After 7-year-old Athena Strand was abducted and killed in Texas by a contract FedEx delivery driver, scrutiny is mounting over whether shipping companies are doing enough to examine the thousands of drivers hired each year. meet the delivery demand during the holiday season.
Strand’s body was found late Friday night after he disappeared on Wednesday. Wise County Sheriff Lane Akin said investigators believe the suspect, a 30-year-old contract driver for FedEx, named Tanner Lynn Horner, kidnapped the girl and killed her with a “crime of opportunity” while making delivery to her family’s home in the North. Texas.
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Horner is charged with deadly murder and qualified kidnapping. The sheriff said he admitted to kidnapping Strand when questioned.
A FedEx spokesperson told Fox Business, “Our thoughts are with the Athena Strand family at this most difficult time. Words cannot express our shock and sadness at this tragic event, and we continue to cooperate fully with the investigating authorities.”
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Strand’s kidnapping and murder is the latest in multiple violent crimes committed by delivery drivers in recent years. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram noted that over the past two years, FedEx drivers have been accused of murder, rape, arson and theft. A few of these crimes were committed after drivers searched for opportunities while they were on their route.
Every year during the holiday season, FedEx and other shipping companies such as UPS staff work to meet the demand for package delivery, which, given the volume of applicants, poses a challenge to vetting drivers.
For example, UPS announced earlier this year that it will hire more than 100,000 employees to serve and work as drivers in distribution centers amid seasonal shipping growth. Both full-time and temporary workers are hired as employees, and UPS told Fox Business that its seasonal drivers go through background checks as part of the hiring process.
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FedEx did not specify how many workers it will add this year, but the number of seasonal additions in previous years has been reported in the thousands. The company regularly contracts with self-employed independent businesses as a way of increasing its capacity.
A FedEx spokesperson explained the company’s process of hiring contract drivers in a statement to Fox Business: “FedEx Ground has contracted throughout the year with independent businesses that provide package pickup and delivery services using their own employees, vehicles and equipment for us – and 6,000 service providers. Our network of companies – has a higher priority than ensuring the security of our operations within the communities we serve.”
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A FedEx spokesperson said, “As is common in the industry and accepted as standard practice, employees of service provider businesses are subject to a criminal background check as part of the eligibility process.” “If we become aware of any criminal activity in our network, we are working rapidly to investigate and address these incidents, including by collaborating with law enforcement.”