Debbie Collier

Debbie Collier: Georgia Medical Examiner Rules Athens Mom’s Death a Suicide

Autopsy results say that a Georgia mother found dead in the woods near Tallulah Falls died from a suicide.

The report says that Debbie Collier died  from “inhalation of superheated gases, thermal injuries, and hydrocodone intoxication,” Habersham County Deputy Coroner Ken Franklin told Now Habersham.

Collier, 59, was reported missing on September 10 after she sent her daughter, Amanda Bearden, more than $2,000 via Venmo with a mysterious message that indicated she may have been kidnapped, as CrimeOnline previously reported.

“They are not going to let me go love you there is a key to the house in the blue flowerpot by the door,” the message read.

Collier’s body was found the next day, partially nude and partially burned and 60 miles from the family’s Athens home in Habersham County. The Habersham County Sheriff’s Office said it was investigating the death as a homicide and at one point said Collier’s death was “personal and targeted.”

Much speculation centered around Bearden herself, as reports surfaced of her substance abuse and intense relationship with her boyfriend. But in an appearance on the podcast “Crime on the Record” last week, Bearden said she had come to believe her mother killed herself, noting that she had been “giving away things” and had seemed inordinately sad.

And now, the State Medical Examiner’s Office confirms her speculation.

“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,” Franklin said.

“I’m glad it’s over, but I’m sorry for the family and all that they have had to go through,” he added. “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.”

Collier’s son, Jeffrey Bearden, has been critical of the investigation and has called for the resignation of Sheriff Joey Terrell. Amanda Bearden, however, praised the investigation, specifically lead investigator George Cason.

“He was fired up. He genuinely acted like this was his mother out there,” she said on the podcast. “The criticism that law enforcement has been given, it hasn’t been from me.”

The sheriff’s office had no comment about the release of the autopsy results.

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[Featured image: Debbie Collier/Facebook]