A stunning new detail has emerged in the murder of 7-year-old Texas girl, Athena Strand. It has now been revealed that Tanner Horner, 30, the contracted FedEx driver who struck Strand with his van, strangled the girl, according to Fox 4.
Horner has claimed that he accidentally hit Strand with his van while delivering what wound up being a Christmas present.
Despite being hit by the van, Horner says Strand was okay, even able to talk after the incident and tell him her name.
However, the driver apparently panicked and shoved Strand into his vehicle.
After attempting to break the girl's neck, Horner resorted to strangling Strand because he was concerned she might tell her father about the situation, according to an affidavit obtained by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
The area Horner dumped Strand's body, where it was discovered on Dec. 2 after she was missing for several days, is now decorated in pink balloons.
Pink was Athena's favorite color.
"I just want you all to know that she was amazing, and she would truthfully love every single one of you because she loves every human that she has ever met and every animal that she has ever met," said Maitlyn Gandy, Athena's mother, during a Tuesday evening candlelight vigil.
"I can’t quiet my mind and I have to share this. A friend just asked me the other day if I believe God speaks to people? I happen to know He does, as He is speaking to me now. This flesh, this man that I am, is angry and I want 5 minutes alone in a cell with the psycho that took our Athena away from us, but there’s a soft gentle voice in the back of my head telling me I need to forgive him," Athena's grandfather, Mark Stand, wrote in a tribute post on Saturday.
No official motive for the crime has yet been determined.