(WFLA) — The grandfather of a 7-year-old Texas girl who was murdered after being abducted from her home said he now forgives the man who confessed to the crime.
Last Wednesday, Athena Strand went missing from her home in Wise County, Texas, prompting law enforcement and volunteers to search for the missing girl.
Days later, authorities would find the child’s body after getting a confession from Tanner Horner — the FedEx driver who made a delivery to Athena’s house around the time of her disappearance, according to Sheriff Lane Akin.
Akin said evidence showed that Athena was murdered shortly after she was kidnapped.
“It hurts our hearts to know that that child died, so much so that she is on her way now to the medical examiner’s office and there is a Texas Ranger in front of her and a Texas Ranger behind her,” the sheriff said.
Saturday, Athena’s grandfather, Mark Strand, wrote on Facebook that he was furious at Horner for taking the 7-year-old from her family.
“I want 5 minutes alone in a cell with the psycho that took our Athena away from us,” Strand wrote.
However, he said there was also a “soft gentle voice” in the back of his head that told him to forgive Horner.
“If I allow this hate to consume me, that voice will fade and eventually be silenced,” Strand wrote. “Then that ugly spirit of hate will have succeeded and that’s why this gentle voice persists to tell me I need to forgive this man.”
And so, the grandfather said he would forgive the murder suspect, but not for his sake.
“I do this for the sake of my family and myself and to Honor the voice of God who is giving me the strength to say this,” Strand said. “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. … Today, I choose Love and hate loses.”