Debbie Collier’s son casts doubt on surveillance video captured before her mystery death

Collier’s son Jeffrey Bearden alleged the person shown in the surveillance video at the Family Dollar may not be his mother

Andrea Blanco
Thursday 03 November 2022 17:40 GMT
FBI now assisting in solving woman’s murder

The son of Debbie Collier has cast doubt on surveillance video purportedly recorded just hours before her mysterious death.

Collier’s partially burned remains were found on 11 September in a wooded area on the side of a state road in Clarkesville, Georgia, nearly 60 miles from her home in Clayton. The 59-year-old woman had been reported missing the day before by her daughter and husband, who last saw her at the family residence.

Following the discovery of her body, authorities released surveillance video of Collier entering a Family Dollar store at 2.55pm on 10 September. She was wearing a red shirt and purchased a rain poncho, a two-roll pack of paper towels, a refillable torch lighter, an OBD Trap and a reusable tote bag — some of the items later found next to her body.

On Wednesday, Collier’s son Jeffrey Bearden told local news station Alive11 that he is suspicious of acquaintances of her sister, who had moved in with their mother two days before her death. On the day before she died, Collier sent a $2,385 Venmo transfer to her daughter with the note, “They are not going to let me go love you ...”

“I do not think my sister has the capacity to hurt my mom. She was my mom’s lifeline,” Ms Bearden told the outlet. “But, I don’t trust the people that my sister hangs out with, and that’s my concern.”

Mr Bearden also alleged that the Habersham County Sheriff has dismissed his concerns that the person shown in the surveillance video at the Family Dollar may not be his mother.

“I have concerns about the appearance of the person in that Family Dollar,” he said. “I have a lot of concerns about if that was my mom in that actual video because that doesn’t actually appear of like her posture.”

Jeffrey Bearden and his mother, Debbie Collier
Jeffrey Bearden and his mother, Debbie Collier (Jeffrey Bearden/Facebook )

The grieving son also claimed that it would have been bizarre for his mother to purchase those items and that to his knowledge, she had never transferred large amounts of money through Venmo.

“I don’t know why my mom was up there,” Mr Bearden told Alive11. “It doesn’t make sense to me why she was in Clayton. Especially that there is a Dollar General that she frequently visited that was less than a mile from her home [in Athens].”

He continued: “I’ve never known her to be a camper. I mean, we have tarps at the house. My stepdad works in construction. I found about 20 to 30 reusable bags at my house. She was very green, she had a bunch of those.”

“I’ve never seen my mom Venmo that large amount of money, so no, that’s very out of characteristic for her.”

Authorities said Collier was killed sometime between 3.19pm on 10 September, when she left the parking lot of the Family Dollar, and 12.44pm the following day, when her body was found by deputies who saw her car on the side of a road.

Surveillance video of Debbie Collier at a Family Dollar
Surveillance video of Debbie Collier at a Family Dollar (Surveillance video)

Investigators initially told The Daily Beast that the incident was believed to be drug-related, but later began exploring the possibility that she died by suicide or in an accident.

In a Facebook post in late October, Mr Bearden said that he had been kept in the shadows during the investigation.

“I have been patiently waiting on my hands for weeks now for any type of information to understand what happened to my mother. My family and I have been forced to navigate moments we could have never expected. To say it’s been surreal is an understatement,” he wrote.

In a Saturday statement, Mr Bearden called for Habersham County Sheriff Joey Terrell’s resignation. He also demanded an apology from the sheriff, saying that he “had demonstrated a distinct lack of empathy” that made him unsettled about the ongoing investigation.

Mr Bearden claimed that he had filed complaints with the GBI and the FBI, the agencies assisting in the case.

Deborah Collier’s body was found in a wooded area on 11 September
Deborah Collier’s body was found in a wooded area on 11 September (Debbie Collier/Facebook )

“My family deserves better,” Mr Bearden said in the video. “I am coming to you as a son who desperately wants justice and needs answers.”

Law enforcement first said that Collier’s death was “personal and targeted” murder and “not a random act of violence”.

The sheriff’s office said that Collier’s daughter, who first raised the alarm about her mother being missing, had recently moved in with her. Collier’s husband also made a call to 911 saying that he had not seen her since the night before.

She was also reported missing by her sister, Diane Shirley, who mentioned that Collier had been involved in a car incident in August when a can of paint fell from a moving vehicle and struck Collier’s car, Fox News reported.

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