A 7-year-old girl who went missing earlier this week from her North Texas home – prompting an Amber Alert – has been found dead, authorities announced Friday. A FedEx driver has been arrested on kidnapping and murder charges.
Athena Strand had went missing Wednesday evening from her father’s home in Paradise, Texas, , prompting a massive multiagency search involving hundreds of volunteers.
Her body was located Friday evening — thanks to a tip investigators had received earlier in the day — Wise County Sheriff Lane Akin announced in a news conference late Friday night.
The suspect, identified as 31-year-old Tanner Lynn Horner, was taken into custody Friday on charges of capital murder and aggravated kidnapping, Akin said.
Horner was a FedEx contract driver who had delivered a package to Strand’s home at about the time she disappeared, Akin disclosed.
“We knew early on in the investigation that there had been a FedEx driver, made a delivery in front of the house, about the same time that little Athena, 7-year-old Athena, came up missing,” Akin said.
Investigators believe that Strand died “within the very hour or so after her departure from her home,” Akin added.
He also indicated that Horner had confessed to the crime, and noted that investigators had obtained “digital evidence,” but did not elaborate.
“We do have a confession,” Akin said.
FedEx cooperated with investigators, Akin also confirmed.
The cause of Strand’s death was not released, or the exact location she was found. Her body was located southeast of the Wise County town of Boyd, Akin said.
Horner of Lakeworth, Texas, is being held on $1.5 million bail.
The FBI, Texas Rangers Division, the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services and the U.S. Marshals Service were all involved in the investigation, according to CBS DFW.
On the evening of Strand’s disappearance, the sheriff’s office said, it received a call from Strand’s stepmother reporting her missing after the two had an argument while her father was not home, CBS DFW reported.
Paradise is located in the Dallas-Forth Worth-Arlington metro area, about 40 miles northwest of Fort Worth.