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Sheriff: 'There’s a Lot of Fear' as Hunt Continues for Suspects in Beheading, Kidnapping

A retired owner of fast food restaurants was beheaded at his home in Putnam County and his elderly wife is thought to have been kidnapped. The FBI is now offering a $20K reward in the case.

The FBI is offering a $20,000 reward for information leading to Shirley Dermond’s recovery. File|Patch
The FBI is offering a $20,000 reward for information leading to Shirley Dermond’s recovery. File|Patch

Polygraph tests have been administered to workers and a reward is now being offered for leads in the search for the killer of an elderly Putnam County man and the suspects who then kidnapped his wife.

Shirley Dermond, 87, hasn't been seen in more than a week. Investigators think she was kidnapped when her 88-year-old husband, Russell, was murdered and beheaded at their home on Lake Oconee. His body was found May 6.

According to WSB-TV, friends of Russell and Shirley Dermond went to the couple's home May 6 and discovered his body. Russell Dermond's head was not found at the Reynolds Plantation crime scene, the station reports.

Authorities say Russell Dermond, the retired owner of fast food restaurants, was killed on May 2 or 3 and his wife kidnapped. The attackers didn't use force to enter the couple's lakeside home. Investigators are finding it hard to track Shirley Dermond because her wallet, cellphone, purse and car were all left behind, the sheriff said.

Maintenance workers with access inside Reynolds Plantation were given polygraph tests that turned up nothing new, Putnam County Sheriff Howard Sills told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

After searches on land and water came up empty, the FBI announced it is offering a $20,000 reward for information leading to Shirley Dermond’s recovery.

Deputies and officers from seven local agencies, along with the FBI, on Wednesday searched about six acres of vacant land across the street from the Dermond home, but turned up nothing.

Meanwhile, the Department of Natural Resources will use a submarine robot to again look for clues in a section of Lake Oconee near the crime scene.

Sheriff Sills told the newspaper the biggest challenge has been interviewing nervous friends and neighbors of the Dermonds. 

“I’ve never dealt with a case where so many people were reluctant to talk,” he said. “They’re reluctant because they’re afraid they’re going to get their heads cut off. There’s a lot of fear.”

Earlier in the week, electronic billboards in south Georgia began showing ads asking for information about the grisly case.

Fairway Outdoor Advertising is running a plea for tips in the Dermond case on four billboards in the Albany area and two in Valdosta, reports WALB TV. The ads show Shirley Dermond's picture, announce a reward for information, and ask that tips be called in to the FBI at 404-679-9000 or the Putnam County Sheriff's Office at 706-485-8557.

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

Patch's earlier coverage:

Billboards Seek Tips in Beheading of Husband, Disappearance of Elderly Wife

Police: Husband Beheaded, Wife May Have Been Kidnapped

Vigil Set for Beheaded Man, Kidnapped Wife

Cris May 15, 2014 at 03:06 PM
I don't blame friends and family are reluctant to talk. I would feel the same way, not to mention I like my head with/on my body. I hope they do find her and find her alive but the severity of the crime, I doubt it. Everyone needs to pray to whomever they pray to for finding her-alive or finding her period.
RL May 15, 2014 at 04:26 PM
It was a mob hit.
Steve M May 15, 2014 at 05:07 PM
It is definitely about money; "owner of fast food restaurants". A lot of times, money creates more problems than it solves.
Lone Stranger May 15, 2014 at 06:27 PM
I agree with RL and Steve. It has to be some kind of money related hit. You dont see too many beheadings unless we are talking about Obama's relatives. Then they can be frequent.
Rogers Lackey May 16, 2014 at 04:57 AM
The same Drama Queens making up stuff they no noting about.

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