Alleged killing of Texas girl by FedEx driver raises security concerns about shipping service

FedEx says it is continuing to 'cooperate fully' with authorities following killing of Athena Strand

A Texas community is grieving after a 7-year-old girl was abducted from her home and killed, allegedly by a contract FedEx driver who confessed to the crimes. Fox News Digital examined other cases where Americans faced crimes right on their doorsteps, reportedly at the hands of delivery drivers, and what precautions are taken when drivers are hired.

"Her name is Athena Presley Monroe Strand. She was perfect from her creation. She was born perfect and too beautiful," the mother of Athena Strand, Maitlyn Gandy, posted to Facebook this week.

"No one deserves what happened to you, but especially you. I love you and love doesn’t even cover it. Mommy is broken without you," the mom continued.

Strand vanished from her home on Nov. 30. Her stepmother reported her missing that same day, and two days later, her body was found about seven miles away from the home along the Trinity River in the town of Paradise.

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Authorities say the body of 7-year-old Athena Strand was found on Friday, Dec. 2, 2022.

Authorities say the body of 7-year-old Athena Strand was found on Friday, Dec. 2, 2022. (Wise County Sheriff's Office)

Authorities arrested 31-year-old Tanner Lynn Horner, a contract worker for FedEx, in connection to the murder. He had made a delivery to the home at about the same time Strand went missing, and police say he abducted the girl from the family’s driveway.

Athena Strand, 7, was allegedly kidnapped and murdered by 30-year-old FedEx delivery driver Tanner Lynn Horner.

Athena Strand, 7, was allegedly kidnapped and murdered by 30-year-old FedEx delivery driver Tanner Lynn Horner. (Wise County Sheriff's Office)

Horner ultimately confessed to abducting and killing the girl, according to authorities. He is facing capital murder and aggravated kidnapping charges and is being held without bail.

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The tragic killing sent shock waves across the community, which has held a handful of memorial services for the girl. FedEx also issued a statement that they were at a loss for words to describe the shock over her death.

"Our thoughts remain with the family of Athena Strand during this most difficult time. Words cannot express our shock and sorrow surrounding this tragic event and we continue to cooperate fully with the investigating authorities," FedEx said in a statement provided to Fox News Digital.

FedEx has faced scrutiny over other delivery drivers allegedly carrying out crimes in recent days.

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Last December, a North Carolina sheriff’s office arrested Gregory Thomas Bufkin, a FedEx driver accused of burglarizing at least 12 homes. He was found guilty this year, according to local media reports.

In another case last year, a Connecticut FedEx driver named Tyrek Herbert was arrested after he allegedly forced his way into a woman’s home and held her and her children at gunpoint before fleeing. The day before the incident, Herbert introduced himself to the victim as a FedEx driver, according to the arrest warrant reported by CT Post.

Herbert was also accused of raping a student at Sacred Heart University just weeks after he allegedly held the mom and kids at gunpoint.

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In another case last year, a FedEx driver from ​​Poughkeepsie, New York, was accused of raping several teenagers in the back of the company’s truck. He was arrested and charged last August with two counts each of rape, criminal sexual act and disseminating indecent material to a minor.

A FedEx delivery truck with packages getting unloaded in New York City.

A FedEx delivery truck with packages getting unloaded in New York City. (Fox News Digital)

This year, a central New York FedEx driver was arrested and charged with murder after a 74-year-old woman was discovered dead in her burned-down home in Ephratah. Suspect Anthony L. Dotson Jr., 24, had a FedEx delivery route in the area and was arrested in August, about three months after the woman’s death. A grand jury indicted him of second-degree murder, first-degree assault, first-degree arson, second-degree strangulation and criminal possession of a weapon charges in November.

Following the death of Strand this year, FedEx has come under renewed scrutiny. Fox News Digital reached out to the company inquiring about hiring practices of drivers.

"FedEx Ground contracts for transportation, pickup and delivery services with more than 6,000 independent businesses that are committed to providing outstanding package pickup and delivery services using their own employees," a FedEx spokesperson told Fox News Digital.

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The contracted workers are subject to criminal background checks, the spokesperson said.

"As is common across the industry and considered standard practice, employees of service provider businesses are subject to a criminal history background check as part of the eligibility process. Should we become aware of any criminal activity within our network, we work swiftly to investigate and address those incidents, including cooperating with law enforcement."

Fox News Digital inquired if the same network of service providers also hire seasonal workers during the busy holiday season. FedEx said that the providers "employ drivers, helpers, managers and other staff and retain sole discretion over all hiring decisions," including seasonal staff.

FedEx delivery van

FedEx delivery van (Pietro Recchia/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

It is unclear how many people were employed as FedEx contract drivers for the 2022 holiday season, with the spokesperson saying the company does not provide such information. FedEx Corp. said last September it was looking to hire an additional 90,000 workers "ahead of busy peak season." However, not all the positions were for delivery jobs.

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The spokesperson confirmed to Fox News Digital that seasonal "resources are also subject to a criminal history background check as part of the driver eligibility process."

FedEx hub staff sort parcels.

FedEx hub staff sort parcels. (Charly Triballeau/AFP via Getty Images)

The various tragedies allegedly carried out by FedEx drivers are also very rare when examining how many deliveries the company makes each day. A recent study published on Statista determined that FedEx Ground delivered an estimated 9.9 million packages per day during the 2022 fiscal year.

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Other FedEx drivers have been victims of crimes themselves while on the job, including a driver in Philadelphia earlier this year who was allegedly held at gunpoint, tied up and robbed of packages on the truck.