7-yr-old missing girl in Texas tragically found dead with delivery driver in custody charged with her murder – TheLiberal.ie – Our News, Your Views

7-yr-old missing girl in Texas tragically found dead with delivery driver in custody charged with her murder

Image source: Fox

A 7-year-old girl who was missing for several days in Wise County, Texas, has been found dead, authorities said.

Wise County Sheriff Lane Akin broke the news Friday night that authorities located the body of 7-year-old Athena Strand during an afternoon search in Boyd after following a tip that led them to a courier service.

The sheriff said detectives believe the suspect kidnapped the girl and killed her.

The suspect, a 31-year-old FedEx driver named Tanner Lynn Horner, later confessed to kidnapping the girl, Akin said. Horner was a contract driver.

“It’s one of the toughest investigations I have been involved in because it’s a child,” Akin said at a news conference Friday night alongside Athena’s birth mother and other emergency response officials, reports Fox News.

Akin also said he believed the girl was killed “about an hour” after she was taken from her home. “This community does not like losing its children” Akin said Friday night, reports Fox News.

Athena disappeared Wednesday afternoon after leaving the house following an argument with her stepmother, according to Fox 4. Athena got off the bus around 4:15 p.m. and she left the house before 5:15 p.m, when her stepmother noticed her absence.

The stepmother searched for an hour and then called the police, Fox 4 reported.

Her biological father was out of town on a hunting trip and her biological mother lives in Oklahoma, according to the report.

The discovery of the body ends the agony of a search that lasted more than two days, involving dozens of law enforcement officers, helicopters and dog rescue teams. More than 300 volunteers have also joined in to help, the Wise County Office of Emergency Management said.

Acting FBI Agent Jim Dwyer told Fox 4 that digital evidence helped lead investigators to the FedEx driver, but he did not elaborate.

Authorities did not comment on whether the girl had been sexually assaulted. A cause of death has not been determined.

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