HABERSHAM COUNTY, Ga. – Deputies say the burnt, naked remains of an Athens woman were found in Habersham County after she allegedly sent thousands of dollars in cash to her daughter and told her that “they won’t let me go”.
[DOWNLOAD: Free WSB-TV News app for alerts as news breaks]
Channel 2’s Audrey Washington was in Habersham County where the body of Deborah Todd Collier was found and a small memorial was growing on Wednesday.
Deputies said Deborah Todd Collier, 59, disappeared from her home in Athens on September 10. Her husband, Steven Collier, told police he last saw his wife around 9 p.m. the night before at bedtime. He said her car was still in the driveway when he left for work, so he assumed she was home. The couple are sleeping apart because of Steven Collier’s snoring, according to the police report.
The couple’s daughter, Amanda Bearden, told police that around 3 p.m. on the 10th, her mother sent her $2,385 via Venmo and the following message:
“They won’t let me go loving you there’s a key in the house in the blue flower pot by the door (SIC).”
Bearden said she tried to call her mother, but didn’t answer. Bearden said her mother only took her debit card and driver’s license with her and drove off in a black Chrysler van she had rented after destroying her own car.
On September 11, police tracked Collier’s car to Habersham County using his SiriusXM service.
Deputies found Collier’s car, a Chrysler Pacifica, parked on the side of a wooded area along GA 15 near Tallulah Falls with no one inside. The van was over 60 miles from Collier’s house.
Bearden arrived at the scene after SiriusXM informed her the car had been found and told deputies her mother had back pain and couldn’t walk far.
[SIGN UP: WSB-TV Daily Headlines Newsletter]
A K9 unit was dispatched to the scene and searched the area. Deputies found what looked like the remains of a fire in the woods. Shortly after, they found Collier’s body naked and burned. A partially burned blue tarp and a red tote bag were found nearby.
Deputies are still working to determine the circumstances surrounding Collier’s death. So far, they haven’t identified any suspects.
Investigators are treating the death as a homicide. The state medical examiner’s office conducts an autopsy.
Neighbors in the area where Collier’s body was found said his death angered them.
“I’m just going to start looking at people here differently,” said Alan Roberts. “Even in the foothills of the mountains, it’s not as safe as we always thought.”
Anyone with information is asked to contact the Habersham County Sheriff’s Office.
©2022 Cox Media Group