Police have revealed new details about the circumstances surrounding the death of Debbie Collier, the Georgia mom who disappeared after sending her daughter a chilling text after surveillance footage revealed that she purchased several items that were found on or near her body when she was discovered.
The Habersham County Sheriff’s Office Criminal Investigations Division (CID), the organization investigating Collier’s death, said in a press release Monday afternoon that Collier was alone when she entered the Family Dollar Store in Clayton, Georgia, on Saturday, September 10.
Over the weekend, The CID said that it had received information claiming that Collier’s daughter, 36-year-old Amanda Bearden, had been at the store that day, but after talking to the clerk on duty and reviewing store camera footage, police determined she had not been there.
However, the footage revealed that Collier herself had entered the store at around 2:55 p.m., and exited around 3:09 p.m. While she was there, she appeared calm and “not in fear of anything,” the CID said in its press release. Authorities said she purchased a rain poncho, refillable torch lighter, paper towels, a large tarp and a reusable tote back.
Collier was found in a ravine 60 miles from her Athens, Georgia, home just a day later. She had severe burns on her body and there was the remains of a burned tarp nearby.
The Habersham County Sheriff’s Office said in its incident report that an investigator “observed a nude female laying on her back, grasping a small tree with her right hand” about 30 feet from the road. The report also said Collier had “charring to her abdomen.”
The store surveillance footage helps investigators narrow the time of Collier’s death to sometime between 3:09 p.m. on September 10 and the time her body was discovered around 12:44 p.m. on September 11, the CID said.
Collier’s daughter reported her mother missing on September 10 after she received a text from her mother, which read, “They are not going to let me go, love you.” Collier had reportedly sent Bearden $2,385 over Venmo along with the message.
Bearden told police that she immediately tried to call her mother’s phone after she received the message but received no response. After she reported her mother’s disappearance, police also tried to call Collier’s phone, which also received no response.
Bearden and her father also told police that it was “unusual for Deborah to do this” and that she “has not done anything like this before.”
Police were then able to use the Sirius XM satellite radio in Collier’s SUV to track her movements after she left home on Saturday. They tracked the vehicle to an area off U.S. 441 and alerted the Habersham County Sheriff’s Office. When the sheriff’s office searched the area where the SUV was found using a K-9 unit, they discovered Collier’s body in a ravine that could not be seen from the highway, local outlet WXIA-TV reported.
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