Neighbors found 88-year-old Russell Dermond’s decapitated body one week ago today. His wife of 68 years, Shirley Dermond, has been missing ever since, and Putnam Sheriff Howard Sills said he is not optimistic she’ll be found alive.
“I’m running down one thing after another and coming up empty,” Sills said Tuesday.
Speculation abounds on social media, including a false report that a elderly woman who turned up dazed and confused Monday at a Tampa hospital was Shirley Dermond.
Sills said rumors of organized crime involvement are unfounded.
“No, the man wasn’t in witness protection,” he said. “He wasn’t going to testify. There’s no evidence of any kind of torture.”
Investigators believe Russell Dermond’s head, yet to be recovered, was severed after he was killed.
On Tuesday, they enlisted the aid of a Department of Natural Resources submarine robot to scour the deep peninsula off Lake Oconee outside the couple’s Reynolds Plantation home. So far, they’ve turned up nothing but a ladder and some discarded lumber.
Sills said he’s also dispatched deputies to a wooded area near the crime scene hoping to turn up something, if only a clue. He said he’s received 87-year-old Shirley Dermond’s dental records, in case they’re needed for identification.