Mark Strand, the grandfather whose granddaughter Athena Strand was found dead in Boyd, shared his anguish after her killer, 31-year-old Tanner Lynn Horner, was charged with capital murder and aggravated robbery.
“This meat, this person that I am, is angry and I want 5 minutes alone in a cell with the psycho who took Athena from us, but there is a small gentle voice in the back of my mind that tells me that I need to forgive her.” wrote a grieving grandfather on Facebook on Friday.
“This beautiful person wants that spiritual person to burn in hell forever, but this still small voice tells me, ‘I have to forgive him,'” he continued.
“This flesh shall hope to be blind and deaf to the tidings of salvation, and shall never set foot in that heaven; in my heart my dear Athena now and still dwells, that soft voice shall remain.” he added.
Strand explained that he chose to forgive the monster because “Hate takes root in your heart” and added, “God wants to protect us all from that hate.”
He admitted, “If you put that man in front of me right now, I could kill him out of hatred.
“Then this hatred would take root in my heart and I would be destroyed,” wrote Strand, who described hatred as “the gateway to the evil that we see growing in the world today.”
Strand wrote: “Not one part of my body wants to do this or say this, but my soul has heard the voice of God and now, with tears in my eyes, I openly say that I forgive this man! Hate doesn’t win.”
He said he hoped his family would understand his apology, writing: “I’m doing this to honor my precious Athena who knows no hate.
“This man is not allowed to have any real estate in my mind, it is God’s and God’s justice will be done,” Stand added.
“Athena is innocent, beautiful, kind, intelligent and the brightest, happiest soul you could ever meet,” he wrote.
“I don’t want her to be the girl who was killed by the monster and known as the abandoned girl. I want everyone to know, I want everyone in the world to know that this is my baby and my child was taken from me,” Gandhi continued.
“Athena’s case and the case against the absolute monster who took her from me, may be moved to another county or district in Texas due to the overwhelming public participation (which I am very grateful for),” he wrote.
“I don’t want anyone who took my baby from my arms and brutally killed her to go to any city, town, district, state or country without knowing her face,” Gandhi added.
According to authorities, Athena was in the care of her stepmother when she was abducted by a FedEx driver while she was taking a package home.
Police found her body on Friday evening and believe she was killed within an hour of her abduction on Wednesday.
Wise County Sheriff Lane Akin said Horner confessed to the horrific crime.