Murder of Jennifer Dulos

Jennifer Dulos (née Farber; born September 27, 1968; presumed dead May 24, 2019; ruled legally dead October 24, 2023) was an American woman who went missing on May 24, 2019. Authorities believe that she was killed in an attack at her home in New Canaan, Connecticut, United States. Her ex-husband, Fotis Dulos, and his girlfriend, Michelle Troconis, were arrested on charges of tampering with evidence and hindering prosecution in connection with Jennifer's disappearance. Later, the two – along with Fotis's attorney Kent Mawhinney – faced additional charges related to Jennifer's murder.

Murder of Jennifer Dulos
A smiling Caucasian woman with shoulder-length brown hair
DateMay 24, 2019 (2019-05-24)
TimeApproximately 8:15 a.m. (EDT)
LocationNew Canaan, Connecticut, United States
Coordinates41°07′51″N 73°30′49″W / 41.1308°N 73.5136°W / 41.1308; -73.5136
TypeUxoricide
MotiveEnd divorce and child-custody proceedings
PerpetratorFotis Dulos (believed)
Arrests3
AccusedFotis Dulos, Michelle Troconis, and Kent Mawhinney
ConvictedTroconis
ChargesEvidence tampering, hindering prosecution, capital murder, murder, conspiracy to commit murder
Trial2024 (Troconis)
VerdictGuilty
ConvictionsAll charges

Fotis died by suicide in January 2020. Troconis was convicted of the six charges against her in March 2024.[1] Mawhinney is awaiting trial.[2]

Jennifer and Fotis were in the midst of a contentious divorce and child-custody proceedings.[3] Police believe Fotis lay in wait for Jennifer, attacking her when she returned home after dropping her children off at school. In the evening, he and Troconis drove to Hartford to dispose of garbage bags containing items with Jennifer's blood on them. Police further allege that Mawhinney conspired with Fotis and Troconis.

Background edit

Jennifer Farber Dulos (September 27, 1968 – c. May 24, 2019) was born in New York City to Gloria Ortenberg and Hilliard Farber, a banker and philanthropist respectively. She has an older sister, Melissa Irene Farber.[4] Jennifer's maternal uncle and aunt-by-marriage, Elizabeth Claiborne and Arthur Ortenberg, founded the fashion company Liz Claiborne Inc.[5] Jennifer graduated from Brown University in 1990 and later earned a master's degree in writing from New York University Tisch School of the Arts. A stay-at-home mother, Jennifer made her living as a writer for Patch.com and also ran her own blog.[citation needed]

Fotis Dulos (August 6, 1967 – January 30, 2020) was born in Turkey and grew up in Athens, Greece, moving to the U.S. in 1986. He graduated from Brown as well in 1989, and later earned an MBA in finance from Columbia Business School. Fotis married Hilary Vanessa Aldama, also a Brown graduate, in Athens in June 2000. The marriage lasted four years. That year Dulos founded Fore Group Inc., a real estate development company based in Connecticut, specializing in luxury homes[6]

Dulos started emailing Farber, whom he had also met at Brown, while still with his first wife. They married in Manhattan just over a month after Dulos' divorce, and subsequently moved to Farmington, Connecticut.[7] They had five children together, including two sets of twins, all named after Greek Orthodox saints – three sons: Petros, Theodore, and Constantine; and two daughters: Christiane and Cleopatra Noelle.[8][9]

In a 2012 blog post, Jennifer alluded to trouble in her marriage: "I wish I were a strong person and that confrontation did not both scare and appall me."[10] After the gradual breakdown of the marriage, in which Jennifer claimed Fotis was living an increasingly independent life, she filed for divorce in 2017, at Superior Court in Stamford. That same month she rented a house in New Canaan,[11] about 70 mi (110 km) southwest of Farmington, and moved there with the children.[12]

In her divorce filings, Jennifer wrote: "I know that filing for divorce, and filing this motion will enrage him. I know he will retaliate by trying to harm me in some way." She also stated she believed he was having an affair with his colleague, Michelle Troconis, a native of Venezuela.[6] Jennifer also alleged that Fotis had threatened to kidnap their children if she did not agree to his terms in the divorce settlement, and that he had bought a gun that year; Fotis denied making threats and claimed he bought the gun legally for home security.[13] Both parents filed numerous motions claiming that the other was disparaging them.[14]

Jennifer had requested an emergency order of custody while the couple were given temporary joint custody of their children until the end of the divorce proceedings.[15] When Jennifer again requested an emergency order of custody in early 2018, the judge found that Fotis had violated several court orders. In March of that year Jennifer was awarded sole physical custody, while both parents were to share joint legal custody. Fotis was granted supervised visitation and monitored phone calls.[16]

In February 2018, after Jennifer's father's death, Gloria Farber, Jennifer's mother, sued Fotis for unpaid loans. She claimed he owed them $1.7 million loaned to him by his father-in-law Hilliard Farber.[17]

Disappearance edit

Jennifer was last seen at around 8 a.m. on May 24, 2019, when she dropped her children off at New Canaan Country School, and then at 8:05 on a neighbor's security camera returning home.[18] The same day, she missed two doctors' appointments that she had scheduled for 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. in New York City. Later that evening, at around 7 p.m., two of her friends, including her nanny Lauren Almeida, reported her missing after they failed to get in contact with her. Family and friends of Jennifer stated that it would be out of character for her to leave home on her own without telling anyone.[4]

Almeida, who had arrived at the house at 11:30 a.m. that day, later told detectives she was surprised to see Jennifer's Range Rover in the garage because she had planned to take it to her doctors' appointments instead of her Chevrolet Suburban, which was missing.[19] When detectives searched the house, they found blood spatter on the floor, door and a wall in the garage, as well as on the exterior of the Range Rover. Blood was also found in the kitchen. DNA tests revealed most of the blood to be Jennifer's, apart from blood on the kitchen faucet, a mixture belonging to both her and Fotis.[19] Police also found other evidence of Jennifer being the victim of a serious assault.

Jennifer's Chevrolet Suburban had been captured on the neighbor's security camera leaving her home at around 10:25 a.m. that morning. According to authorities, Fotis was the one driving the victim's vehicle, carrying the body of Jennifer and other items associated with the probable cleanup.[20] That same evening, at around 7:30 p.m., Fotis and Troconis were captured on video dumping garbage bags in thirty bins in Hartford.[21] The trash bags were found to contain various pieces of bloodied clothing and bloodstained cleaning items. The blood was found to be that of Jennifer. Fotis' DNA was found on the inside of a glove in one of the trash bags, and on one of them. The Suburban was later found at the side of a road near Waveny Park in New Canaan, just over three miles (4.8 km) away from her home.[22]

Police searched numerous properties in and around Farmington, in Fairfield County, and near Fotis's home without success. Investigators believe he arrived by bike at Jennifer's home due to tire marks found and other evidence. Fotis is believed to have lain in wait for her to return, and killed her in the garage.[6] Helicopters, canine units and divers were used to look for signs of Jennifer. There has been no activity on her credit cards and no calls made from her cell phone since she disappeared.[22]

In January 2021, the Connecticut State Police visited property on Mountain Spring Road in Farmington, which was once owned by Fotis's real estate company, to follow up on "old leads". Several authorities could be seen behind the property digging up the yard. Police also brought in Bob Perry, an expert at finding unmarked gravesites, though he would not say if anything had been discovered. The next day, police returned to the property with an excavator and a septic tank. Police told the media afterward they did not have any updates.[citation needed]

Jennifer's body has not been found.[23] In October 2020, her family sought to have her declared legally dead; the request was denied five months later as the seven-year deadline required under Connecticut law since she was last known to have been alive had not elapsed. But in October 2023, another court granted an expedited request for a declaration of death since Jennifer's mother, her children's legal guardian, was at an advanced age and unsure she could live long enough for the children to inherit from either her or Jennifer's estate.[24]

Initial arrests edit

On June 1, 2019, Fotis and Troconis were arrested at a hotel in Avon, Connecticut, and charged with tampering with evidence and hindering prosecution. There was no evidence at that time to warrant any more serious charges.[19] The Dulos' five children, then aged between 8 and 13, moved to New York City to live with Jennifer's mother, who was granted temporary custody.[citation needed]

Fotis hired attorney Norm Pattis to represent him. In an interview, prior to being hired by Fotis, Pattis had appeared convinced that Jennifer was dead.[25] Fotis and Troconis both pleaded not guilty to the charges. They were again arrested for tampering with evidence, and again pleaded not guilty, in September 2019.[26]

In late October, it was reported Troconis, along with her 10-year-old daughter, had moved out of Fotis' $5 million home in Farmington.[27]

2020 arrests edit

In January 2020, Fotis was arrested at his home by the Connecticut State Police and charged with capital murder, murder, and kidnapping in relation to Jennifer's disappearance. Troconis was also arrested and charged with conspiracy to commit murder. Fotis's friend and former attorney, Kent Douglas Mawhinney, was also arrested that day and charged with conspiracy to commit murder.[28]

Mawhinney had become estranged from his wife after being accused of spousal rape. She went to South Windsor police and told authorities that she feared Fotis and Mawhinney were working together to kill her. After Jennifer disappeared, a shallow grave was discovered at a secluded property that Mawhinney owned, filled with two bags of lime and a blue tarp. Authorities discovered the grave in August 2019, but no body was found in the grave, and said items were found to have been removed.[29]

Jennifer's family issued a statement after the arrests: "Although we are relieved that the wait for these charges is over, for us, there is no sense of closure. Nothing can bring Jennifer back. We miss her every day and will forever mourn her loss."[30]

Fotis's bond was set at $6 million. He was released the following day and was due to return to court on February 28.[31]

In a statement issued in May, Troconis said it was a "mistake" to have trusted Fotis, but maintained she did not know what happened to Jennifer or where she was.[32] Troconis, out on bail, was next scheduled to appear in court August 6 to face the charges. Mawhinney was being held in lieu of $2 million bond,[33] but the bond was reduced to $246,000 and he was released in October 2020.[34]

Fotis Dulos suicide edit

While out on bail, Dulos failed to appear at a January 28 emergency bond hearing. He was found in an unresponsive state by police at his home in Farmington, having poisoned himself with carbon monoxide by running a vacuum-cleaner hose from the exhaust pipe of his SUV into the interior of the car while it was parked in his garage.[35][36][37][38] Responders restored a faint pulse after doing CPR.[39] He was taken to Jacobi Medical Center in The Bronx to undergo hyperbaric oxygen therapy.[39] Fotis's children[40] visited him at the medical center before he was taken off life support.

Fotis was pronounced dead two days later.[41][42]

Media edit

Dateline NBC aired a segment about the case in 2019.[43] A followup episode entitled "The Day Jennifer Disappeared" aired on September 2, 2022.[44] Following the Troconis verdict, the episode "A Life Interrupted" aired on March 1, 2024. [45]

The documentary Vanished in New Canaan: An ID Mystery, which premiered on Investigation Discovery on June 1, 2020, investigates Dulos's disappearance.[46]

The case was covered in a 2021 Lifetime television film, Gone Mom: The Jennifer Dulos story, with Annabeth Gish as Jennifer Dulos and Warren Christie as Fotis Dulos.[47]

Jennifers' Law edit

In May 2021, a domestic violence bill – "Jennifers' Law" – received near unanimous support in the Connecticut State Senate.[48] The proposed law is named after Jennifer Dulos and another victim of domestic violence in Connecticut, Jennifer Magnano, who was murdered in 2007 by her husband, Scott Magnano, in Terryville. It expanded the definition of the crime to include coercive control.[49] On June 28, 2021, Governor Ned Lamont signed the bill into law.[50]

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ Fahy, Claire (March 2024). "Michelle Troconis guilty". The New York Times.
  2. ^ Tomlinson, Pat (January 18, 2022). "Kent Mawhinney, charged in Jennifer Dulos disappearance, has case put on trial list". Stamford Advocate. Retrieved September 30, 2022.
  3. ^ "Missing mom's body was in truck used by estranged husband, his girlfriend told police". www.cbsnews.com.
  4. ^ a b "Who is Jennifer Farber Dulos?". Latest Bios. July 2020.
  5. ^ "Wealthy CT woman murdered". Latest Bios. July 2020.
  6. ^ a b c "Fotis Dulos: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know". Heavy News. July 2020.
  7. ^ "Fotis Dulos' first marriage to Hilary Aldama ended quickly". Hartford Courant. July 2020.
  8. ^ "How a Conn. Couple's 'Stereotypically Perfect' Marriage Went Sour Before Mom of 5 Disappeared". PEOPLE.com.
  9. ^ "NYC Times FARBER--Hilliard Obituary". NYC Times. July 2020.
  10. ^ "The loneliness and turbulence in the marriage of missing New Canaan mother Jennifer Farber Dulos". Hartford Courant. July 2020.
  11. ^ Duffield, Grace (November 26, 2019). "Jennifer Dulos' home listed for sale in New Canaan". New Canaan Advertiser. Retrieved March 4, 2024.
  12. ^ "Jennifer Dulos home for sale". ncadvertiser. July 2020.
  13. ^ "A timeline of the Jennifer Dulos, Fotis Dulos case". ABC News. July 2020.
  14. ^ "Jennifer Dulos: Inside the Turbulent Marriage of the Missing Connecticut Mother of 5". The New York Times. June 5, 2020.
  15. ^ Smith, George (February 27, 2024). "Remembering Jennifer Dulos: Reflections on a Life Cut Short". Retrieved February 27, 2024.
  16. ^ "Remembering Jennifer Dulos: Reflections on a Life Cut Short". February 26, 2024. Retrieved February 27, 2024.
  17. ^ Pagones, Stephanie. "Fotis Dulos says in-laws owe him $1M from unpaid work, unaccounted payments". Fox News.
  18. ^ "Jennifer Dulos home for sale". Ncadvertiser. July 2020.
  19. ^ a b c "Jennifer Dulos evidence details". Newsweek. July 2020.
  20. ^ "Jennifer Dulos home for sale". Ncadvertiser. July 2020.
  21. ^ EDT, Jenni Fink On 8/9/19 at 11:45 AM (August 9, 2019). "Everything we know about Fotis Dulos, Connecticut man charged in estranged wife's disappearance". Newsweek.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  22. ^ a b "What happened to Jennifer Dulos". Eonline. July 2020.
  23. ^ "Fotis Dulos arrested for murder of estranged wife Jennifer Dulos". ABC News.
  24. ^ Wilkinson, Joseph (January 9, 2024). "Jennifer Farber Dulos declared legally dead, more than 4 years after disappearance". New York Daily News. Retrieved March 4, 2024.
  25. ^ Matt McFarland, Kaitlyn Naples. "Local defense attorney weighs in on case of missing mom". Pattis & Smith Law Firm.
  26. ^ "Jennifer Dulos 1 year on". ABC News. July 2020.
  27. ^ "Jennifer Dulos 1 year on". ABC News. July 2020.
  28. ^ Backus, Lisa; Tomlinson, Pat (January 7, 2020). "Fotis Dulos' former attorney arrested at gunpoint in Jennifer Dulos case". The Hour.
  29. ^ "Shallow 'human grave' found before Connecticut mom Jennifer Dulos' disappearance". NBC News.
  30. ^ "Who is Jennifer Farber Dulos?". Latest Bios. July 2020.
  31. ^ "Fotis Dulos released on bond in Jennifer Dulos murder case". ABC News.
  32. ^ "Michelle Troconis Issues Statement on Disappearance of Jennifer Dulos". NBC News.
  33. ^ "Troconis denied hearing to remove GPS tracking device". Stamford Advocate. July 10, 2020.
  34. ^ Stewart, Doug (October 19, 2020). "Kent Mawhinney released on bond". WTIC-TV. Retrieved June 6, 2021.
  35. ^ Vigdor, Neil; Gold, Michael (January 28, 2020). "Fotis Dulos, Charged With Killing His Wife, Jennifer, Attempts Suicide". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved January 28, 2020.
  36. ^ "Attorneys Speak Out After Fotis Dulos Suicide Attempt: 'The Situation Is Grim'". January 28, 2020. Retrieved January 28, 2020.
  37. ^ Altimari, Dave. "Police say Fotis Dulos in critical condition after attempted suicide". courant.com. Retrieved January 28, 2020.
  38. ^ Polansky, Rob. "Fotis Dulos in critical condition after attempted suicide". WFSB. Retrieved January 28, 2020.
  39. ^ a b "Fotis Dulos In Critical Condition After Apparent Suicide Attempt At His Connecticut Home". CBS Local. January 29, 2020. Retrieved January 29, 2020.
  40. ^ Gola, Pankaj (July 29, 2021). "Jennifer Dulos Children's Names and Ages". fox24x7.com. Retrieved September 30, 2022.
  41. ^ Chakraborty, Barnini (January 30, 2020). "Fotis Dulos, Connecticut man charged in wife Jennifer Dulos' murder, dead after suicide attempt, lawyer says". Fox News. Retrieved January 31, 2020.
  42. ^ "Fotis Dulos, charged with killing his estranged wife, dies after suicide attempt". NBC News. Retrieved January 31, 2020.
  43. ^ Murphy, Dennis (September 10, 2019). "The Disappearance of Jennifer". Dateline NBC. Season 2019. NBC. Retrieved September 21, 2022.
  44. ^ Murphy, Dennis; Mankiewicz, Josh; Morrison, Keith; Holt, Lester; Canning, Andrea (September 3, 2022). "The Day Jennifer Disappeared". Dateline NBC. Season 28. Episode 39. NBC. Retrieved September 21, 2022.
  45. ^ Murphy, Dennis (March 1, 2024). "A Life Interrupted". Dateline NBC. Season 32. Episode 30. NBC. Retrieved March 4, 2024.
  46. ^ "New Jennifer Dulos documentary". June 2020.
  47. ^ "Gone Mom: The Disappearance of Jennifer Dulos". Lifetime. Retrieved May 19, 2021.
  48. ^ "'Jennifers' Law' receives near unanimous support in state Senate". May 19, 2021.
  49. ^ "#Her name was Jennifer Magnano".
  50. ^ Agogliati, Mike (June 28, 2021). "Lamont signs "Jennifer's Law" expanding domestic violence definition". WFSB News. Retrieved June 29, 2021.

External links edit