Athena Strand: Mom of Murdered Texas Girl Speaks Out for First Time Since Daughter’s Death

The mother of slain Texas girl, Athena Strand, spoke out Tuesday night for the first time publicly since the child’s death.

As CrimeOnline previously reported, the disappearance of 7-year-old Athena prompted an Amber Alert last week after her stepmother could not find her in their Wise County home, north of Fort Worth.

Authorities allege a contract FedEx driver delivering a package to Strand’s home kidnapped the girl and murdered her within about an hour. The suspect, 31-year-old Tanner Horner, has been arrested and charged with aggravated kidnapping and capital murder.

Athena’s mother, Maitlyn Gandy, spoke publicly at a memorial service event held outside the Cottondale Baptist Church in Wise County. Over 1,000 supporters showed up to the event and offered encouragement and love to the family.

Watch the coverage below, provided by Fox 4 News.

According to investigators, Athena got off a school bus at around 4:15 p.m. and was missing from the residence at some point before 5:15 p.m., which is when the stepmother noticed the child was gone.

Strand and the stepmother had reportedly argued at some point before the girl went missing. The stepmother looked for Strand for about an hour and then called police.

Officials searched for the girl for two days, with dozens of law enforcement and hundreds of volunteers joining the effort.

Police said they received information and tips about Turner, who had been at the girl’s home when she vanished. Investigators worked with FedEx to identify and locate the suspect.

READ MORE: What We Know about FedEx Driver Accused of Abducting, Killing 7-year-old Texas Girl

In a statement, FedEx said it was cooperating with authorities.

“Words cannot describe our shock and sorrow at the reports surrounding this tragic event,” a spokesperson for FedEx told Fox News. “First and foremost, our thoughts are with the family during this most difficult time, and we continue to cooperate fully with the investigating authorities. At this time, any further questions should be directed to law enforcement.”

Horner is in the Wise County Jail on a $1.5 million bond. He doesn’t appear to have a previous criminal history.

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[Featured image: Tanner Horner; Athena Strand/Facebook]