As of May 13, 2014, the Putnam County Sheriff Howard Sills was no closer to finding a missing elderly Georgia woman named Shirley Dermond than when she disappeared, despite approximately 100 digital billboards across the state getting plastered with her face. Ditto for the missing head of the Reynolds Plantation community homicide victim, her husband, Russell Dermond, 88. But the AJC reported Tuesday that Sheriff Sills was able to at least discount several theories and reports about the missing woman and her dead husband.
First, the elderly woman allegedly "dazed and confused" who showed up at a Tampa hospital yesterday was not the missing mother of Leslie Dermond Patton and her two brothers Keith and Brad.
Second, the Putnam County law enforcement official firmly denied the social media rumors going around, which alluded that Russell Dermond was in a witness protection program because he was going to testify against organized crime bosses. There were also rumors about Dermond being tortured circulating as well. But Sheriff Sills said none of that is accurate.
What is known at this time is that the pristine home interior of Shirley Dermond is now covered with crime scene fingerprint powder. And according to Channel 13 WMAZ, investigators were still at the Dermond home dusting for prints and interviewing neighbors as of Monday.
Additionally, according to a report from 13WMAZ, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources has employed an underwater robot to search the cove portion of the lake behind the victim's home on Tuesday, in an effort to find the decapitated head of the elderly male victim and/or the body of his missing wife. This is the second time that portion of Lake Oconee has been searched, with the last effort producing only a lawn chair and a Christmas tree after sonar was used.
Other social media rumors the sheriff has felt the need to address since the homicide and missing person investigation began include the concern that the murder of the Dermond's son, Mark Dermond (back in August 30, 2000), was somehow tied to the murder of the victim's father this month.
In that case, the suspect who was charged and convicted of the crime, Troy Major, remains in the Georgia Department of Corrections system, serving a life sentence. According to this Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles website, Major has no tentative parole month for the foreseeable future. And the Georgia Department of Corrections website shows that he received 20 years for aggravated assault in that case, following a five-year sentence for possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime.
Sheriff Sills stated early on in the investigation that he had no reason to believe the prior murder of Mark Dermond was in any way tied to the murder of his father this month, or the disappearance of his mother. But given April news in Georgia about Frank Arthur Janssen--the North Carolina DA's father who was kidnapped and threatened with dismemberment and possible death, which was encouraged by a convicted criminal put away by Janssen's DA daughter--some felt a similar effort may have been made in this case.
Anyone having any information in the murder of Russell Dermond or the disappearance of his missing wife Shirley, are asked to make contact with the Putnam County Sheriff's Office. A reward is being considered. To read a profile about the Georgia decapitation murder click here.