Putnam County Sheriff Howard Sills is meeting with FBI agents as they try to figure out their next move in the search for a missing Eatonton woman and the severed head of her husband.
Neighbors found 88-year-old Russell Dermond’s body Tuesday morning in the garage of his Reynolds Plantation home. Dermond’s 87-year-old wife, Shirley, is missing without a trace, her purse, car keys and cell phone left behind at the murder scene.
Sills said an autopsy performed on Russell Dermond concluded he died from cranial cerebral trauma. But the sheriff said he believes Dermond was killed prior to the decapitation. Absent the head, officials still don’t know whether he was clubbed, shot or stabbed.
The slaying and subsequent abduction likely happened between Friday morning and Saturday afternoon. A crossword puzzle from Friday’s newspaper had been worked on and the couple had not retrieved their mail the following day.
At a press conference Thursday, Sills acknowledged deputies had no leads and little to work with.
“Quite candidly, this is the most baffling case we’ve ever worked,” said the veteran lawman.
He said the Dermonds, married 68 years, had no known enemies and no questionable financial dealings. There was no sign of forced entry into their million-dollar home that overlooks Lake Oconee. And nothing of value was stolen from the residence.
Dermond, who once owned several fast-food chains, was last seen Thursday at a nearby drug store. He retired about 20 years ago, when the couple moved from Atlanta to Lake Oconee, Sills said.