PUTNAM COUNTY, Ga. - It’s a case that shocked and frightened people in Putnam County which echo far beyond the state. An elderly couple was murdered. The husband's body found with his head gone in the couple's garage. The wife’s body was pulled out of the lake with weights around her ankles. Three years later there are no motives or suspects.
Putnam County Sheriff Howard Sills said it a case that still haunts him. It is the only murder case the sheriff has not been able to solve in his career, but it may have been a late start in the investigation which gave a good lead for the murderer.
The first 48 hours are crucial in a homicide investigation. In this case, it was days later before anyone found out the couple was dead. Whoever killed Mr. Dermond actually put towels around his decapitated body to make sure the blood did not seep out of the garage.
"There's two people, maybe more and obviously someone somewhere knows something about this horrible crime," the sheriff said.
Sills said this is a case that he thinks about every day. He wonders who would want Russell and Shirley Dermond dead and why. The couple's home left few clues.
"Certainly, no evidence of a struggle, no evidence of forced entry, nothing like that was present at all," said Sills.
What deputies found in the home was Mr. Dermond in the garage, his head had been removed and taken from the scene and towels placed around to keep the blood contained.
"They did not want that body found. If someone pulled up from the house and blood had been running out they would have seen it," the sheriff said.
Mrs. Dermond was not found until 15 days later in the lake. She had two thirty pound concrete blocks tied to her. It was determined she died from blunt force trauma to the head.
"Whoever did that thought they were disposing her body in a manner where it would never be found. Which doesn't lend to a professional assassin," said Sills.
Sheriff Sills said a professional would know that would not work. He does not believe the perpetrator took the head as a trophy, but rather to get rid of any evidence.
"We can't find any criminal connection to these people. We can't find anything bad about these people. Obviously, if we had a motive we'd know perpetrators, but I know this: anybody who did this will do it again if they haven't done it before. And whoever knows about it, might happen to them at some point in time," the sheriff said.
The couple’s three children voluntarily took polygraphs and all have been cleared. The sheriff's office said they do not know if the couple was even killed in the home or if the killers gained access to the gated community by car or boat.
The sheriff is re-interviewing people in the case and continues to follow up on every lead.