Putnam Coroner Lists Cause of Death for Reynolds Plantation Man

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By WGXA Staff

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Updated: Fri, 09 May 2014 11:07:22 EST

The Putnam County Coroner's office released the cause of death Friday morning for the decapitated man's body found in the garage of his home on Lake Oconee.

Coroner Gary McElhenney labeled the cause of death as cranial cerebral trauma. He said there was no sign of trauma to the body of 88-year-old Russell Dermond, leaving authorities to assume the missing head held the clue to the man's death.

McElhenney said investigators do not expect results of toxicology tests conducted on the body for several weeks.

The Putnam County Sheriff admitted Thursday afternoon that investigators remain without clues in the brutal murder and decapitation of the Reynolds Plantation man and the disappearance of his 87-year-old wife.

Dermond's headless body was discovered Tuesday by neighbors on the floor of his garage. His wife, Shirley Dermond has not been located. Nothing in the house appeared to be missing.

Sheriff Howard Sills held a press conference to announce the autopsy was continuing at the GBI Crime Lab in Atlanta but that a cause of death had not been determined. That could be because Dermond's head was not found with the body.

Sills said the time of death ranged from late Friday to early Sunday in the million-dollar home in the exclusive gated community along the shores of Lake Oconee.

Authorities searched both the lake and the woods surrounding the house without finding any sign of Shirley Dermond or Dermond's head.

Sills said the Dermond's three adult children have been cleared of any role in the killing and disappearance. He said investigators are without a clue in the disappearance or location of Mrs. Dermond.

Friend and neighbors of Russell and Shirley Dermond told WGXA Wednesday they were shocked at news of the murder and suspected kidnapping in Putnam County.

Deputies responded to the luxury home of Russell and Shirley Dermond in the exclusive, gated Great Waters Community on Lake Oconee around 10 a.m. Tuesday.

Russell was described by neighbors as a familiar face in the community, and many were surprised that he was 88 years old. He could frequently be seen walking through the neighborhood or fishing on the lake.

Mrs. Dermond is described as a 87-year-old white female, 5-foot-2 and about 148 pounds. Shirley has grey hair and blue eyes.

Anyone who may have seen Shirley Dermond, or anyone with any information that may be related to this case, is urged to call the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office at (706) 485-8557.

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