Elderly man likely beheaded after being killed, Georgia sheriff says

EATONTON, Ga -- Investigators still have no idea who killed and beheaded 88-year-old Russell Dermond and they have no idea where his 87-year-old wife is.

Putnam County Sheriff Howard Sills said it is the most frustrating homicide he has ever worked because nothing about the case makes sense.

On Thursday, the County Coroner told 11Alive News that Mr. Dermond's death was sudden and he didn't suffer even though he was decapitated.

An autopsy was conducted on Dermond's body at the GBI Crime Lab without his head, which is still missing.

Coroner Gary McElhenney said Dermond died from cerebral cranial trauma. "They found no evidence of any trauma that would be life-threatening, so that eliminated the body," McElhenney said.

The coroner said there are a number of possibilities that could have caused the head trauma, including a gunshot or a blow to the head.

After going over the evidence at the crime scene, McElhenney said he is confident the decapitation was not the cause of his death.

"From where I can see from the evidence, I feel sure he was dead before the head was severed," he said.

Dermond's body was found in the garage of the couple's exclusive home on Lake Oconee Tuesday. The sheriff said the crime happened sometime between Friday and Sunday morning.

Mrs. Dermond's disappearance is still puzzling investigators. Her purse and cell phone were still at her home, and so was her car. There was no sign of a struggle and nothing was taken from the home.

The Sheriff said he has no idea where to look for her and he's losing hope. "I certainly hope that she's still alive but I'm not overly optimistic simply because of her husband," Sills said.

The sheriff said they want to talk to anyone who spoke to the Dermond's in the past week.


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