Couple's finances focus of Lake Oconee murder probe

EATONTON, GA -- Putnam County Sheriff Howard Sills says leads have dried up, tipsters have mostly stopped calling and writing. Now Stills says the county's only double murder probe is searching the victims' finances for leads to their killer.

Russell and Shirley Dermond were in their late 80s, living in a high-end resort community when they died in early May – the work of two or more killers, according to Sills. Neighbors found Mr. Dermond's decapitated body in his home. A fisherman found Mrs. Dermond's body in the lake days later.

Sheriff Sills says investigators are now combing 4,000 pages of the victims financial records in the hope of finding leads – which have become more elusive with each passing week.

"Has it slowed down? Yes it has. Calls and leads and things like that have slowed down. The reward we're offering doesn't seem to be initiating any calls and things like that," Sills said. "But we're still actively doing things in conjunction with this case."

In late July, Sills went over the double murder evidence with cold case detectives from Florida– who happened to be in town for something else. He says the mystery of who killed the couple got no closer to resolution.

Sills believes the killers likely accessed the victims' property by boat with a motive that is no clearer than it was three months ago. But he believes the case is still solvable.

"I'll be hopeful that it's solvable til the day I die," Sills said.

Sills says his investigators recently polygraphed a potential witness who came forward with some information that may or may not be useful. Friday he says he'll be in Atlanta in pursuit of more financial records connected to the victims.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Putnam County Sheriff's Office at 706-485-8557.


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