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Athena Strand’s grandfather forgives FedEx driver who allegedly killed her

The grandfather of a 7-year-old Texas girl allegedly abducted and killed by a FedEx driver said that while he wants “five minutes alone in a cell with the psychopath,” 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 psychopath who took our Athena from us, but there’s a soft, kind voice in the back of my mind telling me to forgive him,” the sad grandfather wrote on Facebook on Friday.

“This man of flesh wants that psychopath to burn in hell for eternity, but that soft voice keeps telling me to forgive him,” he continued.

“This carnal man hopes he remains blind and deaf to the message of redemption and never sets foot in the same heaven that I know in my heart my dear Athena now resides and yet that small voice remains,” 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 put that man in front of me right now, because of the hatred trying to take root in my head, I would probably kill him.

“Then that hatred would take root in my heart and I would be destroyed,” Strand wrote, describing hate as “the gateway to the evil we see growing in the world today.”

Strand went on to write that “there is not an ounce of my flesh that wants to do or say this, but my spirit has heard God’s voice and in this moment, with tears streaming from my eyes, I publicly declare that I forgive this man! Hate will not win.”

He said he hoped his family would understand his forgiveness, writing: “I do this to honor our precious Athena who knew no hate.

“This man should not have any real estate in my mind, he belongs to God and God’s justice will be done,” Stand added.

The devastated man issued his powerful message after Athena’s mother, Maitlyn Gandy, 26, denounced Horner as an “absolute monster.”

“Athena is innocent, beautiful, kind, intelligent and just the smartest, happiest soul you could ever meet,” she wrote.

“I don’t want her to be the girl known as the one who was killed by a monster and thrown away. I want everyone to know, every person in this world, that this is my baby and my baby was taken from me,” Gandy continued.

“Athena’s case and the trial of the absolute monster that took her from me may very well be moved to another Texas county or district due to the great community involvement (which I am so thankful for),” she wrote.

“I don’t want the bastard who took my baby from me and brutally murdered her to go to any city, town, county, state or country without everyone knowing her face,” Gandy added.

Athena was in the care of her stepmother when she was kidnapped by the FedEx driver, who was delivering a package to her home, authorities said.

Police found her body Friday night and said they believe she was killed within an hour of her abduction on Wednesday.

Wise County Sheriff Lane Akin said Horner confessed to the shocking crime.

The Post has contacted FedEx for comment.

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