How did Athena Strand die? Her sad passing

Athena Strand

Athena Strand was dropped off at her father’s home in Paradise, Wise County, on 30th November 2022 at 4.30 p.m. She quarreled with her stepmother before leaving the house an hour later. After Athena’s stepmom prepared dinner, she searched for Strand in the home to no avail. 

The search for the little girl started after her stepmom called 911. A multi-agency team supported by hundreds of volunteers combed the rural area, hoping to find Strand alive. On 2nd December, the authorities announced that they’d arrested Tanner Horner, a FedEx driver who delivered a package to the residence when Athena vanished. 

Wise County sheriff Lane Akin said Tanner confessed to abducting and killing Athena before directing them to her body’s location. 

Authorities haven’t released details about Athena Strand’s murder

The authorities have released limited information about Athena Strand’s murder. They believe Tanner Horner killed Athena within an hour of her abduction. Sheriff Akin described the murder as ‘a crime of opportunity,’ suggesting Horner committed the crime with little or no premeditation. 

“It’s one of the toughest investigations I have been involved in because it’s a child,” Akin told Fox 4. “Any time there’s a child that dies it just hits you in your heart.”

Athena’s mother, Maitlyn Presley Gandy, took to Facebook to thank the authorities who found Strand’s body, acknowledging that working at a crime scene involving a child wasn’t easy. Maitlyn wrote:

“I have been talking to and continuing to communicate with those that have been working so hard since Athena’s disappearance and the investigators, troopers, WSCD, CSI, and FBI have all cried with me. It takes a special kind of person and whether a child is yours or not, working crime scenes involving children is hard.”

Horner’s motive is unclear: he doesn’t appear to have a connection to the girl’s family. The alleged killer doesn’t have a criminal record, but his social media posts contain racial slurs and disturbing quotes. Horner captioned an Instagram post from December 2014 as follows:

“Sometimes I hear her cries. Silence is the dirtiest trick in life. If im so empty then why do I feel alive. Lets go back for the last time. When you breathe you lie. Pretty thing keep your mouth closed and those legs tangled close.”

“I find it shocking it was him,” one of Tarner’s neighbors told The Fort Worth Star-Telegram. The neighbors revealed that Horner lived with his grandmother and mother and would leave for weeks at a time before returning. “You kind of forget that you never know who your neighbor is,” Crystal Guadian, a neighbor, said.

Tanner was arrested on charges of capital murder of a person under 10 and aggravated kidnapping. He’s held on a $1.5 million bond.