Athena Strand’s father sues alleged killer and FedEx over 7-year-old’s murder

Athena Strand’s father has sued the FedEx delivery driver accused of kidnapping and murdering the 7-year-old after he hit her with his van in Texas.

Jacob Strand’s lawsuit also alleges that FedEx and the contracting company who hired suspect Tanner Horner were negligent in employing him and failed to supervise him.

Mr Horner, 31, had just delivered Athena’s Christmas present when he abducted her last month, according to her mother.

He then told officials that he grabbed the child after hitting her with his van outside her father’s home in Texas, according to a warrant.

And he admitted to strangling her with his bare hands in the back of the van so that she would not tell her father what had happened, the warrant states.

“[Horner] stated, when he attempted to break Athena’s neck it did not work so he strangled with his bare hands in the back of the Fed Ex van,” court documents state.

The civil complaint has been filed in the 271st Judicial District in Wise County, Texas, and seeks more than $1m in damages and a jury trial.

Mr Horner was employed by a company called Big Topsin, which had a contract with FedEx to deliver packages.

“FedEx Ground retains significant control over the specific manner in which Big Topspin and its employees and contractors deliver FedEx Ground packages and maintains significant control over Big Topspin and its employees,” the suit states.

The lawsuit claims that both companies “breached the duty of care” to the public in numerous ways. This includes the allegedly “negligent hiring” of Mr Horner and the alleged failure to investigate his “criminal history, mental health history, and prior employment.”

The lawsuit also claims that both companies placed “dangerous persons in a position of trust” and failed to supervise the suspect properly.

“Our thoughts remain with the family of Athena Strand in the wake of this tragedy. We are aware of the complaint filed against FedEx Ground,” FedEx said in a statement.