Sheriff looks to cases in other states for answers in couple's killing

PUTNAM COUNTY, Ga. — It's the most puzzling homicide of Putnam County Sheriff Howard Sills' career.%



It's been two years since he got the call to a house on Lake Oconee, where the decapitated body of 88-year-old Russell Dermond was discovered in his garage.

His wife Shirley’s body was found days later, nearly 6 miles from the couples’ lakefront property, floating in the lake with concrete blocks tied to her legs.

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"Hardly a week goes by that we're not doing something related to this case," Sills said.

Sills told Channel 2’s Liz Artz that the unsolved murders remain his top priority and recent incidents in other states have given him a new focus.

Sills said incidents from New York to Texas have piqued his interest to the point where he's dropped everything and contacted investigators there.

"It did happen on or about the same day two years later -- a case where the head was taken and not at the scene," Sills said.

He's been on the phone with Texas investigators for the past several days.

“We compared notes. I actually sent autopsy pictures there so their (medical examiner) would have it there," Sills told Artz.

During the interview, Sills talked about a case in New York in which a woman who owned multiple fast-food restaurants, just as the Dermonds did, was found beaten to death.

"The wife was murdered, not the husband, and their home was in an exclusive neighborhood. That didn't pan out to be," Sills said.

The sheriff has chased dozens of leads since May 2014. He's ruled out the family, and a serial killer is possible but unlikely, he said. Sills said it'll be a tip that solves this crime.

"We desperately need someone to tell us who did this or at least point us in the right direction -- a street to go down -- and we'll take it from there," Sills said.

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