Polygraph tests have been administered in the search for a Eatonton woman missing since her husband’s decapitated body was found last week, the sheriff leading the investigation said Wednesday.
“I’m still interviewing friends” of Russell and Shirley Dermond, Putnam County Sheriff Howard Sills said. The polygraphs, of maintenance workers with access inside Reynolds Plantation, where the couple lived, turned up nothing new, he said.
Law enforcement officials have been searching for Shirley Dermond, 87, since May 6, after her 88-year-old husband’s body was found in the couple’s garage. Shirley Dermond was nowhere to be found, and her purse, car keys and cell phone were all left behind.
After searches on land and water came up empty, the FBI announced it is offering a $20,000 reward for information leading to Dermond’s recovery.
Deputies and officers from seven local agencies, along with the FBI, continued on Wednesday to search a five-to-six acre plot of vacant land across the street from the Dermonds’ home in Reynolds Plantation.
But Sills said he doesn’t expect them to turn up anything.
“I’ve been confident since last Tuesday that her body was nowhere near the crime scene,” Sills said.
Meanwhile, rangers from the Department of Natural Resources, utilizing a submarine robot, are expected to troll a section of Lake Oconee near the crime scene one more time looking for clues.
Sills said the biggest challenge has been interviewing nervous friends and neighbors of the Dermonds.
“I’ve never dealt with a case where so many people were reluctant to talk,” he said. “They’re reluctant because they’re afraid they’re going to get their heads cut off. There’s a lot of fear.”
The sheriff said he’s been in daily communication with the Dermonds’ two sons, who live in the Jacksonville area, and daughter, who lives near Asheville. Family members returned to their homes last week.
“We don’t have anything to go on,” Sills said.
The FBI reward is for “information leading to the location of Shirley Wilcox Dermond and/or the arrest of the individual(s) responsible for her disappearance,” according to a press release.
Anyone with information about her whereabouts is asked to call the sheriff’s office at 706-485-8557.