Athena Strand's grandfather says he 'forgives' her killer Tanner Horner in heartbreaking post
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WISE COUNTY, TEXAS: The grandfather of little Athena Strand, the 7-year-old girl who was reportedly kidnapped and murdered by a FedEx driver, says he forgives the man responsible for his granddaughter's death. The young girl, who was the subject of an Amber Alert, disappeared from her father’s house in Paradise, Texas, on November 30. Two days later, the child’s body was discovered in Wise County on Friday, December 2. Her grandfather Mark Strand's statement came just one day after her body was found.
Police found Tanner Lynn Horner, 31, a FedEx driver who was delivering a package at the victim’s house, had killed the girl after kidnapping her. Horner is facing capital murder and aggravated kidnapping charges in connection to Athena's murder. Wise County Sheriff Lane Akin said Horner confessed to the crime upon questioning. Meanwhile, Mark Strand penned an emotional tribute on his loss and his journey to forgiving the killer on Saturday, December 3.
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"This man I am, is angry and I want 5 minutes alone in a cell with the psycho that took our Athena away from us, but there's a soft gentle voice in the back of my head telling me I need to forgive him," Strand wrote. He added that he believes that voice is God. "If I allow this hate to consume me, that voice will fade and eventually be silenced. Then that ugly spirit of hate will have succeeded and that’s why this gentle voice persists to tell me I need to forgive this man," according to Fox News.
Leaning on his faith, the heartbroken father shared, "There’s not one ounce of my flesh that wants to do this or say this, but my spirit has heard God’s voice, and right now, while tears flood my eyes, I declare publicly that I forgive this man!" asserted Strand. Meanwhile, residents throughout Texas and school districts are urged to honor Athena by wearing her favorite color pink on Monday. "My heart is so heavy about Athena," Wise County Judge JD Clark said in a statement. "... 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."