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Dermond double homicide case: Sheriff gives latest update on forensics

A Georgia sheriff says law enforcement crime scene techs collected crucial forensic evidence at a double homicide in the luxury golf community in Putnam County.
A Georgia sheriff says law enforcement crime scene techs collected crucial forensic evidence at a double homicide in the luxury golf community in Putnam County.
Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons/Duffman

The holy grail of forensic evidence was recovered at Russell and Shirley Dermond's home during the FBI and Putnam County Sheriff's Office's crime scene processing of the home. Sheriff Howard Sills told WSB Atlanta reporter Mark Winne in an exclusive interview on June 4 that he also had hair and fiber evidence and knew the killer used two different weapons on his elderly couple victims.

"I won't elaborate on what the murder weapons were," Sheriff Sills said. And he added that "We've got all manner of forensic evidence we've collected from the house." But he also said other 'items of significance to the case' have also been obtained, but they can't talk about them, although he believes they are very pertinent to his investigation.

So why has the FBI and the sheriff's office not run the fingerprints through the Automated Fingerprint Identification System (otherwise known in law enforcement circles as AFIS, but better known as the FBI's Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System)?

They have, obviously, and not gotten a match, or else there would have have likely been an arrest made--if the case investigation supported it, of course. Therefore the lack of a match in the AFIS or IAFIS system would indicate that the killer or killers has either not been arrested in the past for any crime or for some reason their fingerprints were not taken at the time of the arrest, or the arrest occurred before AFIS was in place, or fourth, their arrest was as a juvenile, which means their records were sealed and their prints were not put in AFIS. They may also have worn gloves, so their fingerprints were not in those collected at the crime scene.

The FBI's Integrated Fingerprint Information System (IAFIS), which collects this local and state law enforcement fingerprint and arrest data (for compilation into their national electronic system), goes a step further in fingerprint collection, as they also collect fingerprints of people who were printed for employment purposes, such as with the military or for federal jobs.

So the Putnam County Sheriff's Office and the FBI may have a print of the killer or killers of Russell and Shirley Dermond in their possession, but they may be waiting on some more evidence against the individual or couple before they make an arrest. And that is where the recent reward increase comes into play, which could get someone to turn the criminals in to law enforcement for the money.

Howard Sills and his deputies, along with the FBI and other local law enforcement agencies, have been working the Russell and Shirley Dermond double homicide investigation for one month now. They have forensic evidence including fingerprints, hair and fibers. And they have evidence they have not disclosed, the sheriff told the WSB Atlanta reporter.

The sheriff also has said in the recent past that he and the FBI believe there were two or more killers, that the Dermonds knew their attackers, at least in a casual way, and that two different weapons were used on the elderly Great Waters golf community couple who lived at the Reynolds Plantation luxury community.

And based upon all the evidence the PCSO and the FBI do have in the Dermond couple killing, it may be only a matter of time before they are able to arrest the person or persons they believe committed this horrible crime against two old people living out their latter years in a secluded lake property.

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