The Case of Russell and Shirley Dermond, an Elderly Couple Brutally Murdered in Their Own Home

Picture of Russell and Shirley Dermond. (Image credit source here.)

Picture of Russell and Shirley Dermond. (Image source/credit here.)

88-year-old Russell Dermond and his 87-year-old wife Shirley lived in a $769,000 two-story lake home in the gated community of Great Waters, Georgia. Russell and Shirley were both from New Jersey, but had moved to Great Waters in the late 1990s. They were well-liked by their neighbors, and there was nothing particularly unusual about them. Shirley enjoyed spending her time playing bridge and going to church, and Russell liked to play golf.

On May 3, 2014, the Dermonds were invited to a Kentucky Derby party held by some friends in the neighborhood. Despite earlier saying they would show up, they never made it. Nobody had seen Shirley since the 1st, when she was playing at a bridge club. Russell was spotted at a grocery store that day, and had been seen on a golf course on the 2nd.

The Dermond home. (Image source/credit here.)

The Dermond home. (Image source/credit here.)

On the morning of May 6, after not hearing from the Dermonds for a couple of days, the couple that had thrown the derby party went to their house and found their front door unlocked. There was no immediate sign of the couple, and everything in the house seemed to be in its usual place. After looking through the house, the husband decided to try the Dermonds’ garage. In between the two cars stored there, he found Russell’s body, decapitated and with his head nowhere in sight.

By the time police arrived, there was still no trace of Shirley. Authorities suspected that she had been abducted, but had little hope that she was still alive. On May 16, Shirley’s body was found floating facedown in the near-by lake by two fisherman at a spot about 5 miles away from her home. Her killer had tied her body down with a pair of 30 pound concrete blocks.

The back of the Dermond Home. (Image source/ credit here.)

The back of the Dermond home. (Image source/ credit here.)

According to forensic tests, Shirley had been beaten on the head with something like a hammer. She had been tossed into the lake after she died. The cause of Russell’s death is still undetermined. Without his head, it’s been difficult to figure out how exactly he died. He’s believed to have been beheaded, possibly with a knife, only after he was murdered.

While the Dermonds had no known enemies, that’s not to say that the family hadn’t experienced trouble before. Their son, Mark, had been shot to death on his 47th birthday while buying crack cocaine in 2000. While Mark’s killer was caught, nobody associated with him has been suspected of his parents’ murder. Investigators have poured over the Dermonds’ relatives and friends, even collecting phone conversations and information from their college days, but have yet to find anybody with a possible grudge against them.

Putnam County sheriff Howard Sills, the man in charge of the Dermond case. (Picture credit source here.)

Putnam County sheriff Howard Sills, the man in charge of the Dermond case. (Picture source/credit here here.)

Due to the savage nature of the attacks, the sheriff in charge of the case believes that the Dermonds were murdered by somebody they knew. He’s suggested that the killer came to the house by car or boat. How exactly they got into the house is uncertain. While nothing was missing, the intruder could have demanded something that the Dermonds didn’t have. Rather than the work of a single person, there might have been multiple people involved. An unidentified man was seen on the lawn of the Dermond home around the time of their deaths, but authorities have declined to say anything more than that the man is a person of interest.

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The Aliens that Waved Back

gill

Picture of Rev. William Booth Gill from a TV interview available on Youtube.

On the evening of June 26, 1959, an Anglican missionary named Rev. William Booth Gill was walking out of his house in Boainai, Papua New Guinea when he noticed a bright sparkling object in the sky. For the next four hours, Rev. Gill took notes and watched the light with more than 30 other witnesses. When it disappeared after 45 minutes, it came back with three smaller objects an hour later. This “mothership” flashed a blue light from the center of its deck, and the object was so close that Rev. Gill and the other observers could see four figures on top of it. By 11 PM, the ships had vanished, and a heavy rain began to fall from the sky.

The next night, Rev. Gill and some other missionaries saw the mothership near the same location of the first sighting, along with two other smaller UFOs. The four figures on top were again visible, and when Rev. Gill waved to one of the them, the figure waved back. Ananias Rarata, a native schoolteacher, began to wave too, and all four of the figures waved back for the next couple of minutes until they decided to go below deck. After a half hour, Rev. Gill left to go to dinner, and the other observers left to go to church. Nobody saw the UFOs for the rest of the evening, although there was an inexplicable explosion sound heard around 10:40 PM.

(Picture source/credit here.)

(Picture source/credit here.)

Rev. Gill’s sightings caused a lot of excitement in Australia. The Victorian Flying Saucer Research Society thought Rev. Gill’s detailed reports were final proof that UFOs existed. The members of Australia’s federal parliament all received copies of Rev. Gill’s report, and the government launched an investigation to determine what exactly Rev. Gill had seen.

The official conclusion was that Rev. Gill was a “reliable observer”, but that the incidents were probably nothing more than “natural phenomenon coloured by past events and subconscious influences of UFO enthusiasts.” Doubters thought that the objects were Jupiter, Saturn, and Mars, and the “human shapes” were explained as “various cloud densities”.

(Picture source/credit here.)

(Picture source credit here.)

Others thought Rev. Gill had made the story up entirely. Dr. Donald H. Menzel, a Harvard astronomer and notable UFO debunker, accused Gill of manipulating the testimony the “uneducated” natives had given. He also thought Rev. Gill wasn’t wearing his glasses at the time, and claimed that the position of Venus was left unmentioned in Gill’s reports. J. Allen Hynek, another astronomer and the head of the Center for UFO Studies, rebuked Menzel, and noted that Rev. Gill was wearing his glasses at the time and had, in fact, identified Venus in his reports.

Before his sightings, Rev. Gill initially considered himself a skeptic. There had been sightings of strange lights across Papua New Guinea since the past year, some of which had been reported by missionaries. In a letter written the day before his first sighting (but never seen sent), Rev. Gill told his friend Rev. David Durie that he believed UFOs were “more likely some form of electric phenomena- or something brought about by the atom bomb explosions etc.”

After a lifetime of teaching and traveling, Rev. Gill passed away at the age of 79 on June 13, 2007.

6 Downright Weird Cases of People Lying About Their Ethnicity

Rachel Dolezal, an “African-American” civil rights activist provoked a media firestorm in June 2015 when she was revealed to actually be a white woman. Dolezal had been practicing what is called “passing”, a sort of phenomenon when a person lies about their ethnicity or racial origins for monetary gain, social acceptance, or economic advancement. While Dolezal’s case caused a huge sensation, passing isn’t actually that uncommon, and there have been numerous cases of it across history and different ethnic groups.

6. Hans Gunther Hauck

Tatunca Nara in a 1990 documentary. (Image source here.)

Tatunca Nara in a 1990 documentary. (Image source here.)

Tatunca Nara has been saying for almost half a century that he’s the chief of an Amazonian tribe called the Ugha Mongulala. Nara claims that the Ugha Mongulala live in an underground city called Akakor, and despite his stories being believed and endorsed by professional ancient aliens scholar Erich von Daniken, no records of the tribe or city exist. Still, that hasn’t stopped people from seeking out Nara and asking for tours and more information about the great ancient culture of the Ugha Mongulala.

Nara, however, isn’t even a Brazilian Indian. He was exposed more than two decades ago as a white guy named Hans Gunther Hauck. Hauck disappeared from Germany in 1966, leaving his wife and three children behind. Tatunca Nara started popping up in the late 1960s, spreading his story as listeners presumably overlooked his white skin and strong accent. In an interview with Der Spiegel in 2014, Nara denied being Hauck, and also disputed having anything to do with the disappearances of three Western tourists who were last seen traveling with him. (He’s also been accused of having a role in the murder of Karl Brugger, an author of a book about Akakor.) 

5. Bruno Grosjean

(Image source here.)

(Image source here.)

Latvian-Jew and concentration camp survivor Binjamin Wilkomirski published his childhood memoir about the Holocaust, Fragments: Memories of a Childhood (1939-1948) in 1995 to great acclaim. The book was quickly translated into 12 different languages, won several prestigious awards, and was a phenomenal commercial success. Critics and historians championed it a masterpiece, describing it as “achingly beautiful” and “one of the great works about the Holocaust”. Wilkomirski toured all over the world, tearfully telling audiences about the horrific experiences he had endured, including watching rats eat corpses at Auschwitz and witnessing mere babies waste away and die.

One Swiss Jewish journalist named Daniel Ganzfried, however, wasn’t convinced. He suspected Wilkomirski of making the story up, and he ended up launching an investigation that would debunk the entire book and even its author himself. Wilkomirski, Ganzfried discovered, was never interred in any concentration camps. He wasn’t even Jewish or Latvian. Binjamin Wilkomirski was actually Bruno Grosjean, a Christian Swiss orphan who was adopted by a wealthy and loving Swiss family named the Dössekkers. Sure enough, despite that he was now completely discredited, Grosjean continued to insist that he was Binjamin Wilkomirski. His “memoir” has since been taken off the market.

4. Walter Francis White

(Image source here.)

(Image source here.)

Walter Francis White was a blue-eyed, blonde-haired leader of the National Association for Colored People from 1929 until his death in 1955. He was born in 1893 to a couple of former slaves who had a great amount of white ancestry. However, the family counted themselves as black, and White always considered himself black, especially after a white mob attacked the family’s house during the Atlanta Race Riot of 1906.

White graduated from the historically black Atlanta University in 1916, and helped create the Atlanta branch of the NAACP the same year. He then became one of the country’s most prominent civil rights activists, even befriending Eleanor Roosevelt and persuading Harry Truman to become the first president to speak at the NAACP’s meetings.

During the late 1910s and 1920s, White would also go undercover as a white man to investigate lynchings and race riots in the south. He would infiltrate racist groups and interview members of lynch members. Over some ten years, he investigated 41 lynchings and 8 race riots. Articles about his field studies were published in such prestigious papers as the Nation, the New Republic, and the New York Herald Tribune, bringing awareness to racial violence to tens of thousands of white readers.

3. Anatole Broyard

(Image source here.)

(Image source here.)

After influential literary critic Anatole Broyard was diagnosed with prostate cancer and lying on his deathbed, his wife thought now would be the time to tell their children about a secret he had kept closely hidden all his adult life. Broyard wasn’t a completely white man; the family was, in fact, descended from mixed-race Louisiana Creoles. He had been passing for white for nearly fifty years. The aunts and grandma he wanted his children to have nothing to do with turned out to be black in appearance.

Broyard’s daughter, Bliss, was so fascinated and surprised by the news that she researched and wrote a book about the family’s history, One Drop: My Father’s Hidden Life- A Story of Race and Family Secrets. While researching, she uncovered a lot about her father the public and literary scene never knew.

Broyard was born in New Orleans in 1920, but his parents later moved the family up north to New York when he was 7-years-old. Both of them would pass for white when looking for work. Broyard appeared to have started passing for white when he entered college. During World War II, he enlisted as a white man and held the position of an officer in charge of black stevedores

After his service, he returned to New York and became active in Greenwich Village, where he embarked on a literary career and made friends with a number of the most notable artists, Beats, and hipsters of the day. While he did tell a few close friends about his heritage, he mostly kept it to himself. It’s possible that he was motivated to identify as white to avoid being pigeon-holed as a black writer. According to historian Henry Louis Gates Jr., Broyard “did not want to write about black love, black passion, black suffering, black joy; he wanted to write about love and passion and suffering and joy.”

2. Mark Stebbins

(Image source here.)

(Image source here.)

In 1983, a light-skinned, blue-eyed man named Mark Stebbins ran for City Council in Stockton, California, claiming himself to be a black candidate. One of his opponents, a black civil rights activist and millionaire named Ralph Lee White, angrily disputed this. White obtained a copy of Stebbins’ birth certificate, which listed his parents as white, and soon the whole town and press were debating his true race. The Stockton Record uncovered the birth certificates of all four of his grandparents, and found that they were listed as white too.

Stebbins eventually admitted that his grandparents, parents, and six siblings were white, but he insisted that he was black. After all, he had a black wife and a black barber, and was a member of the NAACP and a black church.

Stebbins ended up winning the election, but White demanded a recall. He eventually got one the next year, beating Stebbins by 67 votes. White was, however, removed from the council by a California appeals court in 1987 for “committing acts of bribery, fraud, and coercion in the casting of some absentee ballots.”

Now 72-years-old, Mark Stebbins still maintains that he is black. “The idea of race has never had any scientific validity,” he said in a June 2015 interview. “… it’s a widely held belief that really doesn’t exist, except as a belief.” White, for his part, now believes that Stebbins can be considered culturally African-American, but not racially black.

1. Lawrence Dennis

(Image source here.)

(Image source here.)

In 1941, Life magazine called former diplomat and intellectual Lawrence Dennis “America’s number one intellectual fascist”. Dennis had first achieved notoriety in the early 1930s with a book and a series of articles in the New Republic criticizing capitalism and advocating that America stop intervening in the economic affairs of its Latin American neighbors to focus on itself.

While his work was initially praised by leftists and even Marxists, Dennis began to hang around white supremacists and the far-right, even traveling to Germany and Italy to meet Nazi officials and Il Duce himself. His 1936 book The Coming American Fascism warned that a fascist system in America was inevitable, and that only the ideas of Hitler and Mussolini could solve the country’s economic crisis.

During World War II, Dennis was accused and put on trial for allegedly plotting against the American government. While he was found innocent, his reputation was ruined, and he spent the last three decades of his life in obscurity before he died in 1977. There has been some interest in him since his death, especially since it’s now come to light that he was actually half-black. Dennis was originally named “Lonnie Lawrence Dennis”, the adopted son of a mulatto couple and biological son of a black woman and white man.

As a child, he toured the Jim Crow South as “The Mulatto Boy Evangelist” along with his mother, even doing a stint in Europe for a while. Around 1913, Dennis quit preaching and cut off all ties to his black relatives to attend the elite Exeter Academy, and later Harvard. His classmates and later fascist friends and allies had no idea about his racial origins, although Charles Lindbergh once remarked that he believed some of his friend’s ancestors “might have come from the near east”.

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The Case of Timmothy Pitzen, a Missing Boy Whose Mother’s Suicide Note Promised He Would Never Be Found

Picture of Timmothy Pitzen and his mother Amy. (Image credit here.)

Picture of Timmothy Pitzen and his mother Amy. (Image credit here.)

On May 11, 2011, Amy Fry-Pitzen picked her 6-year-old son Timmothy up from his kindergarten class at Greenman Elementary School in Aurora, Illinois. It was only 8:35 AM, but Amy said that the boy had to leave early because of a family emergency. When Amy’s husband and Timmothy’s father James arrived at the school to pick Timmothy up at the usual time, he was surprised to hear that Amy had already gotten Timmothy. As he told school officials, he didn’t know of any family emergency. He tried calling Amy afterward, but she never picked up her phone.

Surveillance footage of Amy and Timmothy leaving his school. (Image credit here.)

Surveillance footage of Amy and Timmothy leaving his school. (Image credit here.)

Two days after Amy and Timmothy disappeared, Amy used her cellphone to call some of her friends and family to tell them that she and her son were okay. Timmothy was heard in the background by a few of the callers, and some of them even had a conversation with him. The same night, Amy checked into a motel in Illinois by herself. Her body was found dead the next afternoon by hotel employees.

Amy had slashed her wrists and taken a fatal dose of antihistamines. No trace of Timmothy was anywhere to be found, and Amy’s cellphone was also missing.  A suicide note Amy left behind promised that Timmothy was safe with people who would take care of him, but claimed that he would never be found. While investigators found a stain of Timmothy’s blood in Amy’s SUV, they weren’t sure how old it was. Relatives said it was probably from a nosebleed the boy had more than a year before.

Amy Fry-Pitzen's SUV. (Image credit here.)

Amy Fry-Pitzen’s SUV. (Image credit here.)

From eyewitness reports and surveillance footage, we know that Amy and Timmothy went to a car repair shop after Amy had gotten him from school. They went to the zoo as they waited for the car to get fixed, and then Amy drove them to the KeyLime Cove Resort. In the morning, they went to another resort, this time in Wisconsin. They stayed the night there, and Timmothy was seen in line with Amy when she checked out around 10 AM. Amy made her phone calls at 1:30 PM, but was seen shopping back in Illinois around 7 PM. She checked into the Rockford Inn around 11 PM, the last time she was seen alive.

Surveillance footage of Amy walking into a store a few hours before her death. (Image credit here.)

Surveillance footage of Amy walking into a store a few hours before her death. (Image credit here.)

While Amy suffered from depression and had once made a suicide attempt before, her family and friends don’t believe that she had any reason to hurt Timmothy. Police suspect that the whole affair had been planned, and Amy had traveled to a few of the spots included in her trip a few months before her death.

(The left picture is of Timmothy before his disappearance. The right is an age-progression picture of what Timmothy might look like as a 10-year-old. (Image credit here.)

(The left picture is of Timmothy before his disappearance. The right is an age-progression picture of what Timmothy might look like as a 10-year-old. (Image credit here.)

In October 2013, Amy’s phone was turned into police by a woman who had found it along a road in Illinois 2 years earlier. The phone, however, contained no further clues, and a search of the area where it was found turned up nothing. A review of her phone records and emails have shown that Amy wasn’t in contact with anybody who her family was unfamiliar with. While there have been unconfirmed sightings of Timmothy since his disappearance, there is a bleak suspicion that Amy might have lied about his whereabouts and committed suicide after killing him.

Gonzalo Guerrero and Geronimo de Aguilar, Two Spanish Men who Were Captured by the Mayans

Statue of Gonzalo Guerrero. (Image source here.)

Statue of Gonzalo Guerrero. (Image source here.)

Gonzalo Guerreo was a soldier from Spain who had come to the New World in hope of becoming a conquistador. His life, however, ended up taking a completely different turn when he became stuck on the Yucatan Peninsula after a shipwreck in 1511. Guerrero and the rest of the survivors, including a priest named Geronimo de Aguilar, were captured by a Mayan tribe and forced to become slaves.

Eventually, all of the captives except Aguilar and Guerreo died. Both of the men assimilated into the local culture and learned the Mayan language, although Aguilar was reluctant to abandon his Spanish roots. He continued to practice his priestly duties, and refused to marry or sleep with any Mayan women. The tribe’s leader, amused by the faithful priest’s chastity, put Aguilar in charge of his harem.

Picture of Geronimo de Aguilar. (Image source here.)

Picture of Geronimo de Aguilar. (Image source here.)

Guerrero, on the other hand, was eager to adopt every aspect of Mayan life. He was well-respected by his captors, and especially impressed their leader Nachan Can. After Guerrero became a free man, Nachan Can made him an army captain and gave Guerrero his daughter’s hand in marriage. The couple had three sons, possibly the first mixed-race children born in the Americas.

Hernan Cortes, while passing through the area in 1519, learned about the two white men and sent them a letter. Aguilar was eager to leave and reached Cortes’ ship by paddling a canoe. Because he was wearing Mayan clothes, Cortes was skeptical that Aguilar was a Spaniard. In a language he hadn’t used in years and years, Aguilar suddenly shouted in Spanish and was then let on board. To avoid any conflict, Cortes bought Aguilar off the Indians for only a couple of glass beads.

Gonzalo Guerrero meeting with Hernan Cortes. (Image source here.)

Gonzalo Guerrero meeting with Hernan Cortes. (Image source here.)

Guerrero, content with his new life, refused to go back to the Spanish forces. He said that he was happy living with the Mayans, and loved his children and wife far too much to leave them. When his fellow Spaniards started their conquest of the Americas, Guerrero fought against them in several military campaigns and ultimately died on the battlefield. His former countrymen condemned him as a traitor, and he languished in obscurity for several centuries until he was reappraised by Mexican intellectuals in the late 20th century.

With the help of Geronimo de Aguilar, Cortes now had the service of a translator. Shortly afterward, to add to his luck, he was given a young female slave named Malinche by the Tabascan Indians. Malinche could speak both Mayan and Nahuatl, the language of the Aztec Empire. She could translate what she heard in Nahuatl into Mayan, which Aguilar could then translate into Spanish for Cortes.

After the Conquest of the Aztecs, Aguilar finally gave in and married an indigenous woman named Elvira Toznenetzin. They had two daughters, and Aguilar is believed to have died sometime in 1531.

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