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Vigil Set for Beheaded Man, Kidnapped Wife

A retired owner of fast food restaurants was beheaded at his home in Putnam County -- and his head taken from the crime scene -- while his elderly wife is thought to have been kidnapped.

Russell Dermond of Putnam County was reportedly beheaded in an attack a week ago at his house. Credit: WSB TV screenshot
Russell Dermond of Putnam County was reportedly beheaded in an attack a week ago at his house. Credit: WSB TV screenshot
The hunt for Russell Dermond's killers -- and the abductors of his wife, Shirley -- continued with a search of Lake Oconee and interviews with neighbors Friday, but nothing yielded results in the grisly murder investigation.

Authorities say Russell Dermond, 88, the retired owner of fast food restaurants, was murdered on May 2 or 3 and his wife kidnapped. The attackers, who didn't use force to enter the couple's lakeside home, beheaded Dermond and the head was not found at the crime scene.

There will be a vigil for the couple at Lake Oconee Village Pond at 8:15 p.m. Saturday, reports WSB TV.

The Department of Natural Resources used side scan sonar Friday to search the bottom of the lake and found no sign of either victim. 

Residents told WSB the Dermonds were good people who moved to the home about 12 years ago after retiring. They retired after owning a chain of fast food restaurants.

The couple's pastor, Rev. David Key, said the Dermonds were friendly and had no enemies that he knew of.

He said the couple's children are dealing with their father's final arrangements as they wait for information about their mother.

"(They're) holding out and just really trying to put energy on finding their mother, not knowing her situation," Key said.

Investigators believe someone killed him and abducted his wife late on May 2 or early May 3.

Neighbors became concerned when the couple didn't show up at a Kentucky Derby party Saturday. Russell Dermond's body was found Tuesday.

Shirley Dermond is believed to have been kidnapped. Investigators are finding it hard to track her because her wallet, cellphone, purse and car were all left behind, the sheriff said.

Patch's earlier story:

Police: Husband Beheaded, Wife May Have Been Kidnapped

Investigators in a central Georgia county have asked the FBI to join in the search for a missing 87-year-old woman they believe was kidnapped after her husband was beheaded in their home on Lake Oconee.

According to WSB-TV, friends of Russell and Shirley Dermond went to the couple's home Tuesday morning and discovered what they believed to be the body of the 88-year-old man. Russell Dermond's head was not found at the Reynolds Plantation crime scene, the station reports.

Putnam County detectives said Shirley Dermond was not at home at the time her husband's body was found, and they suspect she may have been abducted from the home. 

The FBI has been asked to assist Putnam County authorities in the search for Shirley Dermond, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.

Authorities say it's possible that someone the couple knew may have committed the crime because there were no signs of forced entry and nothing was taken from the home.

It's also likely the killers entered the home from the lake, because the community is gated with security guards at the entrance.

Surveillance cameras in the community were not working, Putnam County Sheriff Howard Sills told The Macon Telegraph.

At a press conference Thursday, Sills says after this week's brutal murder everyone should lock their doors.

"The only one who's not a suspect is me because I know where I was," Sills said in the press conference covered by WMAZ TV.

Sills says police have examined the backgrounds of family members and everyone who may have had contact with the couple over the last week, even the mail carrier. The Dermonds had no major health issues, no sign of any mental illness, and had been expected to go to a Kentucky Derby party over the weekend.

When they didn't show friends gave it a couple of days and on Tuesday morning at 10 a.m. they went to the house and discovered Russell Dermond's body in the garage, WMAZ reports. He had been moved a few feet and his head had been removed. Shirley Dermond was nowhere to be found.

"I'm not optimistic given the fact of her husband's circumstances, holding out hope for the family," Sills said. "We still approach this as if she's been abducted and we pray that she is alive but we don't know anything about where Ms. Dermond is."

Investigators are finding it hard to track Shirley Dermond because her wallet, cellphone, purse and car were all left behind, the sheriff said.

The killing happened between Friday and Sunday. 

The couple has New Jersey roots and moved to Putnam County about 10 years ago, the sheriff told The Telegraph in Macon. Russell Dermond, AJC.com reported, owned several fast food restaurants before retiring.

Sills says a search of the lake, a search of the grounds, the woods with cadaver dogs, and knocking on neighbors' doors has turned up nothing. The last phone contact with the couple was on Thursday and they have no leads.

The sheriff told WMAZ that the couple had been happily married for 68 years, there has been no issues of any kind of domestic problems according to the people they have interviewed. 

Shirley Dermond stands at 5 feet, 2 inches tall, weighs 148 pounds and has grey hair and blue eyes. 

Anyone with information is asked to call the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office at 706-485-8557. 
SUNKEN SUB May 11, 2014 at 06:14 PM
* UP SCOPE ================================================ "Surveillance cameras in the community were NOT working," ================================================ That's one cat that should have stayed in the bag, guys. ================================================ Down Scope

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