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Decapitation mystery: 'They didn't deserve this'

Police remained baffled by Lake Oconee slaying, missing woman

Saturday, May 10, 2014 7:40 AM
Last updated 4:55 PM
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EATONTON, Ga. -- It was the late 1980s and Russell Dermond, a meticulous World War II-era Navy man and college honor grad, wanted to leave something for his children.

Russell Dermond, 88 was found dead in his garage. His wife of 62 years, Shirley Dermond, is missing.   MACON TELEGRAPH/GEORGIA NEWSPAPER PARTNERSHIP
MACON TELEGRAPH/GEORGIA NEWSPAPER PARTNERSHIP
Russell Dermond, 88 was found dead in his garage. His wife of 62 years, Shirley Dermond, is missing.

So at 58 he retired after spending much of his career with a company that owned clock brands Westclox and Seth Thomas and went into the fast-food business. Before long he would oversee a chain of 16 Hardee’s restaurants that ringed metropolitan Atlanta.

“There’s no doubt he did it for his kids,” his son, Keith Dermond, told The Telegraph on Friday.

The son, 55, spoke by phone after leaving a family attorney’s office in Atlanta in the wake of 88-year-old Russell Dermond’s slaying here and the vanishing and potential abduction of his wife of 62 years. The killing and subsequent disappearance of 87-year-old Shirley Dermond has baffled investigators since concerned neighbors discovered Russell Dermond’s headless body lying in his garage near the couple’s cars Tuesday morning.

He had most likely been killed the previous weekend, authorities have said. His head hasn’t been found.

As news crews from across the region have descended on the lakefront golfing community where the Dermonds settled 15 years ago, the grim nature of the case and the mystery surrounding it has captivated and worried locals.

“It’s all anybody’s talking about,” a woman visiting an inmate at the county jail said. The crime has attracted international attention and also generated its share of crackpot tips. On Friday afternoon, someone called the sheriff’s office claiming to be a psychic, offering investigators a sketch of the killer or killers.

The FBI has been called in because of the possible kidnapping of Shirley Dermond, and a criminal-behavior specialist may work up a profile of the suspect. In the meantime, the hunt still focuses on the whereabouts of the missing woman, who stands about 5-foot-2 and weighs 148 pounds. She has gray hair and blue eyes.

Earlier Friday, Putnam County Sheriff Howard Sills said Russell Dermond’s autopsy yielded little to help deputies track down a culprit. “The official cause of death is craniocerebral trauma,” Sills said.

Because the slain man’s head was not found, it isn’t known whether he was shot, stabbed or suffered some other blow. The couple’s cell phones, keys and Shirley Dermond’s pocketbook were inside their $1 million house, which overlooks a wooded Lake Oconee cove in a cul-de-sac about a dozen miles northeast of Eatonton. Without much to go on from the autopsy, investigators are relying on other clues to pinpoint the timeline of the slaying and likely abduction.

Russell Dermond was last seen May 1 at a supermarket not far from his Carolyn Drive home. Shirley Dermond had worked the next day’s newspaper crossword puzzle, but no one had taken the couple’s May 3 mail out of their mailbox. That same day, last Saturday, the Dermonds failed to show up at a friend’s Kentucky Derby party.

Financial and phone records have not turned up anything to suggest the Dermonds would be the target of criminal activity, the sheriff said. Even so, their son, Keith Dermond, said that based on what investigators have told him, whoever is responsible might have picked them out for some as-yet-unknown reason.

“Our thoughts are with our mom now. There’s nothing more we can do for our dad. … Not knowing is the worst, just a horrible thing,” he said. “We’re not optimistic anymore after a week with no contact.”

In what seemed a plea to his father’s killer and his mother’s potential abductor, the son added, “Just tell us where she is. They didn’t deserve this. … It’s not fair. … They never hurt anybody.”

Russell Dermond, the son of an auto mechanic, was raised in New Jersey. He graduated from north Jersey’s Fairleigh Dickinson University in three years, Keith Dermond said. He served in the Navy in the mid-1940s and went to work for General Time Corp., where he was director of what might now be called information services, data processing. His job sent him on trips across the country and abroad.

“He was such a family man. He was just devoted to his family,” Keith Dermond said. “He was a very hard worker, just a self-made man.”

His wife, educated at Barnard College in New York City, looked after their three sons and daughter in New Jersey.

“They were very sharp people,” Keith Dermond said of his parents. He described his mother as a fantastic bridge player who wowed him with her crossword-puzzle-working wits.

“There’s nobody who met her that didn’t love her,” the son said, adding, “and she never gossiped.”

Russell Dermond played golf until a couple of years ago. He and his wife were in such good shape that they liked to keep their age a secret. “I’m sure their friends are shocked to learn their ages now,” Keith Dermond said. He and his younger brother Brad, who live in Florida, followed their father’s footsteps in the restaurant industry.

The elder Dermonds, after living a number of years in a country-club community along the Chattahoochee River above Interstate 285, built their retirement home on Oconee in the late 1990s.

“They loved living on the lake. They just enjoyed the leisurely life, and they were enjoying the fruits of their labor,” Keith Dermond said. “I know they didn’t miss the Atlanta traffic.”

Losing them, he said, has left loved ones “devastated.” “We certainly would like to see some justice done.”

Read more:

http://www.macon.com/2014/05/09/3089222/autopsy-sheds-little-light-on.html?sp=/99/100/&ihp=1#storylink=cpy

Comments (11) Add comment
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GiantsAllDay
9865
Points
GiantsAllDay 05/10/14 - 09:42 am
0
9
Have the police interviewed

Have the police interviewed Ben Roethlisberger as a person of interest? He owns a house in the area and has been known to stray from home and commit crimes against persons.

Darby
26972
Points
Darby 05/10/14 - 11:06 am
5
0
"Have the police interviewed Ben Roethlisberger

as a person of interest?"

.
I'm sure you're thinking, "There has to be SOMEBODY" out there who thinks that's funny.

eschamb
154
Points
eschamb 05/10/14 - 11:31 am
0
0
Family related

I say someone in the family has more information.

Sweet son
10752
Points
Sweet son 05/10/14 - 01:18 pm
4
0
Hey Darby,

he was accused of raping a 20 year old in an Atlanta club. Rape kit evidence was inconclusive and the victim was so drunk that she couldn't remember if anything had happened. No charges were filed.

corgimom
34215
Points
corgimom 05/10/14 - 04:02 pm
2
3
Yeah, Darby, the only problem

Yeah, Darby, the only problem is that there isn't anybody that does think it's funny.

edcushman
7930
Points
edcushman 05/10/14 - 04:05 pm
5
8
" Have the police interviewed
Unpublished

" Have the police interviewed Ben Roethlisberger as a person of interest?"
Nay, he is a white guy the cops only go after the black guys.

Darby
26972
Points
Darby 05/10/14 - 07:03 pm
6
0
"....he was accused of raping a 20 year

old in an Atlanta club."

.
Just sitting here wondering how that relates to someone's parents and grandparents being abducted, murdered, or beheaded....

The Mick
827
Points
The Mick 05/10/14 - 08:09 pm
0
0
I'm not in law enforcement so

I'm not in law enforcement so I am just guessing here. You have to personally hate someone to decapitate them. Why would you not just shoot them? Or maybe I watch too much NCIS

GiantsAllDay
9865
Points
GiantsAllDay 05/11/14 - 12:13 am
2
1
My theory (and it's just a

My theory (and it's just a theory):
The wife is also dead. The police believe this also, but are playing the game and going through the hoops. This was not a random act of violence. That neighborhood is heavily guarded and your everyday thug doesn't have the brains or resources to pull this off. Someone had this done. Right now the police are looking into how much the kids stand to inherit and are going from there. If this turns up empty the police will then try and find who else this guy could of upset.

justthefacts
22759
Points
justthefacts 05/11/14 - 08:15 am
1
0
Clarification

The rape happened in Milledgeville, not Atlanta. And, of course, has nothing to do with this sad case. Or than someone attempt at sick humor.

Sweet son
10752
Points
Sweet son 05/11/14 - 12:59 pm
1
1
Hey Darby, you have got to interview all of the neighbors when

you don't have any leads and he should have an asterisk by his name because of his possible crime against a person.

Darby
26972
Points
Darby 05/11/14 - 05:12 pm
2
0
"Hey Darby, you have got to interview

all of the neighbors when....."

Yeah - I'm sure that Roethlisberger is way up there on the "persons of interest" list.

Given that an unproved and dismissed drunken date-rape charge involving a young nubile thing is SO akin to murder, abduction and decapitation involving two octogenarians.

The similarities are staggering!

I can certainly see the connection. Don't see how I could have missed that the first time around.

BTW - For the record, I've no love lost on the Steelers. I see Roethlisberger as a spoiled, rich, thug.

I'm sure the libs on board here will allow me to use the "code" word thug which they feel normally refers to blacks whenever used by one of us white conservative racists. (i.e. - Any white who is NOT a Democrat.)

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