Body of missing Putnam County woman found on Lake Oconee - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Body of missing Putnam County woman found on Lake Oconee

A woman's body was found in Lake Oconee Friday afternoon. Putnam County Sheriff Howard Sills said he believes it is the body of 87-year-old Shirley Dermond.

"We physically recovered the body of a female," Sills said. "Do I know for certain that this is the body of Shirley Dermond? I do not. I can't say that with 100 percent certainty. But, it does fit the physical description of her, the hair color, as well as some surgical scars I was aware of.  So, I am fairly confident this is the body of Mrs. Dermond."

He also said the time authorities believe her body was in the lake is consistent with the timing of when her husband was killed a few weeks ago.

Her husband, 88-year-old Russell Dermond, was found with his head cut off. Authorities said it is possible that the victims knew the attacker.

Since then, the Department of Natural Resources, along with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Putnam County deputies have been searching the area near the Dermond's lakefront home.

Shirley Dermond was found by two fishermen around 2:30 p.m., in roughly 50 feet of water.  Her badly decomposed body, according to Sills, showed no obvious signs of trauma. Dermond was partially submerged. Sills would not comment on whether any attempt was made to weigh down the body.

"I will not get into anything that could jeopardize the investigation," Sills said. 

Investigators continue to search for the person/s responsible for these gruesome murders.  Friday's discovery was made five to six miles from the Dermond's home, which leads Sills to believe the suspect used a boat to commit the crime. After her husband's murder Sills said she had to have been driven out to the middle of the lake on the boat and dumped given the distance.

Sills said he did not want to speculate on the motives for who did this. But, he did say one thing is clear.

"I can tell you the mindset of the individual who did this, was a homicidal individual that doesn't deserve to breath the air on this earth," Sills said.

A $20,000 reward remains for information leading to an arrest. The FBI will continue to assist in the investigation. 

Shirley Dermond's body was taken to the GBI crime lab for an autopsy and forensic analysis.

Copyright 2014 WGCL-TV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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