PUTNAM COUNTY, Ga. - The sheriff's department in central Georgia said there are few clues in the decapitation of an elderly man and the disappearance of his wife. Deputies fear she might have been abducted from the couple's lakeside home.
Putnam County authorities say they were called to the home of Russell and Shirley Dermond, in the Reynolds Plantation community on Lake Oconee, around 10 a.m. Tuesday.
Sheriff Howard Sills said friends of the Dermonds who had gone to the house found a body believed to be that of 88-year-old Russell Dermond.
A law enforcement source told Channel 2 Action News on Wednesday that Dermond was beheaded and the head was not found at the crime scene.
Putnam County Sheriff Howard Sills confirmed on Thursday and said Mr. Dermond's head had not been located.
Shirley Dermond, 87, was not at the home, and investigators believe she may have been abducted.
Because the neighborhood is so secure, officials say it's possible that someone the Dermonds knew may have committed the crime because there were no signs of forced entry and nothing was taken from the home.
It's also possible the killers entered the home from the lake. Channel 2's Amy Napier Viteri was the only reporter to get a look at the home from the water on Wednesday night.
Sills said they searched the bottom of the lake with advanced sonar and found no sign of either victim.
"I'm not optimistic given the fact of her husband's circumstances, holding out hope for the family," Putnam County Sheriff Howard Sills said.
"We still approach this as if she's been abducted and we pray that she is alive but we don't know anything about where Ms. Dermond is," Sills added.
"My detectives are out right now gathering surveillance video from stores he (the suspect) may have gone to or may not have gone to," Sills said.
Deputies have also gone door-to-door to interview neighbors.
Sills said its very hard to track Dermond because her wallet, cellphone, purse and car were all left behind. They are currently going through financial records for possible leads.
"We don't have anything to track her other than the image of her we've given out for the public to see," Sills said.
Sills said he has not seen a homicide in nearly a decade and there has not been a home invasion in 18 years.
"We've put all of our resources into this, we've been assisted by the FBI," Sills said.
Sills also said they had talked to the Dermond's children and they were extremley cooperative.
Residents told Channel 2 Action News the Dermonds were good people, who moved to the home about 12 years ago after retiring. They retired after owning a chain of fast food restaurants.
The sheriff said the crime happened sometime between Friday and Sunday.
Sheriff Sills asked anyone who has had recent contact with the Dermonds and may have seen or talked to them in the last week to please call the Putnam County Sheriff's Office.