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Suspect in brutal murder in custody in S.C.

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Putnam man’s body found dismembered in Hancock Co.

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    The Georgia Bureau of Investigation responded to the scene of a murder in Devereux, which is in Hancock County. CONTRIBUTED/GBI
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    Christopher Demmon

An Eatonton man was brutally murdered in a neighboring county, and the man accused of killing him was randomly captured later in a neighboring state, according to authorities.

On Friday, June 4, Hancock County Sheriff Terrell Primus requested the Georgia Bureau of Investigation’s assistance regarding a body that was found in the yard of a residence on Main Street in; and on June 8, the GBI identified the deceased victim as 29-year-old Justin Yeng Xiong, of Eatonton, according to GBI Public Affairs Director Nelly Miles and Public Affairs Deputy Director Natalie Ammons.

Putnam County Sheriff Howard Sills said he was notified early Saturday morning, June 5, that a dismembered body had been found wrapped in plastic on Main Street in Devereux. Sills noted that he is interested in and receives such information because of his only unsolved murders in Putnam County, Russell and Shirley Dermond, who were killed in May 2014. Mr. Dermond’s body was found decapitated, so anytime a body is found dismembered anywhere in the country, Sills checks into the case for possible leads or connections to the Dermond case.

So, Sills called Primus, who told him they were looking for a yellow Jeep because they believed the Jeep belonged to the victim and the suspect was driving it. The GBI had issued a lookout on Friday night for a yellow Jeep with a temporary Indiana tag, Sills said. Primus told Sills that Xiong had been living in the house where the dismembered body was found, which at that time, had not yet been identified. Primus had said Xiong’s Jeep was gone, and Xiong’s brother lives in Indiana, “so that explained the tag,” Sills said.

Meanwhile, Eatonton Acting Police Chief Howell Cardwell said he received a phone call from Investigator James Criscillis of South Carolina’s Aiken County Sheriff’s Office. Criscillis wanted Eatonton Police officers to go to a house on Bumgarner Drive to talk to Xiong about his Jeep, which had been pulled over in a traffic stop in Aiken, and a chainsaw in the back that was covered in blood. Cardwell told the Lake Oconee News that Xiong’s family members lived in the Bumgarner Drive house, and although Xiong had lived there in the past, Cardwell was not sure where he presently lived.

“Of course I knew what was going on with him, so I called the GBI and told them about the Aiken investigator’s call,” Cardwell said, noting he did not send officers to the Eatonton house but left that to the state investigators.

On Saturday, June 5, the GBI obtained an arrest warrant for Christopher Collins Demmon, age 33, on charges of malice murder in connection to the death of Xiong, according to Miles, who said Demmon was at that time in custody in Aiken County, S.C. and will be brought to Hancock County.