Weekend leads fruitless in Putnam slaying, disappearance

lfabian@macon.comMay 12, 2014 

Shirley Dermond

Putnam County investigators are still hunting leads to help them solve the killing of Russell Dermond and the disappearance of his wife, Shirley.

“There’s nothing,” Sheriff Howard Sills said early Monday.

Investigators had hoped that with increased traffic on Lake Oconee over the weekend that a major clue would turn up or that someone would find a trace of the 87-year-old woman who vanished from the couple’s waterfront home.

Sills spent more than three hours with an FBI behavior specialist examining the probable personality of someone who would kill an 88-year-old man, remove his head and leave the body in the victim’s garage.

Authorities are looking at all possibilities, including a theory that the couple was abducted and his body returned to the house after the killing.

Sills and his investigators have yet to uncover a possible motive for Russell Dermond’s killing and likely abduction of Shirley Dermond.

Her purse, keys and cell phone were still at the house when neighbors found her husband’s headless body May 6.

Nothing in the home appeared to be missing, and there has been no activity on their bank accounts, Sills said.

Crime scene technicians have been combing the couple’s $1 million house, which the sheriff describes as immaculately clean but not opulent.

“We’re still dusting for fingerprints and canvassing the neighborhood,” Sills said.

Many of the Dermonds’ Reynolds Plantation neighbors are not full-time residents, so investigators are still questioning some of them who just returned home to the gated community, Sills said.

There are no immediate plans for a full-scale search of the area, he said, but extra patrols were on the lake last weekend.

Sills spent hours tracking down a new report that the couple had gone to dinner with friends May 2, but the dinner date turned out to be the Friday before -- a week before the Dermonds disappeared.

The preliminary investigation indicates something happened to the Dermonds sometime between May 2 and May 3.

A picture of Shirley Dermond has been distributed to billboard companies in Georgia.

“I have been told it’s on most of the electronic billboards in the state,” Sills said.

Shirley Dermond is about 5-feet-2 and weighs about 148 pounds. She has gray hair and blue eyes.

Anyone with information is urged to call the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office at 706-485-8557.

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