The son of Georgian mother Debbie Collier, whose mysterious death has shaken the Athenian community, wants people to know that he is a “spirited and strong soul” and that he will not rest until those who ruthlessly took his life face justice.
But Jeffrey Bearden also demands “respect and privacy during the darkest and most terrifying time of my family” and wants the media to stop publishing “speculation”.
In an exclusive statement to The Daily Beast, Bearden said, “I am deeply hurt and disturbed by some of the reporting and information being shared regarding the investigation into my mother’s death. I call for all attention to the tragic story of my mother’s death to remain focused on assisting the police investigation.”
“It is inappropriate to approach myself or my family in their homes or on our personal social media accounts,” he added. “It is inappropriate to publish speculation about my family.”
“There is no place for a court of public opinion in pursuit of justice for my mother and this speculation continues to be traumatic and painful for my family during the most difficult time we are going through.”
Bearden, 33, said the loss of his mother is beyond words. “He’s been my longest-lasting source of love, support and encouragement,” she told The Daily Beast. “My mother is a very passionate and strong soul. He is a person who values kindness, empathy, and understanding throughout his life. She lives life recognizing beauty and grace in everything she sees and experiences around her.”
Police said Collier was reported missing on September 10 by her husband, Steve, and his 36-year-old daughter Amanda Bearden. The report comes hours after Bearden received Venmo’s payment of nearly $2,400 from his mother, who is a real estate office manager.
“They won’t let me go baby you have the house key in the blue flowerpot by the door,” wrote Venmo’s payment.
Less than 24 hours later, authorities found 59-year-old Collier — naked and badly burned — in a ravine about an hour from his home in Athens, Georgia.
A Habersham County Sheriff’s Office incident report obtained by The Daily Beast said Collier was found “lying on his back, holding a small tree in his right hand.” The mother’s body was found near a burning tarp, and a red tote bag. A rental SUV that he used after crashing his car was also found near the scene.
Details of Collier’s cause of death are still pending, although authorities are treating the case as homicide. “At this time, there is no evidence to suggest or support that this incident was related to a kidnapping or that this was a suicide,” the Habersham County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement Wednesday evening.
On Friday, New York Post reported that Amanda’s boyfriend allegedly threatened to harm his entire family in a disturbing handwritten note last year. Andrew Giegerich, a former amateur MMA fighter, warned with a 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.
Meanwhile, Jeffrey Bearden holds precious memories of his mother. “She enjoys many aspects of life and knows that everyday life is filled with joy and beauty,” she told The Daily Beast. “He spends his time enjoying and making art. He values listening, dancing and singing along to his favorite music.
“My mother spends her vacation time, because the focus remains on family and the value of togetherness in home cooking. Every year, he will shower his family with thoughtful gifts as a gesture to remind you of his constant presence and awareness of your life and your value to him.
“Most importantly, he has always loved, cared and respected his family. My mother was persistent in her love all my life and I will endure until she is given the justice she deserves. Our lives have changed irrevocably. Our sorrow is here and our pain is deep.”