Texas House passes ‘Athena Alert’ bill in honor of slain 7-year-old

Athena Strand, 7, was allegedly killed by a former delivery driver after he dropped off a...
Athena Strand, 7, was allegedly killed by a former delivery driver after he dropped off a Christmas present at her Texas home.(Source: Wise County Sheriff's Office)
Published: May. 9, 2023 at 3:20 PM CDT
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AUSTIN (CBSNewsTexas) - The Texas House passed an “Athena Alert” bill, or HB3556 on May 9, allowing law enforcement to quickly issue a regional alert when a child goes missing without confirmation of an abduction.

The legislation – named in memory of 7-year-old Athena Strand who was kidnapped and killed by former FedEx driver Tanner Lynn Horner last year – is intended to close the gap between the time a child vanishes and a statewide AMBER Alert may be issued. It would allow law enforcement to activate an alert in a regional area – within a 100-mile radius and to adjacent counties – of where a child is believed to have gone missing or was last seen.

Authored by Rep. Lynn Stucky (R-Sanger), the bill now heads to the Senate. It will be carried by Senators Tan Parker (R-Flower Mound) and Angela Paxton (R-McKinney) in the next chamber. If passed there, it will make its way to Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s desk.

“I would like to thank Rep. Stucky and other lawmakers for their support of an Athena Alert in honor of my daughter,” said Maitlyn Gandy, Athena’s mother. An Athena Alert gives law enforcement the ability to quickly notify the local public about a missing child in their area – even if the case doesn’t meet the strict criteria for a statewide AMBER Alert.

The proposed bill is yet another way Gandy has sought justice since her daughter’s slaying at the hands of Horner on Nov. 30, 2022.

She previously filed an 18-page wrongful death lawsuit in February seeking “fair and reasonable” compensation for “acts and omissions” that led to Strand’s murder. Tanner, and the contracting company that hired him, Big Topspin, were named in the suit. Athena’s father, Jacob Strand filed a lawsuit in Dec. 2022, too.

Horner was charged with capital murder and aggravated kidnapping. If convicted, he faces the death penalty.

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