Athena Strand: Mom Says Every Breath Accused Killer ‘Takes Is One My Daughter Doesn’t’

The mother of a 7-year-old girl who was kidnapped and killed by a delivery driver last month says she supports prosecutors’ decision to seek the death penalty for Tanner Horner, who reportedly confessed to strangling Athena Strand after he accidentally hit her with his truck.

“I support the death penalty,” Maitlyn Gandy told WFAA this week in her first formal interview since the death of her daughter. “Every breath he takes is one my daughter doesn’t.”

Athena Strand disappeared from her father’s home in Wise County, Texas, on November 30 — Gandy lives in Oklahoma and shared custody of Athena with her father, Jacob Strand — prompting an Amber Alert and a desperate search for the girl. Investigators narrowed the search to Horner, a contract driver for FedEx, who delivered a package containing Athena’s Christmas present that day, as CrimeOnline previously reported.

When investigators spoke with him, he admitted killing the girl and dumping her body about 10 miles away after he accidentally hit her with the delivery truck. She wasn’t hurt badly, he said, but he panicked when she said she was going to tell her father and killed her.

“Jacob and I are very forgiving people,” Gandy told WFAA. “If Athena was not injured or there were just bumps and scrapes, he could have just driven away. Accidents happen, but he chose to do more — and what he did was unforgivable. I did Athena’s hair and dressed her before the funeral. I have a hard time believing Athena couldn’t have walked away. Athena could have just walked away … and I wish he would have let her.”

Horner faces charges of capital murder and kidnapping. Gandy said she wouldn’t mind a chance to tell him what she thinks.

“If I could sit down in front of him, I would tell him that he is nothing, but Athena is absolutely everything,” she said. “And I will make sure that everybody in this world knows that.”

Gandy said she has hired a legal team to investigate the case for a possible civil lawsuit against FedEx and the company they contracted to hire drivers, Big Topspin. Jacob Strand has already filed a lawsuit against Horner and the two companies. Big Topspin has not responded to requests for comment; FedEx said it was “aware of the complaint”

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[Featured image: Athena Strand/Facebook]