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RUSSELL & SHIRLEY DERMOND: Murdered in Georgia - May 2014

Discussion in 'Crimes' started by noZme, May 5, 2015.

  1. Kimster

    Kimster Director Staff Member

    I know it! Until Jason brought it up again, I thought the case been solved, actually.
    spike and Cousin Dupree like this.
  2. spike

    spike Bronze Member

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  3. Kimster

    Kimster Director Staff Member

    I thought I saw where he was going to cover this case on his YouTube, but now I can't find it!
    Cousin Dupree and spike like this.
  4. noZme

    noZme Bronze Member

    There are no suspects. The Dermonds had no known enemies, although the sheriff has also said their deaths at least seem to be the handiwork of “a vicious enemy” — or at very least someone with such a capacity for savagery.

    The killings rattled Putnam County Sheriff Howard Sills. “Every anniversary since the first one has troubled me. And I woke up this morning like I wake up every morning. ... It’s the first thing I think about,” Sills recently told the Telegraph.

    He says he wishes there were something new to report. Leads have been plentiful, but none have panned out. The mystery, Sills said, “is a yoke around my neck.” He added: “It’s an embarrassment to me really, if you want to know the truth about it. ... We haven’t been able to gain any ground on this case after five years. ... Whoever did this is still out there. And whoever did this will do anything.”

    Here are some plausible, or perhaps not-so-plausible, theories of what might have happened to the Dermonds:

    Is it possible that someone motoring up Lake Oconee in a boat on the first Friday in May 2014 or the next day just happened to single out the Dermond home and, to satisfy some murderous urge, struck at random? Sure, anything is possible. But is it likely? No. In fact, it is probably the least-likely scenario in the Dermond case.

    Russ Dermond was last known to be alive on Friday, May 2. Investigators confirmed he had been at a nearby Publix grocery store that day. Now, might someone have knocked on the couple’s door and pushed his way in when someone greeted him? That, too, is possible. There was no sign of forced entry, and almost nothing in the house was out of place. In fact, the place was spotless.

    Though the Dermonds lived in a gated community with a guard shack at the entrance, a recent electrical storm had rendered surveillance cameras there useless. So someone in a car could have slipped in undetected. Because the couple lived on the lakefront with a dock, arrival by boat is just as probable. The lake provided “unlimited access by anyone,” Sills said.

    Yes, that rare person whose sole motive to kill was merely for the sake of killing might be responsible. Strangers in the night, though, are perhaps among the rarest attackers of all. And how often do they go so far as to decapitate a victim?

    Might the attacks be the work of a serial killer? Yes, but then where is the series, the pattern, the next one, the next kill? Investigators have considered other beheading-slayings and murders with remote similarities. So far, there are no apparent connections.

    A HEIST?
    Did someone think the Dermonds had money?

    Russ Dermond had been an executive for a clock manufacturer in the New York area. He later semi-retired to Atlanta where he oversaw a chain of Hardee’s franchises. He and his wife then moved to Great Waters around 2000. They were well off but not ostentatiously rich. Their net worth, including their home, was somewhere in the $1.5-million range.

    They didn’t collect art or, as far as anyone knows, keep stores of cash at their house. But someone might have thought they did. There’s a chance the crime could have been a burglary, that the Dermonds surprised someone who’d broken in. But the gruesome nature of their deaths seems overly personal for such a chance encounter.

    Maybe the killer or killers believed there was something of value, and upon confronting the Dermonds the assailant or assailants may have threatened the couple with extreme violence, possibly threatening to harm one or the other unless they forked over loot. But if there was no such bounty to be had, did the killer come for something that the Dermonds did not have?

    When asked about his best guess on a motive for the killing, Sills said, “I still think it was some sort of extortion, robbery of some sort that the Dermonds didn’t have or didn’t have access to something that somebody wanted. I still believe there’s more than one perpetrator involved. I still believe that Shirley Dermond wasn’t murdered here at (their) house. But most importantly, I still believe that somebody knows about this, and they need to tell us.”

    Murder victims tend to fall prey to people close to them or people they know. But that can also make for a near-infinite pool of suspects.

    Even so, stranger-on-stranger slayings are rare. The lengths taken to murder the Dermonds — an attempt to make Shirley’s body disappear in the lake, and to sever Russ’s yet-to-be-found head — may denote some degree of closeness, a deep anger. The aim could have been to make them both vanish, to dispose of the Dermonds in a rage fueled by revenge, an unknown grudge, a long-ago slight or a spur-of-the-moment feud.

    But such clashes are rarely secrets. It is possible, too, that there might have been some past business dealing that left someone despondent enough to resort to double homicide, or to collect on some unpaid personal debt or slight. The Dermonds have three living children — a fourth child, a son, their eldest, was killed while trying to buy drugs near downtown Atlanta in 2000. None of the couple’s kids or relatives is believed to be a suspect. Friends, neighbors and acquaintances have told of no known run-ins that might have precipitated such violence.

    A HIT?
    Who orders a hit on an octogenarian husband and wife? Shirley played bridge with a club in Eatonton. Russell was fond of strolls around his neighborhood golf course.

    Soon after their deaths, word from a few commenters on social media was that the slayings bore the trademark handiwork of a drug hit. The decapitation, so the speculation went, had all the earmarks of cartel vengeance. Investigators have all but ruled that out, however.

    I have considered the possibility that Russ’s decapitation, and the fact his head has never turned up, might have been taken as “proof of death” to show someone or provide irrefutable evidence that the deed was done. But that seems a bit too Hollywood. Besides, news of the killings spread nationwide in a matter of days. It is just as likely, if not more so, that the killer — as has occasionally happened in other decapitations — shot Dermond in the head and removed his head so that investigators would find no bullet, which might be traceable to a gun.

    The day Sills dragged Shirley’s body from the lake, a gaggle of reporters at a news conference peppered him with questions. I wrote of the exchange in my piece for Atlanta magazine. Sills was asked about the possibility of the slayings being the work of a hit man.

    “Would you consider this a professional job?” a reporter wondered. “A professional what job?” Sills replied. The reporter answered, “There doesn’t appear to be a lot of evidence for it to be an amateur.”

    Sills, perhaps thinking aloud, responded, “Is it a professional robbery? Nothing seems to be gone. Is it a professional burglary? Nothing seems to be gone . . . Uh, I don’t know any professional decapitators.” The reporter then suggested, “There are professional hit men.” To which Sills said, “The totality of this is just very different.”

    Might the murders have been a warning, a message, to someone close to the Dermonds? Could someone have been trying to scare someone the couple knew, or might the killer have been sending a message to force someone to do something, to pay up or else?

    There doesn’t seem to be any link to their eldest son, Mark, who was murdered in Atlanta in 2000. The couple was not all that close to him by then, investigators have said. Even so, Mark Dermond’s slaying was one of the first things investigators delved into after the killings.

    Mark Dermond’s killer, who had shot him during a drug buy not far from the Georgia Dome, is still in prison and has no known ties to Russ and Shirley.

    Whoever killed the Dermonds, Sills is all but certain the culprit is not local.

    “I’m not sure that they’re from Georgia,” Sills said recently. “But I’m pretty convinced they’re not from here. Or they’re some sort of true psychopath that leads a different life.”

    ima.grandma, spike and Cousin Dupree like this.
  5. noZme

    noZme Bronze Member

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  6. Cousin Dupree

    Cousin Dupree Platinum Member

    I can understand why the cops are having a problem with this. They need to bring in a fresh set of eyes from former law enforcement from elsewhere to take another look at the evidence.
    spike likes this.
  7. Kimster

    Kimster Director Staff Member

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  8. Lily

    Lily Bronze Member

    Couple of random thoughts, re-reading this:

    I wonder if Brad was worried enough to phone the neighbour who discovered the bodies... since he spoke to his parents 'most days', and then it's nearly a week where nobody's answering the phone day or night.

    Also, is it odd that Russell is described as a 'disciplinarian'? Who was he disciplining, anymore? It's just a weird word to use for someone whose kids are in their 50's. Or does that word have another meaning I'm not aware of?

    This case continues to baffle.

    I do think early in the morning they were threatened with a weapon to get them out of the house, where there's no sign of struggle. and into the garage, where there was a struggle.

    There's no robbery, no opportunism... and if the point was to murder, then why not just kill them in the house? Was the killer uncomfortable to do that, for some reason?

    And I've asked this before.. but it just bothers me: why go to immense trouble and risk to conceal Shirley's body, but to leave Russell's in place? If they were in a hurry, why not simply sink both bodies? Why take the time to remove Russell's head?

    Very few crimes I've read about defy any sense, the way the this one does. Fingers crossed as ever that there's a break, a clue, something that'll turn up one day and provide the answers.
  9. SheWhoMustNotBeNamed

    SheWhoMustNotBeNamed Administrator Staff Member

    Who killed Russell & Shirley Dermond? New look at the case 5 years later

    It's been five years and still no answers or arrests in the chilling murder mystery that left the Lake Oconee community shaken.

    Who killed Russell and Shirley Dermond? That's what the Putnam County Sheriff's Office is still trying to find out.

    Sheriff Howard Sills said the case still haunts him and he's certain someone knows what happened.

    ima.grandma, Kimster, spike and 2 others like this.
  10. ima.grandma

    ima.grandma Believer of Miracles

    The murders of Russell Dermond, 88, and his wife, Shirley, 87, have never been solved. Every resident in the exclusive, gated community where they lived has been interviewed. Every gardener, handyman and day laborer was checked out.

    The couple's three grown children submitted to polygraphs and passed. The mystery that constitutes their killings has nearly driven Putnam County Sheriff Howard Sills mad. He's never before had a homicide case he couldn't solve.

    This is how the gruesome, heartbreaking murders of a genteel and well-liked retired couple unfolded.

    May 2, 2014 Russell Dermond was seen walking the golf course near his home. It appears to be the last time he was seen publicly. A few days before, Shirley Dermond had played her regular, weekly bridge game.

    May 3

    The couple had accepted an invitation from their neighbors to attend a Kentucky Derby party in the pristine, wooded subdivision where they lived on the banks of Lake Oconee in Georgia. But the Dermonds never showed up.

    May 6

    After calling the couple for two days and getting no answer, the friends who hosted the Derby gathering came to the Dermonds' four-bedroom, well-appointed home and found the back door unlocked. The husband and wife called out to the Dermonds and walked into every room in the 4,255-square-foot estate. Nothing was out of place.

    The garage was another matter. Behind the couple's Lexus SUV and their Lincoln Town Car, was Russell's body. His head was missing. Towels had been placed around the corpse to keep blood from draining under the garage door and onto the driveway. Shirley was nowhere to be found.

    The FBI was brought in. A reward was offered. Over the following week, Sills brought in cadaver dogs. He had divers drag the lake area behind the Dermonds' property. No trace of Shirley was found.

    For the next 10 days, Sheriff Sills held press conferences and questioned the couple's three grown children and their neighbors.

    He thought many things. Did Mrs. Dermond have something to do with what happened to her husband? Had she been kidnapped? Had she just run off? But her purse, her cellphone and her car keys were all inside her home.

    One of the couple's sons, Keith, told a reporter on May 14, "Each hour that goes by, my brother, my sister and me are becoming more resigned to the fact that we may never see her again and we may never know what happened.

    "If she is still alive, we can't imagine what she is going through. The human spirit is incredibly strong, but it has almost got to the stage where we hope she is with out father, just to ease her suffering."

    May 16

    Two men out fishing six miles from the Dermond's home came upon a woman's body floating face-down. Her ankles were tethered to two 30-pound cinder blocks.

    Sheriff Sills was summoned. He arrived by boat and personally pulled the body from the water. It was Shirley Dermond.

    Decomposition and internal gases had swollen her 5 foot, 2 inch body to twice its normal weight. "She had been beaten to death," Sills told InsideEdition.com. "There were multiple blows to her head by some sort of blunt object, possibly a hammer."

    Shirley's body was fully clothed. There were no signs of sexual assault. "Obviously, then, we did not look for Mrs. Dermond anymore," Sills said. "Up until that point in time, every electronic billboard in Georgia had her picture on it."

    That was the last piece of substantial evidence to ever surface in the Dermond murders.

    The sheriff has interviewed hundreds of people, he estimates. On a single day, coordinating with several law enforcement agencies, 250 people were questioned, he said. The couple's bank records have been reviewed. Their safety deposit box was opened. Their wills were scrutinized. Their phone records were examined, as were the tower cell phone records in the area. Their three children were separately given polygraph tests and passed.

    Russell Dermond's head has never been recovered. There were no unusual fingerprints or DNA evidence discovered in their home. No one saw the killer or killers. Shirley Dermond was a fastidious housewife and her home was spotless, Sills said.

    "It's unexplainable," Sills says of the case. "I've worked many homicides in my career and it really upsets me that we're not any better off today than we were four years ago."
  11. Skitt

    Skitt Bronze Member

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