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Wise County asks volunteers to stay clear amid search for Athena Strand

The 7-year-old was last seen Wednesday evening, officials say.

WISE COUNTY, 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.”

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

Original story follows.

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As crews continue to search for missing 7-year-old Athena Strand, the Wise County Office of Emergency Management is asking people hoping to volunteer in the search to stay clear of the area. 

"At this time, we will not be utilizing volunteers to assist with the search," the department said Friday morning. "Arriving on scene at a large scale incident without being requested to a) offer to help or b) bring unrequested supplies, takes time and resources away from the task at hand."

On Thursday, the department said several first responders from across the state assisted in searching for Strand, who was last seen Wednesday at her home in Paradise, Texas. More than 300 volunteers assisted in the search, it said.

"The outpouring of support from this community has been overwhelming... Food, flashlights and water donations have poured in," Wise County OEM said in a post on Facebook. 

The department advised people that the best way to assist in finding Athena was to share and "respect the information posted by official sources only." Any requests for supplies or volunteers would be announced on Wise County's social media

Strand was last seen Wednesday evening near County Road 3573 in Paradise. The Wise County Sheriff's Office said Strand's stepmother had called authorities after she said she had gone to Strand's room and found she was gone. 

An AMBER Alert was issued Thursday afternoon, describing Strand as "endangered." 

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.

If anyone sees  Strand, they are asked to contact the Wise County Sheriff's Office immediately at (940) 627-5971.

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