The company that made custom caskets for the victims of the Robb Elementary School shooting, has once again made a custom casket for another young murder victim.
SoulShine Industries donated a customized resting place for Athena Strand that was used during the 7-year-old’s funeral, WFAA reported.
The casket was pink, Athena’s favorite color, and included — on top — a princess crown made of rhinestones and a copy of a tattoo her father had which the girl liked. On the side of the casket are two Viking symbols — one meaning “father-daughter,” the other meaning “mother-daughter.”
Athena’s name is centered on the bottom of the casket, and her photo is inside on the lid.
WFAA reported that Athena’s favorite Disney songs played during the service.
Police said Athena was abducted and killed by a contracted FedEx driver. Her body was found on Dec. 2, two days after she had disappeared, KXAS reported.
Officials were able to track down the person whom they said was responsible, after finding out that Tanner Horner had delivered a package to the family’s home in Paradise, Texas, around the time that Athena went missing. The van that Horner was driving for the company contracted by FedEx had video capabilities; the FBI revised the clips which showed Horner and a girl who looked like Athena in his van. The clips also showed Horner inside the van talking to her.
Police said Horner admitted to hitting Athena with the truck while he backed up. She was not seriously hurt, but he panicked and put her in the vehicle, KXAS reported.
Horner told police that she was alive at the time and had been talking to him. He then said he tried to break her neck and when he could not, he strangled her because Athena was going to tell her father about being hit by the van.
Horner faces a capital murder charge, along with aggravated kidnapping, according to KDFW.
Maitlyn Gandy said that her daughter was cremated after last week’s funeral service. The casket was given to the family and will stay with Gandy, being used as a memory box to hold Athena’s possessions, WFAA reported.
“It’s not about just painting a casket — it’s about representing that loved one’s life,” SoulShine Industries founder Trey Ganem said. “This one hit me pretty hard because we think we’re safe — especially with someone bringing us packages. I don’t know how to comprehend what the family was going through, and it was really emotional for me.”
In a YouTube video about the project, Ganem said that when he delivered the casket, he sat with Athena’s family for about five hours at the funeral home, just listening to memories of the little girl.
SoulShine is also making a custom urn for Athena’s ashes.
The company made 19 custom caskets for the victims of the Uvalde shooting, as well as for the victims of the Sutherland Springs shooting in 2017, WFAA reported.
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