Deputies: Murder of mom found burned, naked after sending cryptic text was “deliberate and personal”

HAMBERSHAM COUNTY, Ga. — Deputies now say they believe the murder of an Athens mother whose burned and naked body was found in Habersham County earlier this month was “deliberate and personal.”

The Habersham County Sheriff’s Office held a news conference Friday morning on the mysterious death of Deborrah Collier, who vanished from Athens on Sept. 10 after sending her daughter a cryptic text and thousands in cash via Venmo.

[DOWNLOAD: Free WSB-TV News app for alerts as news breaks]

Deputies said that at some point the day before Collier died, her daughter received a strange message saying “they aren’t going to let me go,” and more than $2,000 in cash through the Venmo app.

Collier was found dead Sept. 11 in a ravine in Habersham County near a burned tarp and a tote bag. Surveillance video released earlier this week showed Collier in a Family Dollar store in Rabun County buying similar items. Workers at that store told Channel 2′s Audrey Washington that Collier did not appear distressed in the store and was alone.

“We don’t believe that this is a random act of violence. We do not believe this was the act of a serial killer,” deputies said Friday. “We believe that this act was deliberate and personal.”


Deputies also said Friday that they have obtained new surveillance video from outside the Family Dollar that shows the last moments that Collier was known to be alive.

The video shows her exit the store and get into her van, where she stayed for about 10 minutes. Deputies said Collier then left the store and drove south on Highway 441.

Deputies said results of an autopsy to determine Collier’s cause of death are still pending, as are search warrants and subpoenas.

[SIGN UP: WSB-TV Daily Headlines Newsletter]

They have been able to determine that Collier’s daughter, Amanda Bearden, did receive money from her mother, but said they don’t know where that money went.

They said the last time Bearden talked to her mother was on Sept. 10.

“Please understand that this case is very complex in nature and has a lot of questions and unknows that are not typical for a death investigation,” deputies said. “It’s going to take significantly more time than the 19 days that have passed to solve this crime.”

Channel 2′s Audrey Washington visited Bearden’s home Friday, but she was extremely upset and said she had no comment and told Washington to get off her property.

Washington did talk to Collier’s husband, Steve Collier, who said he would like the sheriff’s office to solve the case.

Comments on this article