Vids show Athens woman shopping day before body was found in Habersham County, burned and part naked


Deborah Collier

By Joe Johnson

The Athens woman whose body was found partially nude and burned earlier this month down an embankment in northeast Georgia was seen shopping in a store not far from where her she was found and on the same day her family reported her missing, according to the Habersham Couty Sheriff’s Office.

Deborah Collier, 59, appeared to be calm and unafraid during a trip to a Family Dollar in Clayton at about 3 p.m. Sept 10, about 13 miles north of where her body was found in Clarkesville.

Outside surveillance cameras recorded Collier arriving alone to the store in a minivan she had rented, the sheriff’s office said.

Authorities have suggested that Collier might have been a victim of homicide, but they were awaiting results of an autopsy to determine the cause and manner of death.

Col. Murray Kogod, Habersham’s chief deputy, last week said that when the 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." There was no evidence to suggest that Collier's death resulted from a kidnapping, or was a suicide, according to Kogod.

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

The sheriff’s office said Family Dollar surveillance video shows Collier purchasing a rain poncho, a refillable torch lighter, two rolls of paper towels, a tarp and a tote bag.

The Collier death investigation has had its share of twists and turns.

Collier was found dead in a ravine about 60 miles from her home on Rocky Drive in Athens home on Sept. 11, after she wired her daughter $2,385 along with the alarming message, “They are not going to let me go, love you.”

The wire transfer and cryptic message caused the woman’s husband and daughter to file a missing person report, police said.

The Habersham Sheriff’s Office said they found the videos of Collier shopping at Family Dollar on Sept. 10 when checking on a report that the woman’s daughter was there.

Surveillance video footage “revealed “(the daughter) was not at the store on the 10th of September,” according to the sheriff’s office.

Anyone with information about the case is asked to call Investigator Cale Garrison at (706) 839-0559 or Investigator George Cason at (706) 839—0560.

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