WISE COUNTY, Texas – Tanner Horner is the FedEx driver charged with brutally murdering 7-year-old Athena Strand earlier this month. The little girl had been missing for several days when Wise County officials found her dead. Now he’s been slapped with new charges this week involving the sexual assault of a minor.
Prosecutors charged Horner, 31, with three counts of sexual assault on a child in a separate case. The new charges stem from crimes the occurred in 2013, FOX 7 reported. However, no further details have been released about what led to these charges being filed against the accused killer.
After law enforcement authorities received a tip that led to Horner’s arrest earlier this month, he reportedly admitted to investigators that he struck Strand with the delivery truck after he dropped off a Christmas gift that was mailed to her. According to officials, he admitted to kidnapping the girl and told them she was dead, the Daily Wire reported.
“[Horner] stated when he was backing up in his Fed Ex truck he accidentally hit Athena with the truck, but she was not seriously injured, panicked and put her in the van,” court documents said. “[Horner] stated Athena was alive at that time, talking to him, and told him her name was Athena. [Horner] stated he attempted to break Athena’s neck to kill her. [Horner] stated, when he attempted to break Athena’s neck it did not work so he strangled with his bare hands in the back of the Fed Ex van.”
Athena’s mother, Maitlyn Gandy, expressed her grief during a press conference, saying, “Athena was robbed of the opportunity to grow up to be anything she wanted to be.”
“And this present ordered out of innocence and love is one she will never receive,” she said. “Athena’s favorite holiday was Christmas as it is for many children everywhere. The joy Athena gave her family, and the joy she felt on Christmas is something we will never feel with her again.”
Wise County Sheriff Lane Akin said that his office supports the death penalty for Horner because “of the serious nature of the case” and Strand’s age.
“There may be some hurdles we may or may not be able to cross – I’ll leave that to the district attorney,” he said.