Death of Georgia realtor Debbie Collier’s death is ruled a suicide after coroner concluded she burned herself to death while naked in ravine
Collier was last seen on September 10 when she left her Athens home en route to Clarksville, approximately 60 miles away
The next day, the 59-year-old real married grandmother’s body was found naked and partially burned in a wooded ravine near Tallulah Falls
This week, it was revealed that the Georgia Medical Examiner’s Office has ruled Collier’s death a suicide
She suffered ‘inhalation of superheated gases, thermal injuries, and hydrocodone intoxication,’ the coroner said
The coroner added: ‘It’s pretty evident that she started the fire. From what I saw and what I considered to be the case is that this was a self-inflicted death’
Last week, Collier’s daughter, Amanda Bearden, told the Crime on the Record podcast that she believed her mother had taken her own life
Her brother Jeffrey Bearden, from onset has been highly critical of how local investigators and Habersham County Sheriff Joey Terrell have handled his mother’s death
On October 27, he filed a formal complaint against sheriff Joey Terrell with the sheriff’s office over Terrell’s response to his concerns about leaks in the case .
The death of Georgia mom Debbie Collier, who was found naked and burned in a ravine, has been ruled a suicide.
Collier was last seen on September 10 when she left her Athens home en route to Clarksville, approximately 60 miles away. The next day, the 59-year-old real estate agent’s body was found naked and partially burned in a wooded ravine near Tallulah Falls – with her purse and cell phone nearby.
Collier’s horrific death was initially feared to have been the result of a homicide.
This week, it was revealed that the Georgia Medical Examiner’s Office has ruled Collier’s death a suicide, having suffered ‘inhalation of superheated gases, thermal injuries, and hydrocodone intoxication,’ according to Habersham County Deputy Coroner Ken Franklin.
Franklin added: ‘It’s pretty evident that she started the fire. From what I saw and what I considered to be the case is that this was a self-inflicted death, but I was relying on the results of the autopsy and the doctor at the lab to make the final call.’
An arson analysis confirmed the presence of gasoline on Collier’s clothes. Her injuries were consistent with those of someone caught in a flash fire possibly caused by gasoline vapors igniting.
Collier, who suffered from back problems, took medication for her pain, her daughter says.
Debbie was found dead in a ravine in Georgia on September 11, with physical burns on her naked body. Law enforcement initially said they believed she had been killed but are reportedly, exploring the possibility that her death was an accident or suicide.
Last week, Collier’s daughter, Amanda Bearden, told the Crime on the Record podcast that she believed her mother had taken her own life.
She told the hosts that her mother had begun to share ‘key, intimate things’ with her in the weeks leading up to her death.
‘Looking back on it, it just almost seemed like she was giving me all of her things,’ Bearden said.
Bearden added that the last time she saw her mother alive, her mother had ‘tears in her eyes. I’d never seen her that sad.’
County Deputy Coroner Franklin told the New Habersham: ‘I’m glad it’s over, but I’m sorry for the family and all that they have had to go through. All of the questioning and suspicion and things they’ve had to go through made it difficult for them to live a normal life. I feel sorry for them and my prayers go with them.’
On September 30, the Habersham County Sheriff’s Department issued a press release providing a timeline of the crime, and released surveillance video.
The footage shows Collier browsing a Family Dollar in Clayton on September 10, the day before her partially burned body was discovered.
In the video she is seen purchasing items including, a tarp, a refillable torch light, reusable tote bag, two-roll pack of paper towels, and a rain poncho.
Jeffery Bearden is questioning why his mom would drive further to a Dollar store when there was a Dollar General a half mile from her home in Athens, adding that he’d never known her to be a camper. Bearden also pointed out the family home has numerous tarps and reusable bags, since his stepfather works in construction.
More poignant is his remark that the blonde-haired woman with red visor, doesn’t even look his mother.
‘I have a lot of concerns about if that was my mom in that actual video because that doesn’t actually appear of like her posture,’ he said, as reported by 11 Alive News.
Bearden said that his sister, Amanda, 36, whose had a sketchy history, ranging from a brief prison stint for faking a drug test to arrests for fighting with her boyfriend, Andrew Giegerich, had moved back to town two days before their mom went missing.
Amanda, who had been living in Maryland moved into her mother’s house with Giegerich, The New York Post reported.
Though Bearden did not believe his sister was involved in his mother’s mysterious disappearance, he claimed he was was suspicious and troubled by the company his sister kept.
Debbie Collier shops at Family Dollar on day she disappeared
Amanda was apparently the last person, who had seen her mother and was the one who reported her disappearance to police, The New York Post reported.
‘I do not think my sister has the capacity to hurt my mom. She was my mom’s lifeline,’ Bearden said.
He added: ‘But, I don’t trust the people that my sister hangs out with, and that’s my concern.’
Additional disturbing details reveal a transfer of funds – $2,385 sent from Collier’s Venmo app – with an arcane message: ‘They won’t let me go. There is a key to the house underneath the flowerpot,’ he said.
Bearden called the move to transfer a large sum of money ‘very out of character for his mom.’
‘I’ve never seen my mom Venmo that large amount of money,’ he said, in part, and stated that he also did not know what was meant by the word ‘they’ that was written in the final text.
Habersham County Sheriff’s Office Chief have not yet released the names of any suspects in the case.
But, officials claimed Collier’s death was not a random act of violence or the act of a serial killer, but the work of someone who knew her.
‘We believe that this act was deliberate and personal,’ Deputy Murray Kogod said.
They also said they could not yet confirm that the Venmo message was sent from the device.
Bearden desperate for answers has been vocal about the police investigation sharing his woes on Facebook.
‘I was met with a Sheriff who did not empathize with my situation, my concerns for my personal and family’s safety after being doxxed online, or potential leaks coming out of his office,’ the grieving son wrote.
The distraught son said he will not give up, telling those responsible that, he will not ‘stop until you are in jail or on death row.’
Footage of some of Collier’s last moments alive show her calmly walking into a Family Dollar in Clayton, Georgia, at 2.55pm on Saturday, September 10 and buying a number of items later found along with her body.
She was wearing a replica Herschel Walker jersey from his time playing for the University of Georgia, a blue skirt, what appear to be black boots with slight heels and a red sun visor.
The real estate office manager was then seen at the cash register buying a rain poncho, refillable torch lighter, a 2-roll pack of paper towels, a 7.5ft. x 9.5ft. tarp, and a reusable tote bag – before leaving at 3.09pm.
She then waited in the black 2022 Pacifica for 10 minutes until 3.19pm before heading south on GA15.
Her body was found partly burned near Tallulah Falls, Georgia on September 11.
Jeffrey Bearden, from onset has been highly critical of how local investigators and Habersham County Sheriff Joey Terrell have handled his mother’s death. On October 27, he filed a formal complaint against Terrell with the sheriff’s office over Terrell’s response to his concerns about leaks in the case.