Police: Debbie Collier, missing Athens woman, died from self-inflicted wounds

Autopsy determines the woman whose death made national headlines died from inhaling ‘superheated gases,’ ‘thermal injuries and hydrocodone intoxication’
The body of the Athens wife, mother and businesswoman was found Sept. 11, 2022.
The body of the Athens wife, mother and businesswoman was found Sept. 11, 2022.(WANF)
Published: Nov. 18, 2022 at 3:57 PM EST|Updated: Nov. 18, 2022 at 4:29 PM EST
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ATLANTA, Ga. (Atlanta News First) - ) Police now believe Debbie Collier, the Athens woman whose mysterious disappearance and death back in September has captured national headlines, died from self-inflicted wounds.

The Habersham County Sheriff’s Office released its findings late Friday afternoon.

Police said investigators have met with the medical examiner’s office in regard to Collier’s autopsy results; executed 26 search warrants and subpoenas issued for social media posts, electronic communications, cellular data and banking records; and interviewed more than 20 family members and possible witnesses.

In a statement, police said Collier’s cause of death was the “was Inhalation of Superheated Gases, Thermal Injuries, and Hydrocodone Intoxication” and that her death was intentional.

RELATED: Deborrah Collier’s disappearance and death: A timeline

Earlier this month, Collier’s daughter, Amanda Bearden, said her mother had begun “giving me all of her things” and “had taken the whole week off” before she disappeared. Bearden made the comments while appearing during a YouTube live stream of the “Crime on the Record” podcast, and said she believes her mother killed herself.

Collier was first reported missing around 6 p.m. on Sept. 10, 2022, by her husband, Steven Collier. Hours earlier, Collier sent $2,385 to Bearden on Venmo with a message:

Message Collier's daughter told police she received from her mother.
Message Collier's daughter told police she received from her mother.(WGCL)

Collier was last seen on a Sept. 10 surveillance video in a Clayton Family Dollar store, where she purchased a rain poncho, refillable torch lighter, a two-roll pack of paper towels, a 7.5x9.5 OBD Tarp, and a reusable tote bag. After leaving the Rabun County store at 3:09 p.m., she remained in her vehicle, apparently alone, for 10 minutes before leaving.

Collier’s body was found around 3 p.m. the next day after her rented black Chrysler Pacifica van was found at the entrance of an old logging road in Habersham County.

Habersham County investigators have released three 911 calls that reported Collier missing.

The first call reporting Collier missing came from her husband, Steven, around 6 p.m. on Sept. 10. The second call is from Bearden, who was calling police to offer some more information on her mother’s disappearance. The third came from Collier’s sister, Diane Shirley, who lives in Alabama.

ORIGINAL STORY: Missing Athens woman’s body found in northeast Georgia

Habersham County investigators initially said believed Collier’s death was a deliberate act and not random. But Jeffrey Bearden, Collier’s son, has since told Atlanta News First he has little confidence in the Habersham County Sheriff’s Office and is filing a formal complaint to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation over the local agency’s handling of the case.