The mother of a 7-year-old Texas girl allegedly abducted and killed by a FedEx driver slammed the suspect as an “absolute monster.”
The body of Athena Strand was found in Boyd, Texas, on Friday, after she was apparently taken from her bedroom in Paradise, earlier in the week.
Athena’s mom, Maitlyn Gandy, 26, thanked those who’d helped search for Athena and condemned the man accused of taking her in a series of scathing social media posts.
Tanner Horner, 31, was arrested in Athena’s disappearance and death and charged with capital murder and aggravated kidnapping.
“Athena is innocent, beautiful, kind, intelligent, and just the brightest, happiest soul you could ever meet,” Gandy wrote.
“I don’t want her to be the girl known as the one murdered and discarded by a monster. I want everyone to know, every single person in this world, that this is my baby and my baby was taken from me.
“Athena’s case and the trial against the absolute monster that took her from me, May very well get moved to another county or district in Texas due to the large community involvement (which I am so grateful for),” Gandy wrote, asking others to share her daughter’s story and photo.
“I do not want the bastard that took my baby from me and brutally murdered her to go to any city, town, county, state, or country without every single person knowing her face,” she added.
“Thank you for finding my baby,” Gandy wrote in a separate post voicing gratitude to the law enforcement agencies and volunteers who helped search for her daughter. “I know everyone wishes this would have ended differently.”
Athena was in the care of her stepmother when she went missing, authorities said.
Police said they believe Horner, a FedEx driver, abducted the girl when he delivered a package to her home around the time she disappeared, CBS reported.
“We knew early on in the investigation that there had been a FedEx driver, made a delivery in front of the house, about the same time that little Athena, 7-year-old Athena, came up missing,” Wise County Sheriff Lane Akin said.
Athena likely died “within the very hour or so after her departure from her home,” said Akin, who did not disclose her cause of death.
Horner reportedly confessed to the abduction.
He is being held on $1.5 million bail.