(NEXSTAR) – The FedEx driver accused of abducting and killing a 7-year-old girl in Texas now faces multiple counts of sexual assault against a child, court records show.
Tanner Lynn Horner, 31, is currently being held at the Wise County Jail after authorities arrested him on charges of capital murder and kidnapping in the death of Athena Strand. His bond is set at $1 million for the murder charge and $500,000 for the kidnapping charge.
Horner, who had been working as a contract driver with FedEx, told authorities that he strangled her after accidentally hitting her with his van while making a delivery at her home, according to an arrest warrant.
Wise County Sheriff Lane Akin told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that the three new charges are not related to the Athena Strand case and stem from a separate investigation by Fort Worth police.
Court documents obtained by Star-Telegram show that the alleged sexual assault crimes happened in 2013, but it’s not known if they involve one or multiple victims.
Horner taken into custody
Horner told investigators that Strand wasn’t seriously hurt after he hit her while backing up on Nov. 30, but he panicked and put her in his van. He said she was talking to him and told him her name, according to the warrant.
But Horner said he didn’t want her to tell her father what happened, so he first tried to break the girl’s neck, and when that didn’t work, he strangled her with his hands in the back of the van, the warrant said. The warrant said Horner took investigators to where he’d left Athena’s body.
Athena was found dead on Dec. 2, two days after she was reported missing from the home of her father and stepmother in Paradise, a town of fewer than 500 people about 60 miles (100 kilometers) northwest of Dallas.
Earlier this month, Athena’s mother, Maitlyn Gandy, spoke at a news conference outside Wise County courthouse in Decatur, about 10 miles (16 kilometers) northeast of Paradise. She said that the package that Horner dropped off that day was a Christmas present for the “amazing little girl” she wanted everyone to know about.
“I was robbed of watching her grow up,” Gandy said as she stood beside the present, a box of “You Can Be Anything” Barbies.
Wise County Sheriff Lane Akin has said that they knew early on that a delivery had been made at the girl’s home at about the same time that she disappeared. Akin has said she was killed about an “hour or so” after being kidnapped.
Working with employees from the contracting company that was delivering packages for FedEx, investigators determined which van and driver made the delivery, the warrant said. Investigators also learned that the van that delivered the package was equipped with video, the warrant said.
An FBI employee who then watched a video from the van could see that the driver had taken a young girl who looked like Athena in the van and had talked to her. The warrant said that when investigators located Horner, he told them Athena was dead and confessed.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.