Sheriff’s Office Says Georgia Mom Debbie Collier Wasn’t Kidnapped Despite Cryptic Venmo Message
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Authorities in Georgia do not believe Debbie Collier was abducted before she was found dead in a ravine earlier this month — despite the 59-year-old mother’s mysterious Venmo message to her daughter before she disappeared, suggesting “don’t they will let me go”.
“At this time, there is no evidence to suggest or support that this incident was related to the kidnapping or that this is a suicide,” the Habersham County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement late Wednesday.
The revelation only fuels more questions about what happened to Collier after she was reported missing on September 10 by her husband, Steve, and daughter. The report was made hours after Collier’s daughter, Amanda Bearden, received a Venmo payment of nearly $2,400 from her mother.
“They won’t let me go, I love you, there’s a house key in the blue pot by the door,” the message on the Venmo payment read.
Less than 24 hours later, authorities found Collier naked and badly burned in a ravine about an hour from her home in Athens.
A Habersham County Sheriff’s Office incident report obtained by The Daily Beast said Collier was found “lying on his back, holding a small tree with his right hand.” Her remains were found next to a burnt tarp, a red bag and a rental car she was using after she crashed her car.
Details on Collier’s cause of death are still pending, although authorities are treating the case as a homicide. Collier’s family did not immediately respond to The Daily Beast’s request for comment.
Although authorities have not yet released a motive for the killing, a neighbor said The New York Post that Collier had been involved in a “screaming and fighting” incident the night before he disappeared.
“There was commotion in the house,” said the neighbor, who was not identified. Another neighbor said Collier and her husband didn’t mix with other residents on the street, including never participating in housing on the block.
An Athens-Clarke County missing persons report states that investigators spoke with Steve Collier, Debbie’s husband of nine years, on September 10. He told police he hadn’t seen his wife since the evening of Sept. 9—the night of the alleged “commotion”—when he went to bed around 9 p.m. He said when he left for work in the morning, Collier’s rental SUV was still in the alley.
“He clarified that he and Deborrah sleep in separate bedrooms because of the snoring,” the report said. “Both Amanda and Steven stated that it was unusual for Deborrah to do this. She’s never done anything like this before.”
Around 12:30 a.m. on September 11, Collier’s rental car was seen stopped near an old logging road. Her body was found just a few meters away, next to a red bag, next to an uprooted tree. Next to the tree appeared to be “the remains of a fire,” the report added.
Bearden told police her mother “had no history of mental health issues and denied any suicidal tendencies,” the incident report states. “She also said that her mother had a bad back and she wouldn’t have been able to walk very far.”
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