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Some of a slain Georgia mom’s final moments were captured in video footage before she mysteriously was found dead, naked and burned in the nearby woods.
Debbie Collier, a 59-year-old mother of two, was seen calmly walking into the Family Dollar store in Clayton, Georgia around 2:55 p.m. on September 10 and shopping for around 14 minutes, according to footage released to The Daily Beast Sept. 26 by the Habersham County Sheriff’s Office.
In the footage, Collier, who was wearing a red jersey and visor, is shown purchasing a refillable torch lighter, two-roll pack of paper towels, tarp, reusable tote bag and rain poncho as she chatted with the store clerk before leaving the store at 3:09 p.m.
Less than 10 minutes later, authorities said she sent her daughter, Amanda Bearden, a nearly $2,400 Venmo payment and a cryptic message that read “They are not going to let me go love you there is a key to the house in the blue flower pot by the door.”
She was found dead the next day at 12:44 p.m. in a ravine about 13 miles from the store. She was naked and gripping a small tree with her right hand, according to an incident report previously reviewed by Oxygen.com. She had “what appeared to be charring on her abdomen” after being burned, authorities said.
Several of the items she had purchased from the store, including a “partially burnt” blue tarp and the red tote bag, were found near the body.
Authorities have said they are treating Collier’s death as a homicide and have ruled out kidnapping or a suicide, but are still trying to piece together what happened to the 59-year-old.
The sheriff’s office has said Collier appeared to be “calm and not in fear of anything,” while shopping at The Family Dollar store shortly before her disappearance.
“All video footage obtained from the store and surrounding businesses reflect that [Collier] was alone in the van at the time she visited the store,” the sheriff’s office said in a statement to The Daily Beast.
Esther Kreller, the clerk who rang her up for the purchases, told local news station WXIA-TV Sept. 26 that she remembered checking Collier out but didn’t remember anything specific about their conversation.
“She didn’t seem in distress or anything,” Kreller said.
She also noted that at the time there had been nothing unusual about her purchases.
"It still gives me the chills [because] like nothing looked suspicious or out of the ordinary,” she said.
The video footage provides authorities with a more specific timeline. Authorities now know that Collier died sometime between 3:10 p.m. on Sept. 10 and 12:44 p.m. the next day, when the body was discovered after authorities located her rented Chrysler Pacifica parked along Georgia Route 15.
It's suggested in a report from the sheriff’s office that the death could be drug-related, although it is not clear what led them to that possibility, local news station WAGA-TV reports.
Collier’s husband, Steven Collier, told authorities that he last saw his wife around 9 p.m. on Sept. 9. The couple slept in separate bedrooms and he didn’t see her when he left for work the next morning but noted that her rental SUV was still parked in their driveway, according to The Daily Beast.
He reported her missing around 6 p.m. on Sept. 10.
Collier’s family has said that she had no known mental health issues and was not suicidal.
Her son Jeffrey Bearden said in a statement to The Daily Beast that the family was asking for privacy as they grieve.
He described his mother as his “longest source of love, support, and encouragement.”
“My mother was a very vibrant and strong soul,” he said. “She was a person who valued kindness, empathy, and understanding throughout her entire life. She went through life recognizing the beauty and grace in everything she saw and experienced around her.”
Anyone with information about her death is urged to contact the Habersham County Sheriff’s Office.
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