Son of Slain Georgia Woman Vows to Get Justice

Erin O'Flynn/The Daily Beast/Getty and Facebook
Erin O'Flynn/The Daily Beast/Getty and Facebook

The son of Georgia mom Debbie Collier, whose mysterious death has shaken the Athens community, wants people to know she was a “vibrant and strong soul” and that he won’t rest until those who cruelly took her life face justice.

But Jeffrey Bearden also is demanding “respect and privacy during the darkest and most harrowing time for my family” and wants the media to stop publishing “speculation.”

In an exclusive statement to The Daily Beast, Bearden said, “I have been incredibly hurt and disturbed by some of the reporting and information shared regarding the investigation into my mother’s death. I ask that all attention on the tragic story of my mother’s death remain focused on aiding the police investigation.”

“It is not appropriate to approach myself or my family at their homes or on our personal social media accounts,” he added. “It is not appropriate to publish speculation about my family.”

“There is no place for the court of public opinion in the pursuit of justice for my mother and this speculation continues to be traumatic and hurtful for my family during the most difficult time we have experienced.”

Bearden, 33, said the loss of his mother can’t be put into words. “She was my longest source of love, support, and encouragement,” he told The Daily Beast. “My mother was a very vibrant and strong soul. 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.”

Cops Rule Out Key Theories in Case of Georgia Mom Found Dead After Eerie Message

Police say Collier was reported missing on Sept. 10 by her husband, Steve, and 36-year-old daughter Amanda Bearden. The report came a few hours after Bearden received a Venmo payment of nearly $2,400 from her mother, who was a real estate office manager.

“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,” the Venmo payment read.

Less than 24 hours later, authorities found the 59-year-old Collier—nude and severely burned—in a ravine about an hour from her Athens, Georgia home.

A Habersham County Sheriff’s Office incident report obtained by The Daily Beast says that Collier was found “laying on her back, grasping a small tree with her right hand.” The mother’s remains were found near a burned tarp, and red tote bag. A rented SUV she had been using after crashing her car was also found near the scene.

Details of Collier’s cause of death are still pending, though authorities are treating the case as a homicide. “At this time, there is no evidence to suggest or support that this incident was related to kidnapping or that this is a suicide,” the Habersham County Sheriff's Office said in a Wednesday night statement.

On Friday, the New York Post reported that Amanda’s boyfriend allegedly threatened to harm her entire family in a disturbing handwritten note last year. Andrew Giegerich, a former amateur MMA fighter, warned in green marker: “If you or your family ever come near me again I will hurt them.”

Amanda Bearden and Steve Collier could not be reached for comment.

In the meantime, Jeffrey Bearden is holding onto precious memories of his mom. “She enjoyed many aspects of life and knew that daily life was filled with joy and beauty,” he told The Daily Beast. “She spent her time enjoying and making art. She valued listening to, dancing, and singing along with her favorite music.

“My mother consumed herself with the holidays, as her focus remained on family and the value of being together over a home cooked meal. Each year, she would shower her family with thoughtful gifts as gestures to remind you of her constant presence and awareness of your life and your value to her.

“Most importantly, she always loved, cared, and respected her family. My mother was persistent in her love throughout my entire life and I will persist until she is given the justice she deserves. Our lives have been irrevocably changed. Our grief is here and our pain is deep.”

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