Athena Strand

Athena Strand

Texas Law Enforcement confirmed a seven-year-old girl with ties to the Comanche area has been found dead after going missing in Paradise, Texas.

During a 10 p.m. press conference Friday, Dec. 2, Lane Akin, Sheriff with Wise County in Texas, confirmed the body of Athena Presley Monroe Strand had been located two to three hours before hand and a suspect is in custody.

According to Akin, Tanner Lynn Horner, 31, from Lakeworth, Texas, currently resides in the Wise County Jail after a confession. He faces charges of capital murder, aggravated kidnapping, and sits on a $1.5 million bond. Horner worked as a contractor driving for FedEx.

Strand was originally reported missing at  5:30 p.m. Nov. 30 at home in Paradise, Texas in Wise County.

On Friday, Wise County Sheriff's office received a tip.

"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, seven-year-old Athena, came up missing," Akin said.

"Continued good work from this investigative team," Akin said, motioning behind him, "they were able to determine that the driver adbucted Athena. From the investigative standpoint, digitally as well as good old interviews, we think Athena died within just a very hour or so, the very hour or so, of the departure from her home."

Jim Dwyer, FBI and Acting Agent in Charge, said they took "a number of investigative steps" along the way, and through working with the digital evidence and partnerships with FedEx, law enforcement located Horner Friday. When asked about the digital evidence, Dwyer said "the investigation is still unfolding at this point and I think we'll leave the specifics of that there."

Akin said Strand's body was discovered about six miles southeast of Boyd, which was the third location Horner had led authorities.

He also confirmed they have a confession from Horner, who didn't know the family.

"Can't get into the content of the confession, but I will say that we have a confession," Akin said. "It was because of the work of the Rangers and our investigators who were doing the interview, they got us to that location based on the information they received from the suspect, now defendant."

Akin said this is "one of the toughest investigations that I've been involved in."

"Because it's a child," he said, "and anytime there's a child that dies, it just hits you in your heart. You compare that child to your own children when they were that age."

While the vast majority of Strand's family resides in Oklahoma, Akin said both families need time and support.

"They're devastated, they're angry because of what happened -- a precious child taken from their lives," Akin said. "We give them our condolences but we also want to make sure that we give them the privacy that they need and I hope that everybody will respect that and give them a little bit of space, not only with the family from Oklahoma, but the family right here. Let's give them a little time. And we would ask, that we spend some time and pray for these folks so they might be relieved of some of the pain. It's going to be a difficult few days, some sleepless nights, and they need our support."

Akin said when a child dies, it rocks the community.

"It hurts our hearts to know that a child died, so much so that she is on her way now to the Medical Examiner's office and there's a Texas Ranger in front of her and a Texas Ranger behind her," he said. "We're just sad that it didn't end the way we hoped that it would end."

Dwyer also extended condolences to the family.

"I'd also like to offer my condolences to the Strand family and to the Wise County community as well," Dwyer said. “The partnership with theTexas Rangers and with the gentlemen behind us, the sheriff from Wise County, were truly remarkable and truly helped to bring some closure to that family today and we know that they’re hurting but we do offer our deepest condolences to them."

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