‘FedEx became the deliverer of death’: Athena Strand’s mom enters lawsuit against driver, company at center of ‘nightmare’ child murder case


Athena Strand

Athena Strand appears in a photo (via exhibit in parents’ civil lawsuit)

Months after a 7-year-old girl was allegedly kidnapped and murdered by a then-contract driver for FedEx, the girl’s mother is joining a Texas civil lawsuit against the package delivery company.

Maitlyn Gandy, of Oklahoma, filed court papers on Feb. 17 to intervene in the already existing lawsuit against Tanner Horner that was filed by Athena Strand’s father Jacob Strand in December.

The court filing obtained by Law&Crime shows that Gandy moved to intervene in the wrongful death and negligence lawsuit under Texas Rule of Civil Procedure 60, which allows “any party” to intervene by “filing a pleading, subject to being stricken out by the court for sufficient cause on the motion of any party.”

“MAITLYN, Plaintiff, as the mother of 7-year-old Athena and a personal representative of Athena’s estate along with Plaintiff JACOB STRAND, has a justiciable interest in the Pending Lawsuit and, thus, a right to intervene,” the filing said.

The plaintiff’s plea in intervention recounted the allegations made against Tanner Horner, a 31-year-old man previously employed as a contract driver for FedEx through Big Topspin.

FedEx truck in Athena Strand case

Pictured the FedEx truck allegedly driven by Tanner Horner (via exhibit in parents’ civil lawsuit)

“On Wednesday, November 30, 2022, parents across the world hugged their kids a little tighter as news spread that a 7-year-old little girl was missing in Wise County, Texas. In the following days, many joined the search – civilians and law enforcement – hoping that the young girl would be found alive. That hope was extinguished on Friday, December 2, 2022, when Athena Presley Monroe Strand’s body was found. Athena’s life had been taken, her very breath extinguished, at the hands of Tanner Lynn Horner, a FedEx delivery driver,” the filing said. “Shock and sorrow reverberated at the news. Tears were shed, hearts were broken, trust was lost. In the days after November 30, 2022, the world started to learn who Athena was – a child, a daughter, a free spirit, someone who brought joy to those around her, a lover of animals, a friend to her classmates, someone who could disarm you with her smile, and a big fan of Disney musicals. America wept because, in Athena, they saw the best of themselves, their children, and their families.”

The filing said that parents across the U.S. read and heard about Athena Strand case and they “wondered how FedEx became the deliverer of death.”

The plaintiffs in the case allege that defendants should be held liable for negligent hiring practices and shoddy background checks that allowed Horner to strangle Athena Strand to death after delivering a package containing Barbie dolls the victim was supposed to receive as a Christmas present.

Athena Strand's Barbie dolls

Pictured: The Barbie dolls Athena Strand never got to play with (via exhibit in parents’ civil lawsuit)

As recently as last week, Horner was indicted on capital murder and kidnapping charges. Prosecutors reportedly plan to seek the death penalty.

In a matter unrelated to the Athena Strand case, Horner is separately accused of three counts of child sexual abuse stemming from alleged 2013 incidents.

The suspect previously claimed that he “panicked” after accidentally reversing his FedEx delivery truck into Athena, who was playing in the front yard outside the Paradise, Texas home, authorities have said.

“[Horner] stated, when he attempted to break Athena’s neck it did not work so he strangled with his bare hands in the back of the Fed Ex van,” court documents said.

The civil case called the slaying “every parent’s worst nightmare.”

Tanner Lynn Horner (Wise County Sheriff's Office)

Tanner Lynn Horner (Wise County Sheriff’s Office)

“HORNER brutally murdered Athena by strangling, smothering, or asphyxiating Athena. HORNER then continued his trail of terror in the FEDEX vehicle by attempting to “dispose” of Athena’s body by placing her in a body of water on the side of the road,” the court filing said.

Plaintiffs seek more than $1,000,000 in damages.

“Our thoughts remain with the family of Athena Strand in the wake of this tragedy,” said a FedEx spokesperson in a statement to Law&Crime. “We are aware of the complaint filed against FedEx Ground.”

The post ‘FedEx became the deliverer of death’: Athena Strand’s mom enters lawsuit against driver, company at center of ‘nightmare’ child murder case first appeared on Law & Crime.

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