Putnam County Sheriff Howard Sills says he has no solid leads in the murder of an elderly man and his wife's apparent abduction.

At a news conference this afternoon, he said, "If I had a good solid lead, guess what? I wouldn't be standing here talking to y'all."

Sills also said:

  • Russell Dermond was beheaded and that his head has not been found.
  • In answer to a question: "I have no way of knowing at this time if (Dermond) was tortured, or if anybody was tortured. "
  • He did say he was "fairly confident" Dermond's head wasn't severed when he was alive. He said the body was moved a couple of feet after death.
  • He's not sure if the victim's wife, Shirley Dermond, is alive or dead: "I'm certainly hopeful that she's still alive, but I'm not overly optimistic, because of her husband."
  • The couple, married for 68 years, had no apparent enemies. There was nothing in their finances or background to suggest a motive.
  • His department is getting many leads and tips on the case. For example, "We saw a boat at 2 o'clock on the lake" -- not that unusual in a busy fishing area, he said. "We're following up on those."
  • Investigators have interviewed many landscapers and gardeners in the exclusive Great Waters neighborhood in Reynolds Plantation.

Sills would not comment on specific evidence, such as fingerprints in the Dermonds' home or their injuries.

And commenting on community reaction, he said, "I don't care if it's Buckhead or Bangladesh…if you have a crime like this, people are gonna be upset."

Earlier today, Sills said they continue to look for clues in the disappearance of Dermond's wife Shirley, 88, but there's no physical search underway.

The sheriff's office has requested assistance from the FBI.

Earier today, Sills says, at this point, they simply wouldn't know where to look. Investigators have already used sonar to search Lake Oconee and looked in woods near the Dermonds' lakefront home, without success.

Sills told 13WMAZ's Anita Oh that there's no indication that Russell Dermond's head was cut off while he was alive. He also said the house was in "immaculate condition," there were no gunshots or shell casing found. The sheriff also said it's possible Dermond was not killed at the house.

The couple's bank account shows no financial trouble, Sills said.

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He said they're still appealing to the public for clues in the case.

Shirley Dermond has been missing since at least Tuesday morning.

Sills says he wants to refute rumors going around town that her body has also been found.

That's not true, he said, and they still believe the woman was abducted. That's why his office has asked the FBI to help with the case, he said.

Anyone with information on the case can call the Putnam sheriff's office at (706) 485-8557.

On Thursday, FBI spokesman Stephen Emmett in Atlanta confirmed that the agency is involved.

He said, "I can confirm that the FBI is assisting in providing limited support, based on the needs and the requests of Putnam County." But he would not discuss the case further. He referred further questions on the matter to Putnam County.

Putnam Coroner Gary McElhenney said Wednesday night that Dermond, 88, was found beheaded Tuesday

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