Texas prosecutors announced this week that they plan to seek the death penalty against a contract FedEx driver accused of murdering 7-year-old Paradise girl, Athena Strand.
According to Wise County Sheriff Lane Akin, prosecutors are seeking the death penalty against accused murderer Tanner Horner, 31, since the crime involved the abduction and murder of a 7-year-old child.
“Because of the age of that child and because it was an abduction, we are going to pursue the death penalty,” Akin told ABC 8.
As CrimeOnline previously reported, the disappearance of Athena prompted an AMBER Alert on December 2 after her stepmother could not find her in their Paradise home, located north of Fort Worth.
Authorities allege that Horner, who delivered a package to Athena’s home, kidnapped and murdered her within about an hour. When questioned by investigators, Horner allegedly admitted to the crime and led authorities to Athena’s body, located around 10 miles from her home.
During a Thursday morning press conference, Strand family lawyer, Benson Varghese, said the package delivered was a Barbie Christmas present that was dropped off on the day Athena vanished.
Horner is currently at the Wise County jail in a single cell alone after his arrest. Wise said Horner is expected to be turned over to the District Attorney next week as investigators continue to piece together information to have an “airtight” case.
Meanwhile, the community continues to mourn the loss of Athena and the loss of innocence in the small Wise County community.
“Paradise is a community seven and a half miles that way,” Akins said. “Paradise, that paradise like this world is fractured. But that marquee says rest in peace, in Paradise. So she’s exchanged a fractured Paradise for perfection.”
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[Featured image: Athena Strand/Facebook]