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Body of missing Texas girl found; Fedex driver charged with murder

Dec. 3 (UPI) -- The body of a missing 7-year-old North Texas girl has been found near her home and a delivery driver stands charged with kidnapping and murder in connection with her death, sheriff's officials say.

Athena Strand became the subject of an amber alert on Wednesday after she was reported missing from her home in rural Wise County, Texas, located about 30 miles northwest of Fort Worth.

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Wise County Sheriff Lane Akin told reporters late Friday the child's body been discovered about 10 miles from her home and that Fedex contract delivery Tanner Horner, 31, of Lake Worth, Texas, was charged with aggravated kidnapping and capital murder in the case.

Akin said Horner has confessed to abducting and slaying Athena after delivering a package to her home on Wednesday and led authorities to the girl's body. He is being held in jail on bonds totaling $1.5 million.

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"We're just sad it didn't end the way that we hoped that it would end," Akin said during a press conference in Decatur, Texas. "It's one of the toughest investigations that I've been involved in because it's a child, and anytime there's a child dies, it hits you in your heart."

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The girl's disappearance triggered a massive search involving hundreds of law enforcement officers, including contingents from the Texas Rangers and the Fort Worth Police Department, local fire departments and civilian volunteers.

They spent much of Thursday canvassing homes in and around Paradise, Texas, and searching the surrounding hilly, rugged terrain for any signs of the missing girl.

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