A little girl from Wise County, Texas, has been found dead after a frantic search.
The body of 7-year-old Athena Strand was discovered Friday afternoon in Boyd, Texas, about six miles from Cottondale Fire Department.
According to Akin, a tip led them to a FedEx driver who admitted to kidnapping Athena from her home Wednesday night. Athena probably died an hour after her disappearance.
According to authorities, the driver, Tanner Lynn Horner, 31, of Lake Worth, was an independent contractor. He is in the Wise County Jail, where he is being held on a $1.5 million bond for capital murder and aggravated kidnapping.
According to acting FBI agent in charge Jim Dwyer, the FedEx driver was found based on digital evidence. However, he would not elaborate.
According to Sheriff Akin, Athena’s case has been one of his most challenging.
He said that this investigation is one of the most difficult ones he has been involved with since it involves a child. “It just hits you right in the heart.”
Earlier Friday night in Lake Worth, Fort Worth police set up roadblocks on Somerville Place Road. Akin says that is where the suspect lives. They would not elaborate on whether or not any evidence was collected there before they located the girl’s body.
Athena got off her school bus on Wednesday at 4:15 p.m.
The sheriff says the stepmother waited an hour to alert authorities because she went looking for Athena before calling 911. She said there was an argument and afterward she wasn’t in her room.
In addition to law enforcement officers and volunteers, dog teams, helicopters, and thermal imaging technology were used to conduct the search.
“Thanks to them, we were able to cover a vast amount of area and talk to thousands of people much faster than we would have without them,” said Wise County Chief Deputy Craig Johnson.
At the time of the girl’s disappearance, her stepmother was the only adult in the house. Her father was heading to South Texas for a deer hunting trip when he heard the news.
Throughout the investigation, both the girl’s parents and the stepmother have cooperated. Sheriff Akin said he was not aware of any previous calls to the home.
Maitlyn Gandy, Athena’s mother, lives in southern Oklahoma. She told FOX 4 she has sole custody of her daughter, but allowed her to spend time with her father and stepmother in Texas this fall.
“We talked to both sides: the mother, father, and stepmother. They have been very cooperative,” Akin said.
She is being taken to the medical examiner’s office for examination. Athena’s cause of death has not been determined.