"Athena didn’t walk away or disappear on her own. I will not give up or stop until I have Athena back," her mother wrote.
Athena Strand is a 7-year-old who was reported missing by her stepmother from their home on Wednesday and ever since then, multiple law enforcement units are tirelessly searching for her. An amber alert has been issued in Wise County where the little girl hails from. The authorities suspect that Strand’s health and safety might be in danger. According to CBS News, Athena was reported missing around 6:40 p.m. on November 30, 2022. Police revealed that her stepmother, Maitlyn Gandy spent “about an hour” looking for her daughter before contacting the sheriff’s office and seeking their help.
NEW: The biological mother of missing first-grader Athena Strand shared these photos of her. She says Athena was afraid of the dark & wouldn’t run off, what law enforcement says they believe happened.— Meredith Yeomans (@YeomansNBC5) December 2, 2022
An #AmberAlert was issued earlier today. @NBCDFW https://t.co/iTODB0R5LU pic.twitter.com/WfwXi8FdBe
According to WFAA, the amber alert was issued at 2:10 p.m. which is an emergency response system that comes into effect usually during a child’s disappearance as the police believe Strand might be “endangered” at this point. Authorities informed the outlet that Strand could have left her home after having an argument with her parents. However, neighbors say that does not seem right. "The only time she left was to go to her grandmother's house next door—and that's family," neighbor Melina Owens said. "She's not OK with being in the dark. She doesn't like the cold," per CBS News.
The 7-year-old was last spotted around the 200 block of County Road 3573 in Paradise, Wise County of Texas. She was wearing a gray/black long-sleeve shirt, blue jeans with flowers on the front pockets, and brown boots on.
The search for 7-year-old Athena Strand, continues right now. was missing. Her mother said she went to the daughter’s room, but she was not there. After about an hour looking for the child, she contacted the Wise County Sheriff’s Office. @CBSDFW pic.twitter.com/rWkc2jHjMa— Nick Starling (@NickStarlingTV) December 1, 2022
The Wise County Sheriff’s Office updated on Thursday that Strand’s stepmother and father are cooperating with the authorities to help them solve the case and find the girl. The Amber Alert broadcasted to as many people as possible which stated that Athena is missing or probably abducted. The sheriff’s office had an inkling of hope to find the child by that night because her parents had informed them that she had done something like this before. Hence, the Amber Alert was not issued sooner.
So far, around 200 citizens have volunteered to aid the authorities in the search for Athena and so far the search parties have combed about 50 acres to look for the missing child. According to CBS, volunteer Chastity Allerkemp said, "Look at how many people are here. It doesn't matter what we're going through, we're all moms, we're all family you know we have to rely on each other for this because we are all out here together."
"We're looking at everything from the criminal standpoint or just a missing child so we're not going to leave anything unturned and we're not going to put the blinders on either. It could be any number of things and we're looking at all those possibilities," Wise County Sheriff Lane Akin said, as per the outlet, as they battle cold weather to continue their search operations.
Gandy wrote on her Facebook page: "Please remember Athena is a very real, very loved little girl and her momma misses her very very much and momma's number one wish is to bring her home." In another post, she wrote: "I ask that everyone pray.. pray some more, continue to pray, and never stop praying. I cannot live without my baby and I need her brought home safely to me. Athena didn’t walk away or disappear on her own. I will not give up or stop until I have Athena back. I feel like there is a hole in my heart and half of my soul is missing."
The authorities have urged everyone to call the Wise County Sheriff's Office at 940-627-5971 if they have any information regarding Athena Strand's whereabouts.
Cover Image Source: CBSDFW / Youtube