Athena Strand

Athena Strand: Case Now an ‘Investigation’ After Massive Search for Missing 7-year-old Texas Girl

The Wise County Sheriff’s Office in Texas said during a Friday afternoon press conference that the search for 7-year-old Athena Strand, who vanished Wednesday from her father’s Paradise home, will now focus more on the investigation.

According to Wise County Sheriff Lane Akin, the search for Athena will continue, but the case will turn more toward interviewing witnesses, accessing and reviewing digital devices, and other investigative measures.

“The search is continuing. It is more of a spotted search instead of kind of the grand search you saw yesterday,” Akin said, adding that, at this point, there is no evidence of foul play.

Watch the full press conference below.

As CrimeOnline previously reported, Athena was last seen Wednesday evening in the 200 block of County Road 3573. Police told reporters that she might have run away after an argument with her stepmother, who reported Athena missing at around 6:30 p.m. Wednesday.

The stepmother told police that Athena wasn’t in her bedroom and was nowhere in the area. The child’s father wasn’t home when she disappeared.

Police said Tuesday that nothing is being ruled out this time, including a possible abduction situation.

“We’re looking at everything from the criminal standpoint or just a missing child so we’re not going to leave anything unturned,” Akin said.

The sheriff’s office said all sex offenders had been contacted in the area, but at this time, they don’t think it would be a lead in the case.

Neighbor Melina Owens said that Athena never walks anywhere alone unless it’s next door, where her grandmother lives.

“The only time she left was to go to her grandmother’s house next door— and that’s family,” Owens said, according to CBS DFW. “She’s not OK with being in the dark. She doesn’t like the cold.”

Athena’s mother, Maitlyn Gandy, who lives in Oklahoma, told FOX 4 that she has sole custody but allowed Athena to spend the fall semester with her stepmother and father.

Police said the child’s parents are being cooperative.

Athena stands 4 feet tall and weighs about 65 pounds. She has blue eyes and dirty blond hair. She was last seen wearing blue jeans with white flowers on the front pockets, a gray and black long-sleeve shirt, light brown boots, and could possibly have on a flannel overskirt.

The Texas Department of Public Safety and numerous other law enforcement agencies are assisting in the search. No search volunteers are needed at this time.

Anyone with information should call the Wise County Sheriff’s Office at 940-627-5971.

Check back for updates.

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[Featured image: Police Handout]