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Gruesome slaying of Georgia couple unsolved after 5 years

May 6, 2019

EATONTON, Ga. (AP) — Still unsolved after five years, the gruesome slayings in a quiet, gated community still confound Putnam County Sheriff Howard Sills.

Friends called 911 on May 6, 2014, when they found the body of 88-year-old Russell Dermond in the garage of his home on Lake Oconee. His head was missing, and has never been found.

Investigators’ hopes that the victim’s wife, 87-year-old Shirley Dormand, had been kidnapped and remained alive were dashed days later when her body was pulled from the lake.

No arrests have been made in their deaths. Nor have any suspects been named.

Sills, a law-enforcement officer for more than four decades, calls the case “a yoke around my neck.” And he says he still ponders it almost daily.

“It’s an embarrassment to me really, if you want to know the truth about it,” the sheriff told The Macon Telegraph . ”...Whoever did this is still out there. And whoever did this will do anything.”

The Dermonds lived for about 15 years in the Reynolds Great Waters gated community, about 75 miles (120 kilometers) southeast of Atlanta. Russell Dermond was a retired clock manufacturing executive and fast-food franchisee.

Nothing was found missing from the couple’s home. An autopsy found Shirley Dermond died from two or three blows to the head. Gunpowder residue on her husband’s collar suggests he was shot. The sheriff says his head may have been removed to keep investigators from recovering the bullet.

Authorities interviewed the Dermonds’ three adult children and found nothing to suspect they were involved. One of their sons, Mark Dermond, was slain in a drug deal gone wrong in 2000. His killer remains in prison and investigators have never linked the son’s death to those of his parents.

The sheriff said he suspects the Dermonds were slain by two or more killers motivated by money. He said it’s possible the killers thought the couple had something of great value, and left empty-handed after realizing they were wrong.

Sills said his office continues to investigate every lead.

“Last week I got a call about the case. It was from a plausible guy,” the sheriff told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution . “Worked it for two days. Nothing.”

Yet he remains hopeful that a tip will eventually surface that allows investigators to crack the case.

“Somebody knows who did this,” Sills said. “They need to tell us.”

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Information from: The Telegraph, http://www.macontelegraph.com