Who Killed Russell And Shirley Dermond? New Details On The Unsolved Murder Of The Georgia Couple

Who Killed Russell And Shirley Dermond? New Details On The Unsolved Murder Of The Georgia Couple

There’s a mystery that has been haunting a small, gated community in Eatonton, Georgia, for five years now: who killed Russell and Shirley Dermond?

On May 6, 2014, Russell Dermond was found dead in the garage of his home. The 88-year-old’s head was missing, and has never been found. Investigators found gunpowder residue on his collar, suggesting he was shot; they believe the killers removed and took his head to prevent authorities from finding the bullets.

Still missing was his wife, 87-year-old Shirley, and 10 days later, her body was pulled from Lake Oconee, with two concrete blocks tied to her. According to experts, she died of blunt force trauma to the head.

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Russell’s body was discovered between two cars in the garage, but there were no signs of forced entry or a struggle in the home. Everything was in place as the Dermonds left them, and nothing was taken. The murders remain unsolved, and there have been no arrests.

So, what happened that tragic night when two innocent lives were lost? Investigators have struggled to put the pieces together and find who killed the couple. At the time of the murders, the security cameras weren’t working at the guard house, and it is unknown how the killers found a way into the community.

Sheriff Howard Sills, who has worked as a police officer for more than 40 years, says this case personally haunts him, calling it “a yoke around my neck.” Sills suspects the couple were killed by two or more people. Motivated by money, they may have thought the Dermonds had items of extreme value in their home, but left without taking anything after they discovered they were wrong.

Sills says he still thinks of the case every day, but that they are no closer to solving it than they were five years ago. “Five years ago, we were running hot leads and things like that, and we’re not running that now. That doesn’t mean, though, that we’re not following up on leads,” he said. “We still aggressively pursue anything that’s plausible... if it’s anything at all, we’re jumping on it and we’re jumping on it, aggressively.”

Sills said he wanted to know more than anybody on earth who committed the murders and why.

“It’s the most frustrating case I’ve ever had,” Sills said. “I know people get tired of hearing me say that I wake up every morning and think about it and I go to sleep thinking about it. I do this every day.”

The Deputy’s office called in assistance from the FBI, and brought in its specialized behavioral unit to make profiles of the killers.

According to Sills, “The bottom line of the profile that was worked up was that it was a male subject who probably liked guns and knives and things like that. Well, guess what? That’s everybody in Georgia pretty much, certainly in middle Georgia. It’s not that I don’t appreciate the fact that the BAU looked at this case and gave us some good questions to ask when we formulated questions to ask people. But the profile just fits so many people.”  

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Though the FBI didn’t do much to help solve the case, Sills is positive that Shirley’s body was disposed of by boat. The couple, however, didn’t own a boat, so it’s unknown where the killers got one.

Another component of this mystery is the multiple crime scenes. Sills says there were at least two, three, or possibly more.

“We don’t know where all the crime scenes were in this case and that’s been a big problem... One was the water where Mrs. Dermond’s body was recovered, which is certainly not the best crime scene. And number two is the house where Mr. Dermond’s head was removed postmortem after he was dead,” he revealed.

But due to the nature of Shirley’s murder, there was no physical evidence left behind, leading Sills to believe that she wasn’t killed in the home. It’s also possible that Russell wasn’t murdered in the home either.

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“Her injuries were such that there should have been physical evidence left behind that simply wasn’t there. They could have been killed in the same place, but obviously I don’t know. The only certain evidence is that after Mr. Dermond was dead, his head was severed in that garage. That’s the only evidence in that house... It does not appear from a physical evidence standpoint that they were murdered there at all,” he said.

The last time Russell was seen alive was a few days earlier, on May 1, when he went to the store and bank. The surveillance videos from each location revealed that Russell transferred money, picked up a prescription, and bought bread and cucumbers. In the video, he’s wearing the same clothes authorities found when they searched the couple’s home.

Before dinner that night, the Dermonds spoke to their son on the phone, and a few days later, were supposed to attend a Kentucky Derby party. They never showed up, and a concerned neighbor checked on the couple on May 6th, discovered the body, and called 911. According to Sills, Russell’s murder occurred somewhere between 4:30 PM on May 1, and 6 PM on May 4, when they didn’t show up to the party.

For the Dermond family, it’s been five years of heartbreak. Brad, their youngest child, says his beloved parents were private people, and that they adored their grandchildren and his siblings. “Both her and dad, total family people. Their favorite time was to spend time with the family and grandkids... [They were] just the most wonderful people you’d ever want to meet,” Brad lovingly revealed.

As the family struggles to come to terms with the unsolved murder, Brad is certain of one thing: that Sills can, and will, solve his parents’ murders. “If there’s somebody who’s going to get this thing solved, it’s going to be him,” he said.

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Samantha Maffucci is an editor for YourTango who focuses on writing trending news and entertainment pieces. In her free time, you can find her obsessing about cats, wine, and all things Vanderpump Rules.