A FedEx driver has been arrested in connection with the abduction and murder of a missing seven-year-old schoolgirl, authorities have confirmed.
Texan police said Tanner Lynn Horner, 31, confessed to kidnapping and killing Athena Stroud and told them where to find her body.
County Sheriff Lane Akin said a tip-off had led them to Horner, who made a delivery to the girl’s home shortly before she disappeared.
She was likely abducted from her driveway, about 200 yards away from the house, at around 6pm on Wednesday.
Horner did not know the girl’s family, according to Mr Akin, who declined to discuss a motive for the crime.
The girl’s stepmother had reported her missing from the family home near Paradise, which is on the northwestern outskirts of Dallas-Fort Worth.
Athena reportedly left home after arguing with her stepmother, who spent ‘about an hour’ searching for her before calling the police.
‘The stepmom went to fix dinner, came back to get Athena, and Athena wasn’t in her room,’ Mr Akin said.
Her body was later found near the town of Boyd, about six miles southeast of Paradise, a small Texan town of about 475 people, Mr Akin said.
Detectives believe Athena died within an hour of her kidnap, and labelled her murder a ‘crime of opportunity’.
‘We really can’t get into the content of the confession, but I will say we have a confession,’ the sheriff added.
FedEx said in a statement it is working with law enforcement agencies investigating the case.
‘Our thoughts are with the family of Athena Strand during this most difficult time,’ according to the statement. ‘Words cannot describe our shock and sorrow surrounding this tragic event.’
The sheriff said Athena’s family are ‘devastated’, adding: ‘They’re angry because of what happened. Precious child taken from their lives.’
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