Russell Dermond was found dead, decapitated in his $1 million home in a gated community in Eatonton, Georgia on Tuesday May 6. The 88-year-old’s wife, Shirley Dermond, is missing. She is not considered a suspect in the heinous crime. Cops now think that she may have been abducted. The couple were married for 68 years.
Here’s what you need to know about this baffling crime.
1. She May Have Been Kidnapped
— Richard Elliot (@RElliotWSB) May 8, 2014
Dermond is not considered a suspect because most of her belongings were found in the couple’s home. There is a desperate search on for Shirley. Putnam County Sheriff Howard Sills told the media:
We need to assume, or at least pray, that Mrs. Dermond is still alive, and we desperately need to know her whereabouts.
A friend of Shirley’s told The Macon Telegraph:
I tremble. My hands are shaking over this. … This is obviously the work of people who are far from normal. … You don’t know who might be next.
2. Cops Don’t Know When Russell Dermond Was Beheaded
Police still aren’t certain when Russell Dermond was killed. The belief is that it was sometime between May 2 and 6. Cops are trying to narrow down the couple’s activities around this time. Friends first noticed the Dermonds were missing when they didn’t show up for a Kentucky Derby viewing party that they had said they would attend. The last confirmed sighting of Russell was on Thursday May 1 when he was seen at a Publix pharmacy close to his home. Though someone reported seeing walking near his house on Friday May 2.
Sheriff Sills is hoping that forensic evidence might help the case move forward. There is no certainty that the garage, where Russell’s dead body was found is the murder scene. Sheriff Sills says “I want the doctor to tell me if even the death occurred there. There’s no evidence of a bullet hole in the wall or anything.” Russell had to be identified from the fingerprints on his Navy enlistment form from World War II.
Contrary to earlier reports, police do not believe that Russell Dermond was tortured prior to his death. His finger was slightly deformed but from an earlier injury, his relatives confirmed.
3. There is No Crime in the Couple’s Neighborhood
Sheriff Sills has called the murder “very unusual” and “frustrating.” In a press conference he said:
I don’t think it’s a random incident. I think for whatever reason these people were singled out for this. They live in the most exclusive neighborhood, or one of the most exclusive neighborhoods, in this county. … They’re on a cul-de-sac in a gated, multimillion dollar resort community that we have no crime in.
Sills added that he didn’t think there had ever been a burglary in the neighborhood, Great Waters, in his 18 years as Putnam sheriff. There hasn’t been a ransom demand for Shirley, nor was anything missing from the home, reports Macon.com. There was no sign of forced entry either.
The Dermonds live at 147 Carolyn Drive close to Lake Oconee. The house is valued $2.3 million and is listed for sale since January 2014. The couple bought the house in 1994.
4. There Were Untrue Rumors That Shirley Was Also Found Decapitated
Russell Dermond’s body was discovered by friends who were concerned when they hadn’t heard from the couple in days, according to The Macon Telegraph. After discovering the horrible scene in the Dermond’s garage, police were called. A nearby lake was searched with cops only finding a Christmas tree and a lawn chair. There were untrue rumors spread through the local media that body parts had been found in a wooded area close to their home. Sheriff’s deputies were using cadaver dogs to search the area. The FBI are also providing support from the Atlanta office. Due to the gruesome nature of the murder, police are looking into whether there is a link to organized crime.
5. The Dermonds Are Fast Food Millionaires
The Dermond’s are originally from New Jersey. They made their money through stakes in Wendy’s and Chick-Fil-A restaurants. Together, they had three children and a number of grandkids. This isn’t the first tragedy to affect the family, in 2000, the couple’s son, Mark, was shot-and-killed while buying crack in downtown Atlanta on his 47th birthday. His killer is still in prison, reports Macon.com.
The Rev. David Key of Lake Oconee Community Church told CNN that the Dermond’s were part of his congregation. He called the couple, “beloved in the community” and “sweet as can be.” Another friend told The Macon Telegraph:
You couldn’t say anything bad about the Dermonds. Everybody would always say how sweet they were.