WISE COUNTY, Texas — Residents throughout Texas were asked Monday to help honor a 7-year-old girl who was found dead following an abduction last week.
Athena Strand, who was the subject of an AMBER Alert, went missing last week in rural Wise County, and her body was discovered on Friday night.
The suspect, identified as 31-year-old Tanner Lynn Horner, confessed to abducting and killing her on Wednesday. Authorities said Horner was working as a contract FedEx driver and was delivering a package to Strand's home when the abduction allegedly happened.
As the investigation continues, officials had asked residents in North Texas to wear pink in honor of the 7-year-old victim.
In a statement, Wise County Judge J.D. Clark said pink was Strand's favorite color and that he urged everyone in the county to wear the color on Monday.
"My heart is so heavy about Athena," Clark said. "... Additionally, I encourage everyone to join me at 6:30pm on Monday on the Courthouse steps to pray for Athena, her family, our first responders and our community.
School districts throughout Texas also asked students and staff to wear pink.
The list of districts included:
- Paradise ISD
- Castleberry ISD
- Northwest ISD
- Gunter ISD
- Buena Vista ISD
- Blooming Grove ISD
- Gainesville ISD
- Garner ISD
- Rains Elementary (Rains ISD)
- Bland ISD
- Neches ISD
- Saginaw Elementary (Eagle Mountain-Saginaw ISD)
- Yantis ISD
- Dalhart High School (Dalhart ISD)
- Weatherford ISD
- Krum ISD
- Argyle ISD
- Maypearl ISD
- Lake Worth ISD
Residents Kayla McConnell and Rachalle Taylor brought their children to a memorial at First Baptist Church of Cottondale on Monday to remember the young victim. They also dressed in pink.
"In a small town like this, you don't think of anything like this ever..." McConnell said.
"Nothing compares to the pain that [the family is] going through. But this entire community has felt this. And we're all there with them. And we will support them and we will remember Athena every time we even see pink," McConnell added.
Comanche Elementary School in Oklahoma, where the 7-year-old was a student, also asked students to honor the child by wearing pink.
When announcing that Strand's body had been found on Friday, Wise County Sheriff Lane Akin called the case "one of the toughest investigations I've ever been involved in."
"Any time there's a child that dies, it just hits you in your heart. You compare that child to your own children when they were at that age," Akin said.
The 7-year-old's body was found about six miles southeast of Boyd. Horner is the lone suspect in the case, according to officials.
Akin said Horner is being charged with capital murder and aggravated kidnapping.