A local sheriff says data provided to the FBI might help them solve the grisly double homicide of an elderly pair eight years ago.
Russell Dermond, 88, and his wife Shirley Dermond, 87, were brutally murdered in their gated community overlooking Lake Oconee, Georgia, in 2014, according to Fox Macon affiliate WGXA. Officials with the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office now hope that recent access to newer technology managed by the FBI will help them identify a killer or killers once and for all.
Putnam County Sheriff Howard Sills told NBC Atlanta affiliate WXIA-TV on Friday that the new evidence includes cell phone data.
“The technology we are using was not in existence back in 2014,” Sheriff Sills stated. “I don’t want to create the impression that I have acquired some silver bullet, but this is yet another tool we are using to find out who perpetrated these heinous crimes.”
The murders were shocking for Sills, who once called it the most frustrating case of his career. He'd even warned residents to lock their doors, claiming that everyone (except him) was a suspect.
On the morning of May 6, 2014, a neighbor and her husband went by the couple’s million-dollar home at the Great Waters at Reynolds golf resort after they hadn’t shown up to the community’s annual Kentucky Derby party three days earlier.
There, they found the decapitated body of Mr. Dermond in the garage. It seemed someone tried to clean the crime scene with a bunch of blood-soaked towels, which were apparently then used to keep blood from seeping under the garage door, according to Fox Atlanta affiliate WAGA-TV.
Mr. Dermond’s head has never been found, but gunpowder found on the victim’s collar led authorities to believe that he was shot and someone then removed his head to keep investigators from finding the bullet.
It was initially believed that Mrs. Dermond had been kidnapped. But, 10 days later, two fishermen found her body in a lake in Eatonton, Georgia about five miles from the couple's home.
Postmortem examination reports published by WXIA-TV showed that someone had tried to weigh her body down by tying red cinder blocks tied around her ankles with parachute cording. Experts ruled she had skull fractures consistent with being beat with a hammer, resulting in her death.
“I’m going to catch these sons of bitches,” Sills vowed, according to the Atlanta outlet.
Investigators, however, found no foreign DNA on the scene, there were no eyewitnesses and hundreds of interviews led to nowhere. There was no sign of forced entry into and nothing was taken from the home. It was never determined if the killer or killers arrived at the couple’s home by land or via the lake.
The couple’s three adult children were ruled out as suspects, according to WGXA, after passing polygraph tests, per WAGA-TV.
At one point, investigators looked at the convicted killer who'd murdered the Dermonds’ son, Mark Dermond, during a 2000 drug deal, according to the Macon outlet. But authorities never connected the two cases.
“Obviously, Mom and Dad, at that point, were in their mid-to-late 80s,” their son, Brad Dermond, told WXIA-TV Friday. “If there was an enemy out there, [it] would have taken place sooner than that.”
“What we need more than anything is for someone to call us and tell us who is responsible for this savagery,” Sheriff Sills added.
Anyone with information can contact the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office at 1-706-485-8557.