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Autopsy reveals Debbie Collier's death ruled a suicide, Habersham County Sheriff says

It was determined the 59-year-old's death was a result of "Inhalation of Superheated Gases, Thermal Injuries, and Hydrocodone Intoxication."

HABERSHAM COUNTY, Ga. — In a turn of events, Debbie Collier's death has been ruled a suicide by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation Medical Examiner's Office, according to the Habersham County Sheriff on Friday.

After receiving Collier's autopsy from the medical examiner, it was determined the 59-year-old's death was a result of "Inhalation of Superheated Gases, Thermal Injuries, and Hydrocodone Intoxication" and it was deemed "self-inflicted." 

The sheriff's office said it has followed up with Collier's family after receiving the medical examiner's report to discuss the specifics of their investigation.

Detectives have been investigating the circumstances surrounding the Athens woman's disappearance for several months after she was reported missing by her family on Sept. 10. Collier’s body was found partially nude and burned down a ravine on Sept. 11 in a remote area along GA 15 and Victory Home Lane in Clarkesville. The location is about 50 miles from her home in Athens.

11Alive previously obtained surveillance video of Collier buying several items inside a Family Dollar -- 13 miles away from where her body was found. In the video, police said Collier bought a rain poncho, a refillable torch lighter, a 2-roll pack of paper towels, a 7.5x9.5 OBD Tarp, and a reusable tote bag. The sheriff’s office confirmed the tarp and tote bag were found next to her body at the scene.

Detectives previously said they were investigating her death as a homicide. The sheriff's office previously said in a news conference the act was "deliberate and personal."

There were also mysterious circumstances surrounding a Venmo payment of $2,385 sent from Collier’s phone to her daughter's phone the day before her body was found, along with a text stating, “They won’t let me go. There is a key to the house underneath the flowerpot.” 

Habersham County Sheriff added during its investigation, detectives issued 26 search warrants and subpoenas "in relation to every form of social media, electronic communication, cellular tracking data, and banking records, and reviewed information gathered from the 20+ interviews of family members and potential witnesses." 

The sheriff's office said it would like to offer its "deepest sympathies" to Collier's family and friends.

"It is our hope and prayer that the findings of this investigation provide some form of closure and allow for the healing process to begin," the sheriff's office said in a release.

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