Dermond killer wasn’t local, Putnam residents believe

Putnam residents don’t think Dermond killer was local

wcrenshaw@macon.comMay 10, 2014 

EATONTON -- When an especially heinous crime happens in a small community and no one has been arrested, it might be expected that residents would be a little on edge.

But people interviewed in downtown Eatonton on Saturday didn’t seem concerned that a crazed killer could be living among them.

Sheriff’s deputies found the headless body of Russell Dermond, 88, in his garage Tuesday. His wife, Shirley Dermond, 87, remains missing.

The circumstances could hardly be more puzzling, but residents interviewed seemed to be sure of one thing about the killer.

“Nobody from around here did that,” said Thedora Howard as she got a manicure. “It was just so brutal. Somebody came into this county and polluted it.”

Tammy Walker, who owns Deja Vu Consignment Boutique, said many people have been talking about it. She is hopeful someone will be arrested and is confident Sheriff Howard Sills will make an arrest.

“We’ve got the best sheriff ever,” she said. “If it takes him 40 years, he will solve it.”

At the sheriff’s department Saturday, a deputy said Sills was out working on the case. The deputy said there was nothing new to report, and that there were still no signs of Shirley Dermond or her husband’s missing head.

Residents also seemed convinced the crime was not a random act.

The Dermonds lived in a gated community on Lake Oconee. Their keys, cars and Shirley Dermond’s purse were at the house. Nothing at the scene suggested robbery as the motive.

Dennis Stevenson used to work security in the Dermonds’ neighborhood. He said he believes the killer or killers most likely approached the house by boat, but he also said it’s not out of the question they could have just driven through the guarded entrance.

“All you’ve got to do is have that sticker on the front and when they see that sticker they just wave you through,” he said as a he sat on a bench downtown.

He believes it was a mafia hit, although he did not have specific knowledge as to why that would be, except for the nature of the crime.

“Somebody had that planned,” he said.

John Pineo, who lives in Greene County and works at Edwards Produce stand in Eatonton, said he hadn’t heard a lot of customers talking about the slaying.

“I just hope they find the people who did it and put them up the creek,” he said. “I don’t know how anybody can go in someone’s house and do what they did and kidnap their wife.”

Sills told The Associated Press that sometime this weekend, he hopes to have electronic billboards across Georgia displaying a photo of Shirley Dermond. He fears she has been abducted and is hoping she is still alive.

The couple had been married for 68 years and was retired from the fast-food business.

To contact writer Wayne Crenshaw, call 256-9725.

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