Debbie Collier disappearance and death: What we know

Athens woman Debbie Collier, found dead in Habersham County.

The sudden disappearance and death of Athens woman Debbie Collier shocked people across Georgia and the nation.

Details about the discovery of the woman's body in the woods in Habersham County raised questions about her disappearance and death. Investigators made a determination on the cause and manner of her death two months later. 

Here's everything investigators know about the case:

Who was Debbie Collier?

Debbie Todd Collier was a 59-year-old Athens resident, according to police. 

Police identified Collier's adult daughter as Amanda Bearden. She told investigators that her mother had no history of mental illness and that she had a "bad back," indicating to law enforcement she couldn't walk far on foot.

Carriage House Realty, Inc. in Athens employed someone by the name of Debbie Collier as a Front Office Manager, according to the website. The company's social media had not publicly acknowledged Debbie Collier's death as of Sept. 22.

Debbie Collier appears to have shared a Facebook account with her husband, Steve Collier. 

Collier was a Georgia Bulldogs football fan, according to the public Facebook posts.

When did Debbie Collier disappear?

Collier was reported missing from Athens on Sept. 10. Her daughter, Amanda Bearden, told investigators that her mother’s car was in the shop at the time and that she left home in a rented Chrysler Pacifica SUV, carrying only her license and a debit card. 

Based on the incident report narrative from the Habersham County Sheriff's Office, Athens-Clarke County police received assistance from Habersham deputies on Sept. 11. 

When, where was Debbie Collier found?

In the afternoon on Sept. 11, Habersham County deputies and Tallulah Falls Police Department officers responded to the area on Ga. Highway 15 in Clarkesville where Collier's car was reported. 

A police sergeant found a car parked in an apparent "pulloff" that led to an old logging road off Ga. Highway 15 on the northbound side, according to an incident report. 

A Tallulah Falls police officer told investigators the car was in the same spot at around 5 p.m. on Sept. 10. In the investigative report, the officer said it's ordinary for cars to pull over in the area. 


A memorial sits on the side of the road where the Athens woman’s body was found.

The car was unlocked and empty, according to the investigative narrative. 

Law enforcement called Georgia State Patrol Aviation for help. 

Who is Amanda Bearden?

Amanda Bearden is Debbie Collier's daughter. Habersham County investigators said Bearden lived in Maryland at an apartment complex with her brother until Sept. 8, when she moved to Georgia.

Documents obtained by Fox News Digital show that investigators searched the home where she lives with her boyfriend. The warrant is one of several investigators have executed, officials said.

Investigators said she spoke to her mother on Saturday afternoon on the phone, the day before Collier's body was discovered. 

At some point, Bearden received a Venmo transfer from an account named after Steve Collier. 

Investigators confirmed Bearden received that money.

How did investigators use satellite radio to find Debbie Collier's car?


Investigators in Habersham County where Debbie Collier's body was discovered. 

Someone working for Sirius XM contacted Habersham County Sheriff's Office investigators on behalf of Athens-Clarke County police regarding the location of Debbie Collier's car.

The satellite radio provider said there was a signal coming from Ga. Highway 15 and Victory Home Lane in Clarkesville. 

Not every car with Sirius XM is capable of being tracked by law enforcement. 

Is Debbie Collier's disappearance, death drug-related?

Authorities said the investigation is not leading them to a drug-related incident.

A Habersham County Sheriff's Office report said the investigation indicated the incident was drug-related. 

Investigators said patrol deputies sometimes mark "whatever may be applicable," as a possibility.

What was the cause of Debbie Collier's death?

Debbie Collier’s death was ruled a suicide by the G.B.I. Medical Examiner’s Office, according to the Habersham County Sheriff's Office. 

The Habersham County Sheriff's Office said Friday autopsy results show Collier died from "inhalation of superheated gases, thermal injuries, and hydrocodone intoxication."

Investigators met with the family before sharing the autopsy findings.


Investigators discovered her partially burned, naked and "grasping a small tree," according to police documents. 

Downhill from the scene, investigators found a blue tarp with burn marks, and "a nude female laying on her back, grasping a small tree with her right hand," according to the incident report.

Investigators believe whoever was responsible attempted to burn the body. Her remains were "apparently burned with what appeared to be charring to her abdomen."

Investigators said there is no evidence to suggest Debbie Collier's disappearance and death are related to kidnapping or suicide. 

Collier's daughter told investigators her mother did not have a history of suicidal tendencies.

Collier's body went to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation's crime lab. Investigators said the initial timeline to conduct a full autopsy would be six weeks, but that may be expedited. 

How is Venmo connected to Debbie Collier's death?

Athens-Clarke County Police Department investigators told Habersham County Sheriff's Office deputies that the last known message from Debbie Collier was a Venmo transfer from an account belonging to Steve Collier to Amanda Bearden, who police identify as the Collier's daughter. 

The message with the transfer says, "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." 


FOX 5 Atlanta obtained the original Venmo transfer from Steve Collier to Amanda Bearden. 

FOX 5 Atlanta obtained an image of a Venmo transfer from Steve Collier to Amanda Bearden. 

Police said the transfer was for $2,385. 

Based on previous transactions, Debbie Collier may have had access to the Venmo account.

Investigators said they don't know where the money is now but confirmed Amanda Bearden received the initial money transfer.

Is there a suspect or person of interest in Debbie Collier's death?

Investigators had not "ruled anyone out" when they spoke to reporters on Sept. 30, but if Collier's death is ruled a suicide or accidental, the case could be closed.

The Habersham County Sheriff's Office said investigators executed several search warrants at locations directly tied to the victim.

Investigators in Habersham County also interviewed "those closest to the victim."

"Upon receiving results and reports from all submissions and subpoenaed records, sheriff's office investigators look to identify persons of interest for further follow-up and interview," a statement from the sheriff's office said. 

Where was Debbie Collier last seen alive?

Surveillance video from a Family Dollar a few miles away from where Collier was found in Habersham County shows the woman buying a red reusable tote bag, a 2-roll pack of paper towels, tarp, rain poncho and reusable lighter at the store in Clayton.

Collier enters the store at 2:55 p.m. and leaves at 3:09 p.m. on Sept. 10.

A spokesperson for the Habersham County Sheriff's Office said that investigators were reviewing surveillance video taken at the store and confirmed obtaining the surveillance video and Collier's receipt. The video showed she appeared to be alone in the van when she went to the store. 

Investigators said they had information that Amanda Bearden was at that store the same day. Detectives determined that Bearden never went to the store after talking to the store clerk and reviewing security footage.

Anyone with information is asked to call Habersham County Sheriff's Office investigators Cale Garrison at 706-839-0559 or George Cason at 706-839-0560. 

FOX News Digital contributed to this report.