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Athena Strand's father sues FedEx, Dallas contractor who hired man charged in her death

athena_strand.jpg
Courtesy
/
Presley Strand family
Athena Strand's body was found after a two-day search in Wise county, northwest of Fort Worth.

Jacob Strand is suing FedEx and Big Topspin for negligence in hiring Tanner Horner, the man arrested and charged with killing Athena Strand.

The father of Athena Strand — the 7-year-old girl found dead in Wise County earlier this month — has sued his daughter's alleged killer and his employers.

The suspect, 31-year-old Tanner Horner, was a contract delivery driver for FedEx. Police said Horner admitted to hitting Athena with his van while delivering what was later revealed by family to be her Christmas gift.

Police say Athena wasn’t seriously hurt, but, afraid she would tell her father, Horner said he put Athena in his van and tried to break her neck. When that didn’t work, police say he strangled her and left her body miles away from her home.

She was found dead two days after her disappearance.

Horner now faces capital murder and aggravated kidnapping charges. The lawsuit says Dallas contractor Big Topspin and FedEx showed negligence in not properly assessing Horner’s criminal history.

FedEx spokesperson Heather Wilson confirmed to KERA News on Friday that the company was aware of the suit, but declined to comment further.

In a statement shortly following Athena's death, the company said it was cooperating with investigators.

"We share in the collective grief surrounding this heartbreaking tragedy and our thoughts remain with the family of Athena Strand," the statement read.

The Wise County District Clerk's Office said Horner had not yet been indicted, and could not provide attorney information. The Wise County District Attorney's Office did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Contact information for Big Topspin was not immediately available.

Bowles Law Firm, which represents Jacob Strand in the suit, released a statement on Thursday saying her family wants accountability for Athena's death.

"They want responsibility, and real efforts going forward, on the part of FedEx to keep all children protected," the statement read. "No parent should ever have to go through this terrible tragedy involving the preventable and senseless death of their child.”

Strand is seeking more than $1 million in the suit.

Benson Varghese, the attorney representing Athena's mother, previously said his firm had sent three legal notices to those they believed were responsible in the events leading up to the girl's death.

Athena was cremated in a funeral service Dec. 9.

Got a tip? Email Toluwani Osibamowo at tosibamowo@kera.org

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Toluwani Osibamowo is a general assignments reporter for KERA. She previously worked as a news intern for Texas Tech Public Media and copy editor for Texas Tech University’s student newspaper, The Daily Toreador, before graduating with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. She is originally from Plano.