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Police: Shirley Dermond Died of Blunt Force Trauma; Hunt Continues for Suspect in Murders, Beheading

The body of an elderly Putnam County woman was found Friday in Lake Oconee. Authorities say she was dead before her body was left in the lake.

Authorities say Shirley Dermond died of blunt force trauma and her body was then dumped in Lake Oconee. Credit: WSB
Authorities say Shirley Dermond died of blunt force trauma and her body was then dumped in Lake Oconee. Credit: WSB

An elderly Putnam County woman missing for nearly two weeks after attackers beheaded her husband and took her from the couple's home died of blunt force trauma before her body was dumped into Lake Oconee.

The Putnam County Sheriff said late Friday afternoon that a body pulled from Lake Oconee was that of Shirley Dermond. WSB TV first reported the grisly finding.

Investigators said Shirley Dermond, 87, died after suffering blunt force trauma to the head, reports WSB TV.

Dermond was dead when she was dumped in Lake Oconee, Putnam County Sheriff Howard Sills told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. She did not drown and she was not alive when she was put in the water, he said.

Dennis Higgs, a fisherman, found Shirley Dermond's body while fishing on the lake where the couple lived.

"We came down, got in the boat, left out, and on the way to go fishing I noticed something that looked strange," Higgs told WGCL TV. "We got close enough that we were 95 percent sure that it was a body or something."

Deputies would later confirm that Higgs found Shirley Dermond's body. They believe she was abducted two weeks ago after someone decapitated her husband, Russell Dermond, 89.

Higgs said Dermond’s body was caught on a tree top.

Over the weekend, sheriff’s deputies and Department of Natural Resources officials searched the lake for Russell Dermond’s head. The 88-year-old man was murdered and beheaded at their home, likely on May 2 or 3. His body was found May 6.

According to WSB-TV, friends of Russell and Shirley Dermond went to the couple's home May 6 and discovered his body. Russell Dermond's head was not found at the Reynolds Plantation crime scene, the station reports.

The attackers didn't use force to enter the couple's lakeside home. Investigators said Shirley Dermond's wallet, cellphone, purse and car were all left behind.

Other than using the Georgia Bureau of Investigation crime lab, Sheriff Howard Sills has declined to call in GBI investigators to help with the high-profile case.

The Dermonds' son, Keith of Jacksonville, FL, told WSB that bringing in more investigators would be a good idea.

“The more people we have looking at things, who knows? The more resources, the more people, it would be better off. I don't know why the GBI wouldn't be involved," Keith Dermond said.

Sills maintains his investigation is very thorough.

Maintenance workers with access inside Reynolds Plantation were recently given polygraph tests that turned up nothing new, Putnam County Sheriff Howard Sills told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Last week, electronic billboards in south Georgia began showing ads asking for information about the grisly case.

Fairway Outdoor Advertising is running a plea for tips in the Dermond case on four billboards in the Albany area and two in Valdosta, reports WALB TV. The ads show Shirley Dermond's picture, announce a reward for information, and ask that tips be called in to the FBI at 404-679-9000 or the Putnam County Sheriff's Office at 706-485-8557.

Patch's earlier coverage:

Shirley Dermond's Body Found in Lake; Hunt Continues for Suspect in Husband's Beheading

Sheriff: 'There’s a Lot of Fear' as Hunt Continues for Suspects in Beheading, Kidnapping

Billboards Seek Tips in Beheading of Husband, Disappearance of Elderly Wife

Police: Husband Beheaded, Wife May Have Been Kidnapped

Vigil Set for Beheaded Man, Kidnapped Wife

Paul Woodward, MD May 27, 2014 at 02:02 PM
Originally from New Jersey. Think about it.

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