The body of missing seven-year-old Athena Strand was found in Wise County, Texas, Sheriff Lane Akin said at a news conference Friday night.
The Wise County Sheriff also said a FedEx driver was arrested. The driver, identified by police as Tanner Lynn Horner, 31, is being held at the Wise County Jail on capital murder and aggravated kidnapping charges.
“We want to send our condolences to Athena Strand’s family. Her body was recovered about two hours ago, maybe three,” Akin told reporters and urged the public to give them privacy.
The sheriff said Athena’s body was found about six miles from her home. Mr. Horner had left a package at the house at the time the boy was abducted, the sheriff said.
She was likely abducted from her driveway, about 200 yards from her home, around 6pm Wednesday night.
Athena reportedly left the house after an argument with her stepmother.
Police said the woman spent “about an hour” looking for the young man before calling the sheriff’s office. The boy’s father was reportedly on a deer hunting trip in South Texas at the time of his disappearance.
She was last seen at her father’s house at 3573 County Road in Paradise, Texas, dressed in a gray long-sleeved shirt with white flowers, blue jeans with white flowers on the pockets, and brown boots.
Mr Akin said the suspect provided police with two locations, including an area of CR 4599 that was recorded by police on Friday afternoon, before leading police to Athena’s body.
Officials, however, have not described a motive for the suspicion.
Mr. Horner is from Fort Worth and has no criminal record in Tarrant or Wise counties. His social media accounts said he was an Uber driver, is a musician and passed out at Azle High School, the Fort Worth Star Telegram newspaper.
“To be clear, suspect does NOT reside in the city of Lake Worth, but rather near the lake itself, miles away from COLW,” Lake Worth Police Department Chief JT Manousagian tweeted.
“They [the investigative team] we were able to determine that the driver abducted Athena and from an investigative perspective, both digitally and with good ol’ interviews, we think Athena died just an hour after she left her home,” Akin said .
“This driver is a contract driver…he’s from Lake Worth,” the sheriff added. The suspect’s bail has been set at $1.5 million, he said.
“We can’t really get into the content of the confession, but I will say we have a confession. It’s still very, very early, but we wanted to make sure we got the information out there.”
The sheriff also pointed out that the suspect was not related to and did not know Athena’s family.
He added that a search warrant for the defendant’s home was pending by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Texas Rangers, the main criminal investigative branch of the Texas Department of Public Safety and declined to provide further information as part of the ongoing investigations.
When asked what the family wanted to say to the public, the sheriff said the family “appreciated that we care so much.”
They are devastated, they are angry about what happened. Precious child snatched from their lives.