Shirley Dermond, married for 62 years to the retired clock manufacturing executive and fast food franchisee, was also missing. Her body would surface 10 days later, discovered about five miles from her home by a couple of fishermen on Lake Oconee. An autopsy later revealed Shirley Dermond, 87, was felled by two, maybe three blows to the head with a blunt object. They were deep wounds, signaling an unmistakably lethal intent.
At first, the murders appeared to be the work of professionals; Sills said he initially assumed the beheading was meant to send a message. But the FBI couldn’t find any connections to the Dermonds in any of their investigations. The couple had no known enemies.
And besides, would seasoned killers take the risk of transporting Shirley Dermond’s body — which they clearly didn’t want discovered — on a public lake, then weigh it down with just a pair of 30-pound cinder blocks?
Professionals likely would not expend the time it takes to decapitate, Sills said. "They shoot you in the head and leave," he said. Russell Dermond was most likely shot — gun residue on his collar indicates that — but the sheriff believes his head was removed because the killers knew the bullet could be traced. The head has yet to be found.
Read more of this article at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution here.