Athena Strand was a 7-year-old girl from Texas who went missing on November 14, 2022, after she left her home to play with her friends. Her body was found two days later in a remote area, about 30 miles away from her home. She had been abducted and strangled to death by a FedEx driver who had no criminal history and confessed to the crime. This is the tragic story of Athena Strand, as told by Reddit users who followed the case closely.
A Mysterious Disappearance
Athena Strand lived with her father, stepmother, and two siblings in Lorena, a small town near Waco. She was a cheerful and friendly child, who loved ballet, animals, and art. She was last seen around 11 a.m. on Sunday, November 14, when she left her home to play with her friends at a nearby park.
When she did not return home by 1 p.m., her family became worried and started looking for her. They contacted her friends, who said they had not seen her at the park. They also checked the security cameras in the neighborhood, but found no trace of her. They then called the police and reported her missing.
The police launched a massive search operation, involving helicopters, drones, dogs, and volunteers. They also issued an Amber Alert, describing Athena as a white female, 4 feet tall, 50 pounds, with brown hair and blue eyes. She was wearing a pink jacket, blue jeans, and black boots.
The case attracted national attention, as well as the interest of online sleuths, who joined the discussion on Reddit. Many users speculated about the possible scenarios, suspects, and motives behind Athena’s disappearance. Some users pointed fingers at the stepmother, who had a history of drug abuse and domestic violence. Others suggested that Athena might have been lured by a stranger, or taken by a sex trafficker.
A Shocking Confession
On Tuesday, November 16, the police announced that they had found Athena’s body in a wooded area near Riesel, about 30 miles east of Lorena. They also said they had arrested a suspect, who had confessed to the crime.
The suspect was identified as Tanner Horner, a 28-year-old FedEx driver, who had delivered a package to Athena’s home on the day she went missing. Horner allegedly told authorities that he strangled her after accidentally hitting her with his van while making a delivery at her home, according to an arrest warrant. Investigators said he told them that Athena wasn’t seriously hurt after he hit her while backing up, but he panicked and put her in his van.
He then drove her to a remote location, where he strangled her with a belt and left her body. He also said he threw away her clothes and belongings in different places along the way. He said he acted alone, and had no prior contact with Athena or her family. He also said he had no motive, and did not sexually assault her.
The police said they were able to track down Horner by using GPS data from his van, cell phone records, and security camera footage. They also said they found physical evidence linking him to the crime, such as blood stains, hair, and fibers. They said Horner had no criminal record, and had been working for FedEx for about a year.
A Devastated Community
Horner was charged with capital murder, and is being held without bond at the McLennan County Jail. He faces the death penalty or life in prison without parole if convicted. His attorney said he plans to plead not guilty, and will seek a mental health evaluation for his client.
Athena’s family and friends expressed their grief and anger over her death, and thanked the police and the public for their support. They also asked for privacy and respect during this difficult time. They held a memorial service for Athena on November 20, where they celebrated her life and shared their memories of her.
The case also sparked outrage and sadness among the Reddit users, who had been following the case closely. Many users expressed their shock and disbelief over Horner’s confession, and wondered how he could commit such a horrific act. They also apologized to the stepmother, who had been wrongly accused by some users. They also offered their condolences and prayers to Athena’s family and friends.