The mother of Athena Strand, the little girl who was kidnapped and murdered by a FedEx driver, has shared a heartbreaking tribute to her seven-year-old daughter.

Maitlyn Gandy shared a video showing her youngest daughter, Rye, crying for her ‘Sissy’ who had gone to spend time with her father and stepmother in Texas before returning to her mother and sister in Comanche, Oklahoma, for Christmas.

Dated November 27, the video was taken just three days before Athena was reported missing and five days before she was found dead.

The short clip shows Rye crying and “begging for her sissy” in a car booster seat, with Gandy writing that her young daughter’s feelings of missing her sissy have been extended “indefinitely”.

“That video of Rye begging for her sissy was Sunday 11/27 when we thought sissy would only be gone a few days,” Gandy wrote.

“I kept telling her, ‘It’s okay, we will see sissy soon’, not knowing how twisted our lives would become. I took it because she does this anytime she think sissy is going somewhere without her. She cried for thirty minutes straight in the car until she cried herself to sleep.

“This monster has now extended those feelings for my youngest daughter indefinitely.”

In previous posts, Gandy shared that Athena’s favourite colour was pink, describing her as an “innocent, beautiful kid” and “the brighest happiest soul you could ever meet”.

“She was perfect from her creation. She was born perfect and too beautiful. Daddy and mommy were scared of how beautiful she has always been and we feel like we failed you,” Gandy wrote, along with photos of a smiling Athena.

“No one deserves what happened to you, but especially you. I love you and love doesn’t even cover it. Mommy is broken without you.”

In another post, she said she didn’t want her daughter to be 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,” she wrote.

Athena was snatched from the driveway of her family’s home in Paradise, Texas, by Tanner Lynn Horner on Wednesday afternoon.

According to the Wise County Sheriff’s Office, Athena was dropped off from school at 4.30pm and was outside her home after an argument with her stepmother when Horner delievered a package to the house.

When Athena didn’t come back inside, her stepmother reported her missing to police that evening.

She was found dead 10 miles away on Friday.

The 31-year-old has since been charged with aggravated murder and kidnapping, with Wise County sheriff Lane Akin describing the tragedy as a “crime of opportunity”.

Police said Horner, who is being held on a $1.5 million bond, likely killed Athena within an hour of her kidnapping.

A tip-off and Horner’s FedEx delivery route that day helped police connected the driver to Athena’s murder.

Horner confessed shortly after being apprehended and is the only suspect authorities believe is responsible.

On Monday, residents in Texas and Comanche, Oklahoma, were asked to wear pink to celebrate Athena’s life, with the request in Wise County coming from local judge J.D. Clark.

“My heart is so heavy about Athena. Additionally, I encourage everyone to join me at 6:30pm on Monday on the Courthouse steps to pray for Athena, her family, our first responders and our community,” Clark said.

At the vigil, local resident Kayla McConnell told WFAA that the whole community had been impacted by Athena’s death and would be supporting the family as they grieved.

“In a small town like this, you don’t think of anything like this ever. Nothing compares to the pain that [the family is] going through. But this entire community has felt this,” she said.

“And we’re all there with them. And we will support them and we will remember Athena every time we even see pink.”

In a statement on Friday night, FedEx expressed their condolences for the family “during this most difficult time”,

“Words cannot describe our shock at the reports surrounding this tragic event. First and foremost, our thoughts are with the family during this most difficult time.”

Image: Facebook

This article first appeared on OverSixty.