Body found in Habersham County is that of missing Athens woman

Habersham County Deputy Coroner Ken Franklin talks with Debbie Collier's family members at the scene where her body was found near Tallulah Falls on September 11, 2022. Collier's husband, Steven, seen here holding an umbrella, was among those at the scene. (

Authorities have confirmed that the body found over the weekend in Habersham County is that of Debbie Collier. Family members reported the 59-year-old Athens woman missing on Saturday evening, September 10. Her body was found less than 24 hours later in the woods off of GA 15/US 441 just south of the main entrance to the Victory Home addiction recovery center in Tallulah Falls.

Investigators remove the remains of a woman found dead in the woods in northern Habersham County on Sept. 11, 2022. She has since been identified as Debbie Collier, 59, of Athens. (

Local authorities searched the woods after a radio satellite service tipped them off that a van Collier had rented was in the area. The black Chrysler Pacifica was found parked on the side of the highway within plain sight of passing cars. In the adjoining woods, a K9 unit located a red tote bag and partially-burned blue tarp.

“Further search resulted in locating the body of a female subject down an embankment close to where the bag and tarp were located,” says HCSO Col. Murray Kogod.

The Habersham County Sheriff’s Office Criminal Investigations Division, coroner’s office, and State Fire Marshal’s Office were notified of the discovery and responded to the scene. Investigators also notified Collier’s family. Several family members, including her husband, stood nearby as authorities removed her remains from the scene.

Authorities have still not given any indication as to how or when Collier died, but the missing person report filed by her daughter recounts an ominous exchange.

A SiriusXM representative notified authorities as to the location of Collier’s rented van. Patrol deputies and a K9 unit found her body in the adjacent woods. (

According to Athens-Clarke County Police, Amanda Bearden told officers she received a $2,385 Venmo payment from her mother Saturday afternoon. It came with a message, “they are not going to let me go love you.” Bearden told police the message scared and worried her. She tried calling her mom but could not reach her.

Steven Collier told police he last saw his wife around 9 p.m. on September 9 as he was going to bed. When he left for work Saturday morning, he said her vehicle was still in the driveway.

They two told police Collier took her driver’s license and debit card with her but nothing else. They said it was “unusual” for her to go off like this and she had not done anything like it before.

The GBI medical examiner will conduct an autopsy to determine the exact cause and manner of death. Meanwhile, the sheriff’s office continues its investigation.


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