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Updated: 4:45 p.m. Thursday, May 8, 2014 | Posted: 7:18 a.m. Wednesday, May 7, 2014

 Police baffled by Lake Oconee man’s death, missing wife

By Christian BooneMarcus K. Garner and Alexis Stevens

The death of Russell Dermond and the disappearance of his wife Shirley has baffled Putnam County investigators.

“I’ve worked a lot of murders and this is the strangest one I’ve ever worked,” said Sheriff Howard Sills. “We’re still trying to narrow down the window between Friday and Sunday. I’m leaning more toward Friday or Saturday.”

Friends went to the Great Waters home of Russell and Shirley Dermond on Tuesday morning and found Russell Dermond dead, his head missing, Sills said Wednesday. The gated subdivision is part of Reynolds Plantation, the Lake Oconee resort community.

Russell Dermond’s head was not located at the crime scene and Shirley Dermond was nowhere to be found, Sills said.

“I do not believe this to be a random attack and I base that on several things,” Sills said. “No evidence of forced entry or struggle or things like that.”

A weapon was not located, but the couple’s cellphones, Shirley Dermond’s purse and other valuables were found in the home, making it difficult to track her whereabouts, police said.

The community has security guards at its gates. But police said the Dermonds’ home is on the water and is accessible by boat.

“This is a huge lake,” Sills said. “It spans four counties and entry could’ve been made by the lake.”

Surveillance cameras in the community were not working, he said, and police are seeking any surveillance images from any nearby cameras.

Crews have searched part of the lake with sonar devices, Sills said. However, they have not found anything.

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

Anyone with information about her whereabouts is asked to call the sheriff’s office at 706-485-8557.

— Please return to AJC.com for updates.

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