Florida Detectives Help in Georgia Beheading Case

Courtesy CBS Atlanta
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News Release: Associated Press
August 7, 2014

EATONTON, Ga. (AP) -- A Georgia sheriff has asked Florida detectives to take a look at evidence in the killing of a couple that included a beheading, but the motive for the crime remains a mystery.

In early May, friends found the headless body of 88-year-old Russell Dermond in the garage of his home on Lake Oconee. Authorities initially feared that his wife, 87-year-old Shirley Dermond, had been abducted until her body was found a few weeks later in the central Georgia lake.

Their son Keith Dermond, who lives in north Florida, tells The Telegraph newspaper that his family is still sorting through his parents' belongings and the process has been "really tough."

Putnam County Sheriff Howard Sills recently asked for help from two detectives from a cold case unit in the Jacksonville, Florida, area.

Associated Press News Release
May 9, 2014

ATLANTA (AP) -- Authorities say an autopsy showed an 88-year-old man was already dead when his head was cut off.

Putnam County Deputy Coroner Marcus Turner says authorities believe Russell Dermond died of a head or brain injury. Friends found his body Tuesday at his Lake Oconee home.

Investigators fear Dermond's 87-year-old wife, Shirley Dermond, was abducted. They are searching for her with the help of the FBI.

Sheriff Howard Sills said during a news conference yesterday that the woman's purse, cellphone and the couple's car were still at the house in the gated community.

Sills says the home showed no signs of a struggle or forced entry and no ransom note was left behind. He does not believe the killing was random.

Associated Press News Release
May 8, 2014

EATONTON, Ga. (AP) - A central Georgia sheriff has requested help from the FBI as authorities investigate what the coroner calls the beheading of a man and the search for his wife, whom they fear was abducted.

Putnam County authorities say friends found the body of 88-year-old Russell Dermond on Tuesday at the couple's home on Lake Oconee. His wife, 87-year-old Shirley Dermond, is missing.

County coroner Gary McElhenney told WMAZ-TV in Macon that the man had been decapitated. Police believe the attack happened sometime between Friday and Sunday.

Putnam County Sheriff Howard Sills tells WSB-TV that he doesn't believe the attack was random, partly because there was no evidence of forced entry or a struggle. Sills said Shirley Dermond's wallet, cellphone, purse and car were all left behind.