The grandfather of a 7-year-old Texas girl who was allegedly kidnapped and killed by a FedEx driver said that although he wants “five minutes alone in a cell with the psycho,” he forgives the heartless suspect.
Grandfather Mark Strand, whose granddaughter Athena Strand was found dead in Boyd, shared his anguish after her alleged killer, Tanner Lynn Horner, 31, was charged with capital murder and aggravated kidnapping.
“This flesh, this man that I am, is angry and I want 5 minutes alone in a cell with the psycho that took our Athena away from us, but there’s a soft gentle voice in the back of my head telling me I need to forgive him,” the grief-stricken grandfather wrote on Facebook on Friday.
“This flesh man, wants that psycho to burn in hell for all eternity, yet that gentle voice continues to tell me, I need to forgive him,” he continued.
“This flesh man hopes he remains blind and deaf to the message of salvation and never sets foot in the same heaven that I know in my heart my darling Athena resides in now and yet, that gentle voice persists,” he added.
Strand explained that he chose to forgive the monster because “Hate is a powerful force that will take root in your soul,” adding that “God wants to protect us all from that Hate.”
He acknowledged that “if you stood that man before me right now, because of the hate that’s trying to root itself in my mind, I would probably kill him.
“Then that hate would root itself in my heart and I would be destroyed,” Strand wrote, as he described hate as “the gateway for the Evil we see growing in the world today.”
Strand went on to write that “there’s not one ounce of my flesh that wants to do this or say this, but my spirit has heard God’s voice and right now, while tears flood my eyes, I declare publicly that I forgive this man! Hate will not win.”
He said he hoped his family would understand his forgiveness, writing that “I do this to honor our precious Athena who knew no hate.
“This man won’t be allowed any real estate to live in my brain, he belongs to God and God’s justice will done,” Stand added.
The devastated man issued his powerful message after Athena’s mother, Maitlyn Gandy, 26, condmened Horner as an “absolute monster.”
“Athena is innocent, beautiful, kind, intelligent, and just the brightest, happiest soul you could ever meet,” she wrote.
“I don’t want her to be the girl known as the one murdered and discarded by a monster. I want everyone to know, every single person in this world, that this is my baby and my baby was taken from me,” Gandy continued.
“Athena’s case and the trial against the absolute monster that took her from me, May very well get moved to another county or district in Texas due to the large community involvement (which I am so grateful for),” she wrote.
“I do not want the bastard that took my baby from me and brutally murdered her to go to any city, town, county, state, or country without every single person knowing her face,” Gandy added.
Athena was in the care of her stepmother when she was abducted by the FedEx driver, who was delivering a package to her home, authorities have said.
Police found her body Friday night and said they believe she was killed within an hour of being abducted Wednesday.
Wise County Sheriff Lane Akin said Horner has confessed to the shocking crime.
The Post has reached out to FedEx for comment.