Athena Strand's Mother Reveals Fedex Driver Delivered Daughter Barbie Dolls Before Killing 7-year-old

Credit: Len Holsborg / Alamy
The FedEx delivery driver accused of kidnapping and killing Athena Strand had been delivering her Christmas presents at the time of her disappearance, according to reports.

Strand, seven, went missing from her father's home in Paradise, Wise County, on November 30, sparking a community-wide search involving over 200 people from the local area, per NBC News.

Tragically, the little girl was found dead just two days later on December 2, with her body discovered southeast of the city of Boyd - roughly 11 miles away from her father's Texas home.

Police officials said that a FedEx truck driver, Tanner Lynn Horner, 31, abducted Strand and that she likely died within an hour based on digital evidence and a confession.

Strand's mother, Maitlyn Gandy, has now revealed that the parcel being dropped off at the time of the disappearance was in fact the little girl's Christmas present, which she tragically never got to open.

She had been due to receive "You Can Be Anything" Barbie dolls on Christmas Day, which were delivered the day she died.

Gandy called for stricter screening for delivery drivers and said during a press conference on Thursday: "Athena was robbed [of] the opportunity to be anything she wanted to be. I was robbed of watching her grow up, by a man that everyone was supposed to be able to trust to do just one simple task – deliver a Christmas present and leave."

Horner is currently being held in Wise County jail on capital murder and aggravated kidnapping charges, with bond having been set at $1.5 million, according to Wise County Sheriff Lane Akin.

According to reports, Horner told investigators that he had accidentally hit Strand when he was backing up his truck, but claims she was alive and not seriously injured from the accident.
Athena Strand's Christmas presents were in the parcel that had been delivered on the day of her death. Credit: Facebook
 In his affidavit, per Fox4News, Horner claims to have panicked and put her in his truck where he allegedly killed her. He claimed the reason he ended her life was so that she would not be able to tell her parents what had happened.

Horner was tracked down after authorities learned the child went missing around the time a FedEx delivery was made to the home, according to warrants.

After being questioned, Horner led police to where he had left the child's body and confessed to the crime, according to reports. Akin previously said that Horner did not know the family or Strand.

FedEx had expressed its condolences after the news broke, telling CNN: "Words cannot describe our shock and sorrow at the reports surrounding this tragic event.

"First and foremost, our thoughts are with the family during this most difficult time, and we continue to cooperate fully with the investigating authorities."

Gandy has vowed to campaign for a change in hiring policies at delivery companies, "so that monsters wearing delivery uniforms don’t show up on our children’s doorsteps."

Her attorney, Benson Varghese, added: "The ultimate goal here is to ensure that no parent, or grandparent, or family member feels the loss that Maitlyn’s going through right now."

Gandy had also earlier thanked people in Texas who wore pink in honor of her daughter, telling them: "I have felt your prayers, I have read your messages and your letters and I see your pink everywhere."

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