A FedEx driver accused of kidnapping and killing a young girl in Texas told authorities he strangled her after accidentally hitting her with his van while making a delivery to her home.
Tanner Lynn Horner, 31, told detectives seven-year-old Athena Strand was not seriously injured after he hit her as she backed up last week, but panicked and loaded her onto his van.
Horner said he didn’t want Athena, whose name he told him, to tell his father what happened, so he tried to snap the girl’s neck and when that didn’t work, he strangled her with his hands in the back. of the van, said the warrant.
Athena was found dead on Dec. 2, two days after she was reported missing from her father and stepmother’s home in Paradise, a city about 60 miles (96 km) northwest of Dallas.
Her mother, Maitlyn Gandy, said the package Horner delivered that day was a Christmas present for the “amazing little girl”.
“I was robbed of watching her grow up,” Ms. Gandy said as she stood next to the gift, a box of You Can Be Anything Barbies, at a press conference on Thursday.
Mrs. Gandy said Athena had to come home to her in Oklahoma after the Christmas break.
He described her as “her father’s daughter” and said she loved dancing, singing and all animals.
A vigil was held in Heaven on Tuesday night, as mourners who gathered to remember Athena wore pink.
Wise County Sheriff Lane Akin said he had known from the start that a delivery had been made to the girl’s home around the same time she disappeared and that she was killed about “an hour or so so” after being kidnapped.
The warrant said that Horner had led investigators to where he had left Athena’s body.
He added that the van that delivered the package was equipped with video, and an FBI employee who saw it saw the driver pick up a girl who looked like Athena in the van and talk to her.
Horner was arrested last week on charges of capital murder and aggravated kidnapping and remained incarcerated Thursday with his bail set at $1.5 million.
The warrant said that Horner told authorities Athena was dead and confessed. Jail records did not list a lawyer who could speak for him.