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Mystery of Athens woman’s disappearance, homicide continues 1 week after family’s disturbing missing person's report

Debbie Collier's adult daughter told police Collier vanished on Sept. 10 and then messaged her: “They are not going to let me go, love you.”

ATLANTA — The mystery of an Athens woman’s disappearance and death continued to unfold slowly Friday night, one week after she was spending what would be her last night at home.

Debbie Collier, 59, vanished the next day, Saturday, Sept. 10.

Her body was found the day after that, an hour away near her SUV in some woods off of U.S. 441 in Habersham County, in north Georgia.

Investigators are releasing few details about her last hours of life, confirming only that they’re treating her death as a homicide, not a suicide.

They are also focusing on her daughter’s disturbing statement to police, pointing to what might have been a violent kidnapping.

However, releases from the sheriff’s office about the investigation remain few and terse.

What had brought Debbie Collier to that area of Habersham County, so far from her Athens home? Who would have attacked her? Was she killed where her body was found, or somewhere else and taken there?

At the crime scene Sunday, Sept. 11, investigators recovered her body and secured her SUV which was parked next to the highway-- the SUV she had rented because her own car was in the shop.

Investigators are digging into the disturbing missing person's report that Debbie Collier’s daughter had filed Saturday evening, Sept. 10.

The report said Collier had left the home she shares with her husband in Athens some time that Saturday, in her rented SUV.

Collier’s daughter, Amanda Bearden, 36, told Athens Clarke County Police that, that afternoon her mother had suddenly sent her $2,385 through Venmo, along with a message to her, “They are not going to let me go, love you.” Her daughter said Collier had left home with only her driver's license and debit card.

It turns out Collier’s rented SUV was equipped with SiriusXM satellite radio, and on Sunday SiriumXM tracked the SUV to U.S. 441 near Victory Home Lane, 60 miles north of the Collier’s home in Athens, and contacted the Habersham County Sheriff’s Office.

The sheriff’s office used a K-9 to search the woods near the SUV, and found her body in a ravine nearby, out of sight from the highway.

Debbie Collier had worked, for years, for Carriage House Realty in Athens as the front office manager. No one there was available to speak about her late Friday afternoon.

She and her husband got married in 2013. Her Facebook feed focused on family, and hiking trips with her husband, and sharing uplifting, spiritual encouragement.

So far, Debbie Collier’s family and friends have declined to comment publicly about her, and about the love and memories of those close to her, as investigators continue to work to uncover who might have been threatening her, who killed her, and why.

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