Athena Strand murder: Texas sheriff pursuing death penalty for suspect Tanner Lynn Horner

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Wise County Sheriff Lane Akin told Fox News Digital that his office is seeking the death penalty for Tanner Lynn Horner, the contract driver for FedEx accused of kidnapping and murdering Athena Strand, a 7-year-old Texas girl. 

Akin, speaking by phone Thursday, said, “We are pursuing the death penalty” because “of the serious nature of the case… and because the child is 7.” 

“There may be some hurdles we may or may not be able to cross – I’ll leave that to the district attorney,” Akin added. 

Athena Strand was found dead in Boyd, Texas, on Friday, outside the Dallas-Fort Worth area after being missing for several days. Tanner Lynn Horner, 30, is charged with capital murder and aggravated kidnapping in connection to Strand’s death. 

ALLEGED KILLING OF TEXAS GIRL BY FEDEX DRIVER RAISES SECURITY CONCERNS ABOUT SHIPPING SERVICE 

Athena Strand, 7, was allegedly kidnapped and murdered by 30-year-old FedEx delivery driver Tanner Lynn Horner.

Athena Strand, 7, was allegedly kidnapped and murdered by 30-year-old FedEx delivery driver Tanner Lynn Horner.
(Wise County Sheriff’s Office)

The attorney representing Strand’s mother, Maitlyn Gandy, said during a press conference earlier this afternoon that he is “not at all surprised” Akin is seeking that kind of punishment for Horner. 

TEXAS GIRL ALLEGEDLY KILLED BY FEDEX DRIVER REMEMBERED BY MOTHER IN EMOTIONAL MESSAGE: ‘KEEP HER STORY ALIVE’

“That is what this community demands. When you have the loss of a young child, of innocence, this community is not going to accept anything less than that,” Benson Varghese said. “I wholeheartedly agree with the decision that is being made and I’m sure the district attorney was involved with that. It’s a huge commitment to say that you are seeking the death penalty. 

Authorities say the body of 7-year-old Athena Strand was found on Friday, Dec. 2, 2022.

Authorities say the body of 7-year-old Athena Strand was found on Friday, Dec. 2, 2022.
(Wise County Sheriff’s Office)

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“It’s not a small undertaking,” Varghese added. “So they are doing what this community wants and it is undoubtedly appreciated by everyone in this community and certainly Maitlyn and the family.” 

Maitlyn Gandy, Athena Strand's mother, addresses a crowd Tuesday at a candlelight vigil in Paradise, Texas.

Maitlyn Gandy, Athena Strand’s mother, addresses a crowd Tuesday at a candlelight vigil in Paradise, Texas.
(KDFW)

The motive for the killing remains unknown. 

Fox News’ Danielle Wallace contributed to this report. 

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