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Georgia sheriff facing a John P. Wheeler case repeat in golf resort murders

Russell Dermond and wife Shirley Dermond pictured with one of their grandsons prior to their double slaying in May 2014.
Russell Dermond and wife Shirley Dermond pictured with one of their grandsons prior to their double slaying in May 2014.
Courtesy of Graham Patton Facebook

Law enforcement investigators in the John P. Wheeler murder case in Delaware still don't have their man (or woman) responsible for the slaying of the Vietnam veteran who had the ear of a president in his day. And that's despite the fact that a reward was offered in the case for any information that could lead to the apprehension and successful conviction of the accused--if one was ever named.

And on June 3, 2014 the Putnam County Sheriff in charge of the Reynolds Plantation golf resort and community double homicide investigation is telling the public that he thinks a reward might be what is needed to break open his murder case now, too, according to WMAZ.

Sheriff Howard Sills says it may take "a significant monetary reward" to break the case. But the $25,000 reward offered up to find the former Pentagon official Wheeler in 2011 did not help Newark Police apprehend a criminal in that slaying, and the $100,000 offered as a reward to find JonBenet Ramsey's killer didn't help back then either.

Slayings that already have a money motivation for the crime--like the collection of a life insurance policy by the killers' contractor, or an inheritance expected after the death of a loved one or friend (or even the ability to finally purchase the deceased victims property--or ignore a debt owed them), can hinder police getting a tip as the result of a reward. What's $63,000 in reward money compared to that kind of payoff, right?

And homicides like the Dermond couples case in Great Waters, where the killers had to coordinate the murders of two people inside a gated community and then dispose of one of their heads (and the body of the other) suggests a criminal expecting a major payoff of some sort. After all, why else go to such lengths and all that work in order to hide Mrs. Dermond's body but then leave Mr. Dermond's in full view?

Sheriff Sills is hoping $63,000 in reward money will elicit new information in the hunt for the elderly couple's brutal killers. And hopefully it will. But the unfortunate reality is that it probably will not, unless the murder was committed as an act of passion and the perpetrator's partner in crime was a reluctant assistant after-the-fact, or the murders were a crime of opportunity, and someone who knows about it thinks they will be better off with the money rather than the friendship they have with a killer, especially if they did not participate in the crime.