Debbie Collier, a Georgia office worker, was discovered in a ravine 60 miles from her house with 80% of her body charred, according to an autopsy report.
The publicly released report from the George Bureau of Investigation (GBI) raises fresh concerns regarding Collier’s unexpected death, which was ultimately determined to be a suicide despite a lengthy homicide inquiry.
Collier, a loving mother of two grown children, went missing on September 10 after sending her daughter Amanda a scary Venmo payment for $2,385 with the message, “They are not going to let me go, love you.”
The next day, more than an hour north of her Athens, Georgia, home, she was discovered dead in a ravine in a forested area of rural Habersham County. Authorities launched a murder investigation right away, but it took months before anything came of it.
Collier’s death was attributed to “inhalation of overheated gases, thermal damage, and a hydrocodone intoxication,” according to the study. Due to a chronic back problem, Collier frequently took the painkiller hydrocodone as directed by a doctor. Did the hydrocodone have her hallucinating?
The report states that “no additional substantial injuries were identified,” adding that “autopsy examination indicated thermal injuries of the exterior body surface and of the traceal mucosa (windpipe), no deposited soot in the airway, and no significant rise of blood carboxyhemoglobin.
“These findings may be due to a sudden, intense ‘flash’ fire, as well as the outdoor environment of the fire,” the GBI wrote.
Officials noted that a melted gas can was found near the burn site, perhaps the source of the “flash fire,” but did not explain the other circumstances, including that Collier was naked when discovered and why she was slightly downhill from the fire, gripping the base of a small tree with her right hand.
Police also never explained Collier’s Venmo message to her daughter, which caught the attention of the nation when revealed, or why she stopped at a Family Dollar store and bought a poncho, a refillable torch lighter, paper towels, a tarpaulin and a tote bag on the day she disappeared.
A neighbor said in September that she heard a “commotion” coming from Collier’s home the night before she vanished and the family frequently engaged in “screaming and fighting.” Her daughter, Amanda, had only returned to town with her boyfriend, amateur MMA fighter Andrew Giegerich, a few days before her death.
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