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FedEx Driver Accused Of Strangling Texas 7-Year-Old Now Facing Charges Of Sexual Assault Of A Child

Tanner Horner, 31, is charged with three counts of sexual assault of a child, in addition to aggravated kidnapping and capital murder of a child under the age of 10, according to Wise County jail records.

By Caitlin Schunn
FedEx Driver Arrested In Texas Girl’s Abduction And Murder

The FedEx driver accused of kidnapping and murdering a 7-year-old girl is now charged with three counts of sexual assault of a child, according to Wise County jail records in Texas.

The Wise County Sheriff’s Office alleges Tanner Horner, 31, kidnapped and killed Athena Strand after delivering a package to her home while she was playing in the front yard on Nov. 30, according to previous Oxygen.com reporting. In addition to the three counts of sexual assault, he's been charged with capital murder and kidnapping. 

A lawsuit by Strand’s father, obtained by Oxygen.com, alleges Horner confessed to deputies that he hit Athena by accident with his FedEx van, but that she was not seriously hurt. He allegedly told deputies he was concerned Strand would tell her father she had been hit, so he strangled her and took her body in the truck with the intention of hiding it in a remote area. 

RELATED: 'It Just Hits You In The Heart': FedEx Driver Is Arrested In Abduction And Death Of Missing 7-Year-Old Texas Girl

The grandfather of Strand previously wrote an emotional message on Facebook, saying he’d forgiven her alleged killer, as previously reported by Oxygen.com.

This flesh, this man that I am, is angry and I want 5 minutes alone in a cell with the psycho that took our Athena away from us, but there’s a soft gentle voice in the back of my head telling me I need to forgive him,” Mark Strand wrote.

He went on to say that he believed “hate is a powerful force that will take root in your soul.”

In a Facebook post, Athena’s mother Maitlyn Presley Gandy also described her daughter’s killer as a “sick, cruel monster.” 

“Athena is innocent, beautiful, kind, intelligent, and just the brightest, happiest soul you could ever meet,” she wrote. “I don’t want her to be the girl known as the one murdered and discarded by a monster. I want everyone to know, every single person in this world, that this is my baby and my baby was taken from me. I want everyone to know her face and her voice and just how wonderful of a person she is.”

Gandy additionally revealed that Horner had delivered a Barbie doll that was going to be gifted to Athena as a Christmas present. She said during the press conference, "Athena was robbed of the opportunity to grow up to be anything she wanted. And this present, ordered out of innocence and love, is one she will never receive."

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