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AMBER Alert issued for missing North Texas girl in Wise County

Police said the mother of 7-year-old Athena had been looking for her since before 6 p.m. She was last seen around County Road 3573 in Paradise.

PARADISE, Texas — Update at 10:57 p.m. on December 2, 2022: The body of 7-year-old Athena Strand has been found, Wise County Sheriff Lane Akin said at a press conference on Friday night, and a suspect is in custody. 

Tanner Lynn Horner, 31, confessed to police to abducting and killing Athena Wednesday afternoon, Akin said. Horner, who was working as a contract FedEx truck driver, had been delivering a package to Athena's family home when she was allegedly abducted. 

More details here.

Update at 7:27 a.m. on December 3, 2022:

FedEx released the following statement on Saturday: 

“Words cannot describe our shock and sorrow at the reports surrounding this tragic event. First and foremost, our thoughts are with the family during this most difficult time, and we continue to cooperate fully with the investigating authorities. At this time, any further questions should be directed to law enforcement.”

FedEx also released this statement on Twitter on Saturday morning: 

"Our thoughts are with the family of Athena Strand during this most difficult time. Words cannot describe our shock and sorrow surrounding this tragic event. We continue to cooperate fully with the investigating authorities."

Athena Strand's mother, Maitlyn Gandy, shared this GoFundMe fundraiser with WFAA.

Original story follows.

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An AMBER Alert was issued Thursday afternoon for a missing Wise County girl who was last seen Wednesday evening, authorities announced.

Multiple law enforcement agencies had been searching for 7-year-old Athena Strand throughout the day Thursday. The AMBER Alert was issued at 2:10 p.m., describing Strand as "endangered."

Strand's "whereabouts are unknown and law enforcement believes the child's safety and health are in danger."

Anyone with information about Strand is asked to call 911.

The Wise County Sheriff's Office (WCSO) earlier Thursday said they got a call from Strand's stepmother shortly before 7 p.m. Wednesday. She said she had gone to Strand's room, but she was not there. After looking for her for about an hour, she contacted the sheriff's office.

Credit: Maitlyn Gandy

The little girl hasn't been found as of Friday. Authorities told WFAA that the girl possibly left after an argument with her parents.

Strand was last seen around the 200 block of County Road 3573 in Paradise in Wise County.

In an update provided Friday, officials said the search has transitioned into an "investigation with a search," as opposed to an "initial search accompanied with an investigation." 

The AMBER Alert said Strand was last seen wearing a gray/black long-sleeve shirt, blue jeans with flowers on the front pockets and brown boots.

In an update Thursday evening, the Wise County Sheriff's Office said that both the stepmother and father are cooperating with authorities in the case.

According to officials, the AMBER Alert was issued to broadcast that Athena was missing or possibly abducted to as many people as possible. 

The reason why it wasn't done sooner was because the family told the sheriff that Athena had done this before, so the sheriff's office felt that they would have found the child eventually in the night. 

According to the sheriff's office, around 200 citizens have helped in the search and that they have searched an estimated 50 acres, so far.

WCSO, the Texas Department of Public Safety, the local Texas Ranger, the Fort Worth Police Department, the Bridgeport Police Department, several local fire departments, Wise County EMS and Search Rescue One (K-9 assisted) are all contributing to the search.

In an update provided Friday, the Wise County Sheriff's Office asked residents who live in the area to search their outbuildings and property. 

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