Athena Strand: Community shaken by 7-year-old's killing

The community of Paradise is still shaken after the kidnapping and killing of 7-year-old Athena Strand in what appears to be a crime of opportunity.

Investigators say Tanner Horner is the only suspect in the case, with no relation or connection to the family.

What we know about Tanner Horner, the delivery driver who confessed to killing the 7-year-old

Pastor Charles Pugh of First Baptist Cottondale was brought to tears early Saturday morning when he showed up to his church.

"It just really touched me, and everyone I tell starts crying. It’s what I think we all are feeling," said Pugh. 

Sitting on the sidewalk was a tiara dropped off by a stranger.

"She wants you to have it, so you can have a tiara to wear to heaven." he said.

Saturday, support continued to pour into the town of Paradise after investigators found 7-year-old Athena Strand dead in Wise County two days after she was reported missing.

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Courtesy: Maitlyn Gandy

Authorities say a contracted FedEx delivery driver, 31-year-old Tanner Lynn Horner, abducted Strand outside her home and killer her while on the job. 

Athena Strand found dead after being kidnapped by delivery driver: Wise County sheriff

He now faces a capital murder charge, along with aggravated kidnapping. Investigators say he confessed to the crime Friday and told authorities where to find the child's body.

"We think Athena died just a very hour or so after her departure from her home," said Wise County Sheriff Lane Akin on Friday night.

The 7-year-old was staying with her father and stepmother temporarily at their Paradise home.

Wednesday evening, Strand's stepmother called 911, unable to find Strand following an argument between the two.

Strand's father was on his way to a hunting trip and immediately turned around.

Strand's biological mother drove down to North Texas from Oklahoma to help search along with hundreds of volunteers and multiple law enforcement agencies.

Friday evening, Wise County Sheriff Lane Akin revealed his office received a tip Horner was dropping off a package in front of Strand's home around the same time she went missing. The FBI also collected digital evidence that lead them to Horner.

Tanner Horner (Source: Lake Worth Jail)

Saturday, a FOX 4 viewer in Paradise sent this screen grab of what appears to be Horner dropping off a package in his FedEx uniform at a different home hours before investigators say he abducted Athena.

The Wise County Sheriff says he's aware of the Ring doorbell screen grab and says it looks like Horner, but they want to look at the video themselves.

The FBI and the Texas Rangers conducted a search warrant at Horner's Fort Worth home off Somerville Place Road, but neither agency released what, if any, evidence was collected.

Pastor Pugh opened his doors to Strand's family during the draining 48 hours.

"We played the Sheriff's press conference on the big screen. The dad was good with that," Pugh said. "There was a lot of sorrow, but he held up as good as you could expect anybody to."

"This is one of the toughest investigations I have been involved in, because it's a child," Sheriff Akin said.

Meanwhile, Saturday evening the Strand family requested to grieve in private.

A teddy bear tied with a pink ribbon was left on the family's street.

Strand's mother posted on social media Saturday pink was Athena's favorite color, and she wants her daughter to be remembered as a "beautiful, kind, intelligent, brightest and happiest soul."

There is a vigil planned for 6 p.m. Tuesday at First Baptist Church Cottondale.

FedEx released a statement Saturday saying words cannot describe the shock and sorrow surrounding the tragic event, and that they are cooperating fully with investigators.