Missing Putnam County woman died of blunt force trauma

PUTNAM COUNTY, Ga. – The Putnam County Coroner determined Shirley Dermond died of blunt force trauma.

Dermond, 87, had not been seen in almost two weeks before two fisherman discovered her body near a dam at Lake Oconee Friday afternoon.

On May 5, the body of her husband, 88-year-old Russell Dermond, was found decapitated in the garage of his home in the Great Waters community at Lake Oconee. His head has not been recovered, according to Putnam County Sheriff Howard Sills.

"While we were riding towards the place I was going to go fishing, I noticed something that looked strange -- out of the ordinary -- so we approached it," said fisherman Dennis Higgs. "When we got close enough to see what it might be -- we thought it might be a buoy or something like that -- when we got closer to it, we realized it was more than a buoy. It was something else, so we backed off from it. I think at 2:24, I called 9-1-1."

Sheriff's officials confirmed that the body found was Shirley Dermond's.

Sills said that Shirley Dermond's death was "most certainly a homicide," but said that there was no "glaring signs of trauma." He said that the body was found about 5 or 6 miles from the Dermond's home, which could indicate that it was transported there.

Officials said that based on their investigation, they have been able to narrow the time-frame of Russell Dermond's murder to somewhere between 4:30 p.m., on Friday, May 2 – when the mail was delivered – to 4 p.m. on Saturday, May 3, when the couple did not show up for a party. There were no signs of forced entry or indications of a a struggle in the home, authorities said.

Previous searches of the area and of the lake had yielded no clues as to Shirley Dermond's whereabouts. Investigators have said they have no leads in Russell Dermond's murder yet. Anyone with information is asked to call the Putnam County Sheriff's Office at 706-485-8557.

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