Phone records released in Dermond slayings on Lake Oconee

Two months after a Putnam County couple was slain on Lake Oconee, investigators are forging a new front in the investigation.

Putnam County Sheriff Howard Sills said Russell and Shirley Dermond’s phone records have just been released to investigators.

Sills requested the records shortly after Russell Dermond’s decapitated body was found in his garage May 6. Shirley Dermond’s body was found in the lake May 16.

Both were killed by some sort of head injury, autopsies determined.

Now investigators are combing the phone logs in hopes of identifying a suspect in the killings.

Sills, who has spent nearly 40 years in law enforcement, said this has been the toughest homicide case of his career.

“The longest it ever took me was two weeks to figure out who did it and arrest who did it,” Sills said.

He and an investigator are concentrating all their efforts following leads, while other deputies also are juggling the case with their other duties.

On Tuesday, Sills called together a team of about 20 people for a briefing.

Representatives of the FBI, prosecutors, deputies from Jones and Putnam counties and a Gwinnett County analyst assisting in the case got together to evaluate actions already taken and to plan future moves.

“We have a lot of people who have been aggressively working the case,” the sheriff said.

The team scoured crime scene photographs to make sure nothing was missed in the early days of the investigation and to brainstorm the next steps.

Although the evidence pointed to the slayings happening around May 3, community interest runs high two months later.

“It’s still the talk of the community,” Sills said.

Although an anonymous tip came in Wednesday, the phones have stopped ringing from those spouting wild theories and psychic clues.

Sills said they eliminated several suspects early on and are focusing on pulling strings of newer information, such as the phone records, to see if they can help unravel the case.

The sheriff wants to stress that the combined reward for information leading to an arrest now stands at $55,000.

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

To contact writer Liz Fabian, call 744-4303.