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Autopsy: Elderly Ga. man was dead before head was severed

ATLANTA - Authorities say an autopsy showed an 88-year-old Georgia man was already dead when his head was cut off.

Putnam County Deputy Coroner Marcus Turner says authorities believe Russell Dermond died of a head or brain injury.

Shirley Dermond CBS Atlanta
Friends found his body Tuesday in the garage of his Lake Oconee home.

His 87-year-old wife, Shirley Dermond, wase nowhere to be found, and investigators fear Shirley Dermond was abducted. They are searching for her with the help of the FBI.

Authorities have said they believe the crimes took place sometime between Friday and Saturday.

Sheriff Howard Sills said during a news conference Thursday that the woman's purse, cellphone and the couple's car were still at the house in the gated community.

Sills says the home showed no signs of a struggle or forced entry and no ransom note was left behind. He does not believe the killing was random but said the couple had no known enemies and no questionable financial dealings, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

The couple had reportedly owned several fast-food chains before they retired about 20 years ago.

"Quite candidly, this is the most baffling case we've ever worked on," Sheriff Sills said during a press conference Thursday, reports the paper.

The community where the couple lived is guarded by a gate and security officers. Sills has said authorities are investigating whether the attacker may have approached the couple's home by boat.

Crews have searched part of the lake with sonar devices but haven't found anything, the sheriff said.

Anyone who has had recent contact with the couple is asked to call the Putnam County Sheriff's Office.

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