[UPDATED] Search for missing 7-year-old shifts to investigation in Wise County

[UPDATES AT THE END]

Wise County Sheriff Lane Akin has provided an update regarding the search and investigation into the disappearance of 7-year-old Athena Strand.

On Wednesday afternoon at approximately 4:15pm, Athena got off her school bus at County Road 3573 just north of Farm to Market Road 2123 in Wise County. At around 6:40pm, her step-mother called 9-1-1 to report Athena was missing.

Wise County Sheriff’s Office deputies, paramedics with Wise County EMS, and volunteer firefighters responded and immediately commenced a search of her family home and areas surrounding the property. They were assisted by DPS Troopers and DPS-101 helicopter. A search continued into the early morning hours of Thursday before it was called off around 4:30am.

The search reconvened on Thursday morning with the help of several agencies and hundreds of citizen volunteers. Infrared drones and thermal-imaging cameras on helicopters were utilized, but she was not located. Two different K-9 teams picked up a scent near her immediate home, but neither team were able to locate anything.

As of Friday afternoon, Sheriff Akin says the situation has shifted from an active search to an investigation. Spot searches continue in the immediate area; however, Wise County Sheriff’s Office and other state and federal law enforcement agencies have started a thorough investigation into her disappearance.

Sheriff Akin is asking all residents in the region of her residence (FM 2123 and CR 3573) to walk their property and check outbuildings for any information related to Athena’s disappearance.

If you know something, call the Wise County Sheriff’s Office immediately.

UPDATE – According to Sheriff Lane Akin, Athena’s body was located approximately 6 miles east of Cottondale.

Earlier today, a tip was received regarding a FedEx truck and her disappearance. Law enforcement believe the driver abducted Athena. He is a 31-year-old man from the Lake Worth area, charged with Capital Murder and Kidnapping. The man is in Wise County jail.

Sheriff Akin says the man has confessed to the incident. He was delivering a package to the home at the time of Athena’s disappearance. Officials say the suspect did not know the family.