More than three weeks after the brutal death of Georgia office manager Debbie Collier, investigators have still not publicly identified a suspect or person of interest in the case.
Detectives were still awaiting results from the state crime lab, the Habersham County Sheriff’s Office said during a Friday news briefing, and cracking the case could take some more time, Col. Murray Kogod, the public information officer, told reporters.
One potential lead from early 911 calls, which Fox News Digital was first to report last week, appears to be an exaggeration.
One caller, identifying herself as Collier’s sister, Diane Shirley, made an alarming mention of a prior encounter with an unidentified ex-con driving a truck involved in a car crash with the slain woman — a story that Shirley said she overheard from Collier’s daughter, Amanda Bearden, whose home police searched early in the investigation.
“From my niece, she said that [Collier] was in an accident about a month ago,” Shirley told a dispatcher.
Collier was driving behind a truck when a paint can fell off and struck her car, she says on the call.
“The paint went everywhere, and the driver was trying to convince my sister not to tell the cops that he was driving because he was out on parole,” Shirley says. “And there was a stipulation to his parole that he could not drive.”
A “metal item” fell off the roof of a 2009 GMC Savana van and slammed into the driver’s side front end of Collier’s 2020 Ford Ranger, causing an accident, according to the incident report. No one was injured.
Police cited Miguel Martinez, 48, for allegedly driving without a license and operating a vehicle without securing the load.
Although Martinez faced a slew of misdemeanors after allegedly pulling his ex’s hair while she was holding their child in early 2015, sending them both tumbling to the ground, he does not appear to be part of Georgia’s parole system. Most of the charges were dismissed in a plea deal in which he admitted to two counts of disorderly conduct.
He was sentenced to 12 months of probation and would have been off six years before his accident with Collier.
A search of Georgia records found no evidence that he had ever been found guilty of a felony, sent to prison or been paroled.
Collier had last been seen on Saturday, Sept. 10, after sending her daughter $2,385 over the Venmo app and a cryptic message reading, “They are not going to let me go love you there is a key to the house in the blue flowerpot by the door.”
The Venmo payment came at 3:17 p.m., eight minutes after Collier left a Family Dollar store in Clayton, about 90 minutes north of her home in Athens. Collier was seen on camera there carrying a purse and buying several items, which were found near her body. She paid with a card, the video shows.
Other documents obtained by Fox News Digital on Thursday reveal additional details about her last known movements.
Collier’s phone was turned off after 3:17 p.m. on Sept. 10 — the same time she sent the Venmo payment. The phone’s last ping came at that time, about 2.5 miles from a cell tower in Clayton.
The Habersham County Sheriff’s Office says her time of death occurred sometime in between leaving the store at 3:09 p.m. and when they discovered her remains the following day around 12:30 p.m.
Bearden also told police that she had her mom’s iCloud details and asked police on Sunday morning why they hadn’t been able to trace her mother’s GPS.
“Why hasn’t what I’ve asked been done?” she said. “Why isn’t the GPS in her van being traced? Do I need a private detective to do that?”
A couple of hours later, investigators successfully tracked Collier’s rental vehicle’s location with the help of its SiriusXM Radio. They found her remains a quarter-mile into the woods off Georgia Route 15 in Tallulah Falls — more than an hour’s drive from her home in Athens.
Anyone with information on Collier’s case is asked to contact Habersham Sheriff’s Investigators Cale Garrison or George Cason at 706-839-0559 or 706-839-0560, respectively. Police are also asking anyone with surveillance cameras between Tallulah Falls and Clayton to review their footage on Sept. 10 and Sept. 11 for signs of Collier, and that anyone who interacted with her on Sept. 9 or later to come forward.