Daughter of deceased Athens resident Debbie Collier says mother took her own life

Updated: Nov 12


By Joe Johnson

The daughter of Deborah Collier, the 59-year-old Athens woman whose disappearance and subsequent death two months ago is believed by her daughter to have been a suicide.

That puts Amanda Bearden at odds with authorities in Habersham County, where Collier’s body was found on Sept. 11, and where the woman’s death is being investigated as a homicide.

For the first time this week, Bearden spoke of her mother’s death during a YouTube livestream of the “Crime on the Record” podcast, in which Bearden said her mother had begun “giving me all of her things” and “had taken the whole week off” before she disappeared.

“No one saw her on Friday” before Collier disappeared, Bearden said during the Wednesday evening podcast. She said “there were actions” Collier took that in hindsight seem “weird.”

“She was dealing with stuff that she didn’t want to burden me with,” Bearden said. The podcast was the first time Bearden publicly said she believed that her mother committed suicide.

Bearden’s belief is at odds with that of the Habersham County Sheriff’s Office, which said it was investigating Collier’s death as a homicide.

On Sept. 15, Habersham County Chief Sheriff's Deputy Murray Kogod told Classic City News that it appeared as though Collier died as the result of foul play.

At this time, we are investigating the case as if it were a homicide rather than a suicide,” he said. “All preliminary information and evidence gathered to this point does not indicate a suicide situation.”

Kogod said that when Collier’s body was located it was still "grasping a small tree with her right hand" at the base of an embankment.

Nearby, he said, deputies spotted the remnants of a fire, and that Collier's remains were "apparently burned with what appeared to be charring to her abdomen."

Before they discovered Collier's body, deputies found a tote bag and blue tarp that had been partially burned, Kogod said.

Additionally, he said that other items of evidence were recovered from the scene, but he did not specify what those items were.

There was no evidence to suggest that Collier's death resulted from a kidnapping, or was a suicide, according to Kogod.

Steve Collier told Athens-Clarke County police he last saw his wife at 9 p.m. Sept. 10 and her car was still in the driveway when he left for work the following morning.

He said that he and his wife slept in separate bedrooms because of his snoring, according to the ACCPD missing person report, which indicated the only things Deborah took were her driver's license and debit card.

Steve Collier and Bearden were both concerned after Bearden received a disturbing message from her mother as part of a $2,385 Venmo transfer, according to the report.

Bearden said she tried calling her mother several times, but Collier never answered, and when police tried calling, it went straight to voicemail, the report noted.

The New York Post reported neighbors heard the sounds of arguing coming from the Collier residence the night before Deborah was reported missing.

There was commotion at the house,” a neighbor told the newspaper, which noted the neighbor said she frequently heard shouting from Collier’s home atop a small, wooded hill in Athens.

Collier worked for years at Carriage House Realty in Athens as the front office manager.

Her body was located on Sept.11, and the missing persons case shifted to a homicide investigation the next day, when the body of Collier — who had messaged her daughter, "They are not going to let me go, love you" — was found near her rented Chrysler Pacifica after Habersham County dispatch was notified by ACCPD that a Sirius XM service representative told them that they had received an alert that the minivan was in the area of Georgia Highway 15 and Victory Home Lane in Clarkesville, according to the Habersham sheriff’s office.

Athens is about an hour's drive from the site where Collier's body was located.

Officials have not yet commented on any possible persons of interest or potential suspects, nor has the sheriff’s office released new updates to the investigation.

Kogod asked for anyone with information about this case to contact Investigator George Carson at 706-839-0560, or Investigator Cale Garrison at 706-839-0559.

Both were concerned after Bearden received a disturbing message from her mother as part of a $2,385 Venmo transfer,

Both were concerned after Bearden received a disturbing message from her mother as part of a $2,385 Venmo transfer,

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