Athena's Law establishes new alert for missing Texas children

Gov. Greg Abbott signed "Athena's Law," named for seven-year-old Athena Strand. Investigators say she was kidnapped and murdered in Wise County last year. 

Delivery driver Tanner Horner was charged with her kidnapping and murder.

Athena's mother Maitlyn Gandy testified at a House Homeland Security and Public Safety Committee hearing in April to advocate for the bill. 

"I begged from the moment I got to her father's property for an Amber Alert, and I asked, and I continued to ask, and unfortunately I kept getting met with the same response, that she and her case did not meet the criteria for an Amber Alert to be issued," she said.

She says an Amber Alert wasn't sent out until 24 hours later.

"If an Amber Alert had been issued immediately, or some type of regional alert like the bill proposes, it could have made a difference in my child's life, but unfortunately I didn't get that courtesy," she said.


An Athena Alert is like an Amber Alert, but will let law enforcement issue an alert when a child goes missing before it's confirmed there was an abduction.

The alert goes out to a 100-mile radius from the child's disappearance and the surrounding counties.

"I’m asking you guys to support this bill not for Athena because we can no longer help her, but I’m asking you to support this bill for your own children, your own grandchildren and your nieces and nephews. And all the children that you don’t even know," Gandy said in testimony.

Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas (CLEAT) released the following statement:

"CLEAT was in full support of Athena’s law which allows for expedient activation of an Amber Alert in certain circumstances. While we appreciate the criteria in place for a statewide Amber Alert, this law provides much needed flexibility in alerting nearby residents in a quicker and more efficient manner when a law enforcement department head believes a child is in grave danger."

"I don’t want someone to feel how I feel. I don’t want a mother to have to carry home an urn filled with ashes. I don’t want to watch another grandparent to mourn the way my dad did," Gandy said.