The home where Russell and Shirley Dermond lived in the Great Waters subdivision in Eatonton, Ga., on Lake Oconee about 80 miles southeast of Atlanta. Russell Dermond was found beheaded in the garage in May of 2014. His head has never been found. Shirley Dermond’s body was found in the lake  10 days later. The case remains unsolved.
Photo: Christian Boone/Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Photo: Christian Boone/Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Beheading of 88-year-old man, killing of wife remain unsolved, haunts Georgia sheriff  

On Reddit, where there are typically 10 conspiracy theories floated for every fact, only questions surface in a discussion group devoted to the grisly murders of Russell and Shirley Dermond, the elderly Eatonton couple found dead more than three years ago.

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For every theory, there’s a contradiction that debunks it. The lead investigator in the case, longtime Putnam County Sheriff Howard Sills, admits the trail for the killers — he’s confident at least two people were involved — has run cold.

“We’ve eliminated many, many, many things,” said Sills, a gruff, plain-talking lawman entering his third decade as Putnam sheriff. “But as far as a suspect, we’re probably as far away as we were 3 1/2 years ago.”

Recently, Sills agreed to open up the case file to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, sharing autopsy photos, pieces of evidence and his personal reflections on why this has been “the absolute most confounding thing I’ve ever dealt with in my entire career.”

‘They had no enemies’

The call came in on Tuesday, May 6, 2014, from inside Reynolds Plantation, a gated community located on Lake Oconee, about 80 miles southeast of Atlanta.

>> Related: Eatonton couple ‘the unlikeliest of victims’ 

Neighbors of Russell and Shirley Dermond had gone to their home inside the Great Waters subdivision out of concern for their well-being. The couple, married for 62 years, hadn’t shown up at a Kentucky Derby party three days earlier. Phone calls went unanswered.

As their friends entered through the screened porch where Russell Dermond, 88, would watch the Braves on TV nothing seemed amiss. Shirley Dermond, 87, kept a meticulous home. Nothing was out of place. There was no sign of a struggle, let alone a homicide.

Then, inside the garage of the 3,200-square-foot home, one of the neighbors found Russell Dermond’s body, slumped behind one of the couple’s cars. Upon closer inspection, they discovered something beyond macabre — a detail that would escalate this case into the national spotlight.

>> Related: Evidence elusive in murder investigation

Dermond’s head was missing, and so was his wife.

Beheadings are rare. Rarer still was the fact the head was nowhere to be found.

Read more here.

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