The FedEx driver who is accused of killing 7-year-old Athena Strand delivered a package containing the girl’s Christmas presents just moments before abducting her, according to her mother.
During a press conference on Thursday, Strand’s mother revealed the present that was delivered by the delivery driver on the day of her daughter’s death: a box of “You can be anything” Barbie dolls. Maitlyn Gandy used the event to call on companies to reform their hiring policies for delivery drivers to avoid similar incidents in the future.
“Athena was robbed [of] the opportunity to be anything she wanted to be,” Gandy said. “I was robbed of watching her grow up by a man that everyone was supposed to be able to trust to do just one simple task — deliver a Christmas present and leave.”
Strand disappeared from her Texas home last week, prompting a dayslong search that ended when authorities found her body on Dec. 2. FedEx delivery driver Tanner Lynn Horner, 31, confessed to abducting the girl and faces charges of aggravated kidnapping and capital murder, according to police. He is now at the Wise County Jail on a $1.5 million bond.
Horner abducted the girl after accidentally hitting the 7-year-old with his delivery truck, according to investigators. Although she had no serious injuries, Horner was reportedly afraid she would “tell her father about being hit by the Fed Ex truck.” After kidnapping Strand, Horner allegedly strangled the girl to death.
The driver’s employee contacted Horner after learning the kidnapping occurred around the time he made his delivery, according to arrest warrants. After being questioned by police, Horner then led investigators to the location of Strand’s body and surrendered without incident.
Police believe Strand was killed “within an hour or so” after she left her home, although the girl’s official cause of death has not yet been determined.
Gandy has used the tragic incident to call for increased safety measures from delivery companies in their hiring practices to ensure “monsters wearing delivery uniforms don’t show up on our children’s doorsteps,” she said on Thursday.