Decapitation mystery | Slain couple’s neighbors questioned

Neighbors of a slain Eatonton couple attending a community meeting over the weekend thought they’d be the ones asking the questions.

They didn’t know they’d be on the receiving end of a questionnaire prepared by the FBI’s behavioral science unit. More than 50 investigators, including nearly two dozen federal agents, were on hand for Saturday’s meeting.

“We weren’t questioning people as suspects,” Sheriff Howard Sills said Monday, “but we might develop one out of it.”

Investigators quizzed more than 200 of Russell and Shirley Dermond’s neighbors in the Great Waters community about their security cameras and maintenance workers, among other things. Sills said everyone complied, save for a few people with prior engagements. Further interviews are possible, he said.

Two fishermen recovered the body of 87-year-old Shirley Dermond — missing for two weeks — Friday afternoon near Wallace Dam in Lake Oconee. She had been dumped in one of the deepest parts of the lake but was discovered hung up in the tree line. Her 88-year-old husband’s decapitated body was found May 6 in the garage of the couple’s home, located about 80 miles southeast of Atlanta.

Investigators had hoped to locate Russell Dermond’s head near where his wife’s body had been discarded. But Department of Natural Resources rangers canvassing the area over the weekend turned up nothing and have suspended the search pending new leads.

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