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Questions are swirling around the death of a missing Georgia mother whom authorities say may not have actually been a kidnapping victim, as previously theorized.
On Wednesday, investigators with the Habersham County Sheriff’s Office said they believed that Deborrah “Debbie” Todd Collier, 59, may not have been kidnapped, despite a message her daughter reportedly received after she went missing, according to multiple outlets, including People and NBC News.
“At this time, there is no evidence to suggest or support that this incident was related to a kidnapping,” the sheriff’s office announced late Wednesday evening, according to People. The sheriff’s office also reported Collier’s death was not a suicide.
Habersham County authorities did not respond to requests from Oxygen.com.
Collier's family reported her missing from her Athens, Georgia, home on Saturday, Sept. 10 after her daughter, 36-year-old Amanda Bearden, received an unsolicited Venmo payment for $2,385 from an account used by her mother.
A text accompanying the payment read, in part, “They are not going to let me go love you.”
Bearden claimed she tried to called her mother back, but to no avail; the Athens police were similarly unsuccessful, according to the missing person's report obtained by Fox News. Her husband, Steven Collier, told police he'd last seen his wife before he went to bed around 9:00 p.m. on Friday night, and her car — a Chrysler Pacifica she'd been renting while hers was in the shop — had been in the driveway when he left for work on Saturday morning.
The message sent investigators into search mode, fearing some person or persons had taken the married grandmother against her will.
Their search, however, ended tragically on the afternoon of Sept. 11, when SiriusXM notified the Habersham County Sheriff’s Office that, in response to the missing person's report, they had tracked Collier’s rental car to a logging road in Clarkesville, Georgia, which is about 50 miles north of Athens.
There, investigators from the Habersham County Sheriff’s Office and Tallulah Falls Police not only found Collier’s unlocked rental SUV but — with the help of K9 units — also found Collier’s body and a handful of clues nearby.
Collier was found face up and naked down an embankment, her hand around a small tree. Authorities observed burns on Collier’s body, primarily around her abdomen.
Not far from Collier’s remains were the remnants of a small fire, near an uprooted tree, a red tote bag and a partially burned blue tarp.
Collier’s official cause of death has yet to be determined, pending a postmortem examination, though police previously stated they were investigating the case as a homicide.
A sheriff’s office report cited by Fox Atlanta affiliate WAGA-TV “indicated” the incident might be drug-related, though it was unclear why it was classified as such. The report stated the drugs involved were "unknown." (Collier's vehicle was, however, found near a road leading to a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center.)
“Someone took my whole world from me,” her daughter, Bearden, told CBS Atlanta affiliate WGCL. “
So far, police have not released any information pertaining to a suspect or suspects in the case. According to People, investigators have executed search warrants “at locations tied to the victim” and continue interviewing “those closest with the victim.”
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