Deputies say there’s no indication that a random person or a serial killer murdered a woman found naked, burned, and dead off a Georgia Highway. Quite the opposite.
“We believe that this act was deliberate and personal,” Habersham County Chief Deputy Murray Kogod said in a press conference Friday.
Debbie Collier, 59, was found Sunday, Sept. 11 in a ravine, after investigators discovered her rented 2022 Chrysler Pacifica pulled over nearby on Georgia 15 northbound in the city of Clarkesville. Authorities have released footage of her shopping at a Family Dollar several miles away. She left the store at 3:09 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 10.
In the press conference on Friday, authorities said she spent 10 minutes in her vehicle in the parking lot before going southbound on Georgia 15/Highway 441/U.S. 23. This slightly narrows the timeline of the murder from Saturday, Sept. 10 at 3:19 p.m. all the way to Sunday, Sept. 11 at 12:44 p.m. Investigators found her missing Chrysler unlocked and unoccupied off Georgia 15 Northbound. Authorities discovered her nearby. She was grabbing a tree and had burns to her abdomen.
Investigators had found a red tote bag laid on its side near an uprooted tree. At the root ball of the tree, there seemed to be the remains of a fire. Then investigators found what seemed to be a partially burnt blue tarp.
“As he looked further down the embankment from the tarp, he observed a nude female laying on her back, grasping a small tree with her right hand,” investigators wrote. “SGT. NEAL approached the female, immediately observing her to be obviously deceased, and identifying her as COLLIER. SGT. NEAL observed COLLIER`S remains to be apparently burned with what appeared to be charring to her abdomen.”
Collier’s daughter Amanda Bearden previously arrived on the scene “in a hysterical state.”
“BEARDEN began screaming that the vehicle belonged to her mother,” authorities wrote. “(BEARDEN was notified by Athens-Clarke County PD that the vehicle was being pinged by Sirius XM and provided her with the approximate location of the latest ping.) SGT. NEAL and FOSTER spoke briefly with BEARDEN asking general questions in reference to COLLIER`S mental health state, and briefly about her medical history. BEARDEN advised SGT. NEAL and FOSTER that her mother did not have any history of any mental health issues, and denied any suicidal tendencies. She also stated that her mother had a bad back, and couldn`t have walked far.”
[Athens-Clarke County Police Sgt.] JOHNSON also advised [Habersham County Sheriff’s Sgt. Ethan Neal] that the last communication from COLLIER was to her daughter. He advised that COLLIER had used Venmo
to send approximately $2,300.00 to her daughter, with a message that stated something to the effect of (they won`t let me go, there is a key to the house underneath a flower pot).
Kogod said the autopsy — and therefore the cause of death — was pending. Crime lab analysis of items are still pending. They have her cell phone and purse, which were discovered at the crime scene, Cason said. They were just receiving responses to search warrants and subpoenas, Kogod said.
“It is going to take significantly more time than the 19 days that have passed since the discovery to solve this crime,” the chief deputy said.
Cason said that they are still working to confirm the Venmo payment’s source, but they can confirm the daughter received money.
“That much we do know right now,” he said.
Cason said they are working on getting surveillance footage on Georgia 15 toward the town of Tallulah Falls. They are asking business owners to look at their cameras and get in touch with investigators.
Deputies have asked that anyone with information call Investigator Cale Garrison at (706) 839-0559 or Cason at (706) 839-0560.
[Screenshot via Law&Crime Network]
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