Decapitation mystery: Security camera wasn't on, son tells AJC

Russell Dermond, 88 was found dead in his garage. His wife of 62 years, Shirley Dermond, is missing.



Keith Dermond has no idea why anyone would kill his father and presumably abduct his mother.

It’s been nine days since 88-year-old Russell Dermond’s decapitated body was found and his wife reported missing. Though the search for 87-year-old Shirley Dermond continues, investigators doubt she’ll be found alive.


Part of Keith Dermond hopes she’s not. He’d like to think she went quietly, shielded from the depravity that befell her husband of 62 years.


“The thought of her suffering is too much to bear,” Dermond, 55, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Thursday from his home in Jacksonville.


Investigators believe they were killed sometime between May 2 and 3rd. Though he wouldn’t elaborate, Keith Dermond said it’s likely the crimes happened during the day.


“They had a security system. And they always kept their doors locked,” Dermond said. “They were religious about that.”


Dermond also revealed that cameras manning the gates at Reynolds Plantation weren’t functioning at the time.


Polygraph tests were administered to maintenance workers with access inside the gated community about 80 miles southeast of Atlanta, but nothing came of them, Putnam County Sheriff Howard Sills said.


“I’m still interviewing friends” of the couple, Sills told The AJC. Many of them are afraid to talk. “There’s a lot of fear.”


The Dermonds’ children aren’t immune to those fears.


“We’ve got a little bit of concern,” Keith Dermond said. “We’ve gotten a few weird phone calls.”


None of them have provided any information about who killed their father and took his mother.


The family’s only previous brush with violence came in 2000, when the couple’s oldest son, Mark Dermond, was killed while trying to buy crack cocaine in Atlanta. Neither Keith Dermond or investigators believe there’s any connection.


“It was so long ago. My parents didn’t even attend the trial” of Mark Dermond’s killer, his brother said. “It doesn’t make any sense.”


Nothing does.


“They were so well-liked. And he hasn’t been in business for 20 years. You can’t help wondering if it was cult-related or something like that,” Keith Dermond said. “Or maybe even a case of mistaken identity.”


It doesn’t appear to be financially driven, investigators say.


“There were plenty of things still in the house of value they could’ve taken,” Dermond said. “If they stole something, it was minor.”


Dermond said he believes his parents might have been targeted because of their location inside the exclusive community — on a cul de sac, with no next door neighbor.


“The not knowing is horrible,” he said.


The Dermond children are resigned they’ll never see their parents again. A funeral for their father is on hold until their mother is found.


“They were so devoted to each other,” he said. “If there’s any saving grace to this, maybe it’s that they died together. I don’t think my mother could bear going on without my father.”



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