• Sheriff says polygraph tests being used in Putnam County beheading investigation


    EATONTON, Ga. - Channel 2 investigative reporter Mark Winne spoke one-on-one with Putnam County Sheriff Howard Sills about the latest updates into the case of the decapitation of an elderly man and the beating death of his wife.
    The killings of Russell and Shirley Dermond in early May in their home on Lake Oconee shocked the local community.

    Sills says he and the department is continuing to dig as deep as he can into every detail of the Dermond’s lives.
    Sills said he visited a firm that handled financial investments for the elderly couple and emerged with a computer disk he said he obtained by court order. Only Channel 2 Action News was there as he walked out with the disk.

    "Unfortunately there's usually a monetary angle to most crime," Sills said.

    Sills said he and detectives from his department continue to dog the Dermond case daily, and the FBI and other assisting agencies remain heavily involved. The FBI told Sills an agent would provide a long-awaited phone record analysis related to the case to the sheriff’s office.
    Sills confirmed that a recent polygraph test his office gave a man coming forward with a potential person of interest was not the first polygraph administered in the case.

    "You’ve polygraphed four or five people in the course of the Dermond investigation?" Winne asked.

    "Correct," Sills said.

    "Anybody appear to be lying?" Winne asked.

    "No,' Sills said.

    "What's the general purpose of the polygraphs?"

    "Well, people that worked for the Dermonds, people like that, up until this individual," Sills said.
    The sheriff said the Dermond case continues to be the most frustrating murder probe of dozens he’s worked in a four-decade career.

    He said he still hopes a reward fund, now close to $50,000, will move the needle.
    Sills said the FBI is offering a separate $10,000 reward the bureau controls.

    "Somewhere in their life is the clue that's going to lead us to who killed them," Sills said.
    Russell Dermond, 88, had retired from corporate life -- much of it with clockmaking companies -- in the late 1980s to run a chain of Atlanta-area Hardee's restaurants. About 15 years ago, he and his wife, Shirley, 87, moved to Lake Oconee to live out their years in a golf-course community in a waterfront home.
    The 3,200-square-foot, $1 million home sits in a tree-shrouded cul-de-sac in the Great Waters subdivision, a dozen or so miles northeast of Eatonton.
    Shirley Dermond's body didn't turn up until a week after her husband was found dead. Fishermen found it in the lake, about five miles away by water.
    Autopsies showed that she and her husband died of head wounds, but exactly how they were killed is anyone's guess.

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