The mother of a 7-year-old kidnapped and killed in Texas in December thanked a grand jury for its role in the indictment of the man accused of her daughter’s murder.
Tanner Horner was arrested in December after allegedly telling authorities he strangled 7-year-old Athena Strand after accidentally hitting her with his vehicle while making a FedEx delivery to her home on November 30.
Horner was indicted on charges of capital murder charge and aggravated kidnapping Thursday, according to Wise County court records.
“I would like to thank the Wise County grand jury for their role in this process. Hearing the facts and circumstances of my 7-year-old daughter’s kidnapping and murder was undoubtedly very difficult for them. I want them to know that their work is deeply appreciated,” Athena’s mother, Maitlyn Gandy, said in a statement provided to CNN affiliate WFAA.
“Tanner Horner’s indictment is the beginning of a long road through the justice system. I appreciate everyone’s continued support and for keeping Athena’s name and memory alive. Please take a moment to hug your children and loved ones. No one is promised another day,” Gandy said.
CNN has reached out to Horner’s court-appointed attorney for comment.
According to two arrest warrants obtained last year by CNN affiliate KTVT, Horner allegedly told investigators he put Athena in his van and strangled her because he was scared she would tell someone she was hit by a FedEx truck.
Strand’s family filed a lawsuit against FedEx and one of its subcontractors in December, accusing them of gross negligence and accusing Horner of assault. The family is seeking more than $1 million in damages from the companies and Horner, according to the suit.
Horner delivered packages for FedEx Ground but was employed through a subcontractor, Big Topspin, Inc., according to the lawsuit.
In response to the lawsuit, FedEx said in a statement, “Our thoughts remain with the family of Athena Strand in the wake of this tragedy. We are aware of the complaint filed against FedEx Ground.”
CNN has previously attempted to reach Big Topspin, Inc. for comment.
Separate alleged assaults
In December, Horner was also charged with the sexual assault of children under the age of 17 in three separate incidents in 2013.
Wise County Sheriff Lane Akin told CNN the 2013 charges “happened back some time ago” and were separate from the Strand case. Other people have come forward in relation to the 2013 charges following Horner’s arrest, Akin said.
An investigation by the Fort Worth Police Department determined Horner allegedly sexually assaulted children in June, August, and December 2013, according to charging documents.
The minor victims were not identified. The charges came out of Tarrant County, records show.