A FedEx driver admitted to strangling 7-year-old Athena Strand after he says he accidentally hit her with his van, according to an arrest warrant.

Tanner Lynn Horner, 31, claims Athena was awake and talking after he accidentally backed into her while delivering Christmas presents to her North Texas home last week, investigators say in the document.

The driver claimed he became worried about how Athena’s father would react, so he put her in his van and attempted to break her neck, the warrant states.

When that didn’t work, Horner said he decided to strangle her instead, according to the warrant. He later brought authorities to her body.

Tanner Horner

Athena disappeared from her driveway on Nov. 30, sparking an intense search effort by volunteers and officials from multiple law-enforcement agencies. Her body was found Dec. 2, two days after she was reported missing.

Horner was arrested in connection with her death and held on capital murder and aggravated kidnapping charges at the Wise County Jail, according to online records. His bond was set at $1.5 million.

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Wise County Sheriff Lane Akin said investigators knew early on that a delivery was made at the girl’s home in Paradise — about 60 miles northwest of Dallas — around the time she disappeared. Officials believe she was killed about an “hour or so” after being kidnapped.

Attendees offer their respect to a makeshift memorial for late Athena Strand after a memorial service at First Baptist Church of Cottondale in Paradise, Texas, on Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2022.

Akin told Fox News they “are pursuing the death penalty” because “of the serious nature of the case… and because the child is 7.”

“There may be some hurdles we may or may not be able to cross – I’ll leave that to the district attorney,” Akin said.

Maitlyn Gandy gives a statement about the death of her daughter, Athena Strand, 7, at the Wise County Courthouse in Decatur, Texas, on Thursday, Dec. 8, 2022. Strand was was kidnapped and killed late last week allegedly by a FedEx Ground driver.

The packages Horner delivered were Barbie dolls Athena’s mother, Maitlyn Gandy, planned to give her as a Christmas gift, she said during a press conference Thursday.

“I was robbed of watching her grow up,” Gandy said.

With News Wire Services

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