Athena Strand was “innocent, beautiful, kind, intelligent, and just the brightest, happiest soul you could ever meet,” her mother, Maitlyn Presley Gandy, wrote in a social media tribute.
After authorities announced that her 7-year-old daughter was found dead at the hands of a FedEx driver who kidnapped her from outside her father’s North Texas home, Gandy wrote in a public Facebook post, “I want the world to know my baby, my first baby, my first true love, the reason I breathe. ... I love my daughter beyond words and I will always love her.”
Athena had been staying with her father and stepmother in Wise County this fall. Her stepmother reported her missing Wednesday, prompting a two-day search and investigation that led to FexEd driver Tanner Horner. Authorities say Horner abducted Athena while delivering a package to her father’s home and later confessed to killing her and to where he hid her body.
“I cannot describe the pain and absolute anger I feel,” wrote Gandy, who lives in Oklahoma. “Missing her doesn’t cover how I feel. My daughters name is Athena Presley Monroe Strand, which she would happily announce to anyone listening, and anyone not listening she would make listen. My princess was taken from me from a sick, cruel monster for absolutely no reason.”
In another post, her mother wrote that Athena’s favorite color was pink and “she loves to dress up as the princess we all know she is. When she grows up, she wants to be a Viking princess just like her Viking daddy with lots of tattoos everywhere and hair as long as Rapunzel’s.”
Athena loved “all animals and all people,” jewelry, McDonald’s, makeup, candy, swimming and being outdoors, she wrote.
“Athena loves her two baby sisters with all she has, she is the best big sissy,” Gandy wrote. “Athena loves school, drawing, and laughing. Athena has the best laugh. ... Athena is loved by mommy and daddy, and all of her sisters, many many aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents.”