DECATUR, Texas — The father of the 7-year-old Texas girl who was killed earlier this month filed a lawsuit Tuesday against the suspect in her death, FedEx and the Dallas-based contractor that hired the suspect.
According to court documents, Jacob Strand, the father of Athena Strand, filed the lawsuit Tuesday in Wise County District Court in Decatur and lists Tanner Lynn Horner, FedEx and Big Topspin as the defendants, KTVT reported.
Jacob Strand is seeking more than $1,000,000 in damages and a trial by jury, according to WFAA-TV.
BREAKING: #AthenaStrand’s father has filed a lawsuit against @FedEx and the Dallas contractor who hired Tanner Horner to deliver packages for the company.— Matt Howerton (@HowertonNews) December 14, 2022
Horner confessed to investigators that he killed the 7-year-old after delivering a package to her home. (@wfaa) pic.twitter.com/ETFiXF94vL
Horner is accused of kidnapping and then killing Athena Strand on Nov. 30. According to an arrest warrant, Horner told authorities that he strangled the child after accidentally hitting her with his van while making a delivery at her home.
“(Horner) stated he attempted to break Athena’s neck to kill her,” the Wise County Messenger reported, citing the warrant. “(Horner) stated, when he attempted to break Athena’s neck it did not work, so he strangled (her) with his bare hands in the back of the FedEx van.”
Horner then allegedly dumped the child into a body of water, KTVT reported. He eventually led investigators to the location, according to the television station.
The package Horner was delivering was a Christmas gift to the child’s home, according to KTVT.
Athena Strand was reported missing by her stepmother about two hours after she returned home from school, Wise County Sheriff Lane Akin said during a news conference earlier this month. Authorities and hundreds of volunteers spent hours combing the area around her home in hopes of finding signs of her.
The lawsuit alleges that FedEx and Big Topspin, the contractor who hired Horner, were negligent and failed to properly supervise and investigate Horner’s past, KXAS-TV reported.
“FedEx has continued their normal business operations although it is clear that their current efforts, if any, to ensure, that they are not putting dangerous persons in a position of trust wearing FedEx uniforms, driving FedEx branded vehicles and sending them to the doorsteps of the homes of nearly every person in America is woefully inadequate to avoid endangering the public,” the lawsuit states.
WFAA located officials with Big Topspin on Saturday, but the Dallas-based company declined to comment about Horner’s hiring.
A FedEx spokesperson told the television station that, “The employees of these service provider companies are subject to criminal history background checks as part of the driver eligibility process. As is common across the industry and considered standard employment practice, the background check process is administered by a third party.”
Horner had no known criminal history, according to WFAA.
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