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A FedEx contract driver allegedly kidnapped and killed a 7-year-old girl on a delivery route in Texas on Wednesday, Nov. 30.

The victim, identified as 7-year-old Athena Strand, had stepped off her school bus and arrived home in Paradise, Texas on Wednesday, Nov. 30 at around 4:15 p.m. However, two hours later, at around 6:40 p.m., Athena’s stepmother called 911 to report the girl missing. Preliminary investigation revealed that a FedEx driver, identified as Tanner Lynn Horner, 31, made a delivery in front of the house about the same time Athena went missing, the New York Times reported.

“We knew early on in the investigation that 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,” Sheriff Akin said. “And continued good work by this investigative team, they were able to determine that the driver abducted Athena.”

Following this, Horner was charged with aggravated kidnapping and capital murder of a person under 10 years old.

The search for the girl began on Wednesday in Paradise, Texas, about 40 miles northwest of Fort Worth. Nearly 200 volunteers and numerous law enforcement agencies participated in the search using dogs and a helicopter with thermal imaging. After days of search, her body was found on Friday, Dec. 2 less than 10 miles from her home, WFAA reported.

After being taken into custody, Horner confessed to killing the girl. The authorities said that they believe she had been killed within an hour of being abducted.

“It’s been a really, really tough few days and I’m really proud of the people here who helped us get some resolution, to get some understanding to provide answers for the families,” Sheriff Akin said.

Horner is being held at the Wise County Jail on a US$1.5 million bond. Horner is from Fort Worth, which is about 30 miles south of where Strand's body was found.

Horner was also, at times, an Uber driver. However, he had not driven using the Uber app in months.

Meanwhile, Athena's grandfather Mark Strand shared his anguish and stated that even though he wants “five minutes alone in a cell with the psycho,” he forgives the heartless suspect.

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