Mother Sends Cryptic Message Moments Before Police Find Burned Body


“They are not going to let me go love you there is a key to the house in the blue flower pot by the door.”

That was the disturbing Venmo message Debbie Collier, 59, sent her daughter shortly after 3 p.m. on Sept. 10—along with $2,300—before leaving her Athens, Georgia home in a rented SUV and vanished. Less than 24 hours later, authorities discover her nude and severely burned body in a ravine about an hour away.

According to a Habersham County Sheriff’s Office incident report, investigators found Collier on Sept. 11 “laying on her back, grasping a small tree with her right hand.”

“Collier’s remains were apparently burned with what appeared to be charring to her abdomen,” the report added, noting that remnants of a burned tarp and a red tote bag were nearby.

Authorities investigating the gruesome case say they have not identified any suspects but noted a number of search warrants and interviews have been conducted.

Collier’s daughter, Amanda Bearden, reported her mom missing on the evening of Sept. 10 after receiving the Venmo payment. Bearden told police “the message scared her and got her worried for her mom, so she tried calling her but she did not pick up.”

“Amanda also informed that her mother did not take anything with her but her driver's license and debit card,” the police report states. Bearden told police that Collier left the house in a rented black Chrysler Pacifica because her car had recently been in a crash.

Police also spoke with Collier’s husband, Steven, on Sept. 10. He told police he had not seen his wife of nine years since the evening of Sept. 9, when he went to bed around 9 p.m. He said when he left for work in the morning, Collier’s rental car was still in the driveway.

Habersham County dispatch was contacted by a Sirius XM representative saying they’d gotten an alert that Collier’s car was in their area. They added the car was either “stopped or pulled over” about an hour away from Collier’s home.

When officers arrived at the location they found the unlocked car pulled off the road. Collier was found yards away near a red tote by an “uprooted tree.” Next to the tree were “the remains of a fire,” the report added.

Bearden also arrived at the scene “in a hysterical state” and began “screaming that the vehicle belonged to her mother.” The officer asked Bearden about her mother’s mental state to which she insisted that her mother “did not have any history of mental health issues and denied any suicidal tendencies.”

“She also stated that her mother had a bad back, and couldn’t have walked far,” the incident report states.

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