Police arrest estranged husband and his girlfriend in connection with her disappearance…
Jennifer Dulous, 50, was last seen on May 24, 2019. The last time anyone heard from her, she was dropping off her five children at school in her black Chevrolet Suburban. Following that last point of contact, police investigating her disappearance have been following a trail of tangible and circumstantial evidence that paints a picture of a marriage fraught with control and intimidation, followed by an ugly custody battle that may have been the motive for a grisly, violent act.
On June 1st, police arrested Jennifer’s estranged husband, Fotis Dulos, and his girlfriend, Michelle Troconis, charging them with tampering/fabricating physical evidence and hindering prosecution. The evidence cited in the arrest warrants includes blood spatter found in Jennifer’s garage, where police believe she was violently attacked. In nearby Hartford, police found Jennifer’s blood on clothes and sponges in multiple trash cans. Surveillance footage shows a man and woman arriving in a car, then the man dumping the clothes and other items into different bins. The description of both the man and woman match descriptions of Fotis Dulos and Michelle Troconis.
As far back as May 2017, police were able to confirm through court documents that Jennifer and her husband were in the grips of an ugly custody battle at the time of her disappearance. During those custody proceedings, Jennifer alleged that her husband had presented with growing “irrational, unsafe, bullying, threatening and controlling behavior,” and raised a concern for the physical safety of both herself and her children. This fear was only compounded by the fact that as early as June 2017, Fotis Dulos made threats that if Jennifer did not adhere to his terms of their divorce, he would kidnap the children. Fotis now denies that he ever said those things to Jennifer. Jennifer also added that Fotis had bought a gun, which he now claims was purchased legally and only for the purpose of home security. On June 3, 2017, Jennifer Dulous said, “I am afraid of my husband. 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.”
More court transcripts with quotes from Fotis Dulos seem to corroborate that perceived rage. During one of the divorce proceedings, he is on the record saying to the judge, “Your Honor, I am sorry, but why do I always get the raw end of the stick? I really want to see my children. I have spent 2 percent of the time with them since January. I’m not Charles Manson.” That proceeding was in March, just months before Jennifer disappeared. Initially, Jennifer and Fotis were sharing custody of their children, alternating weekends and complying with other orders in the agreement, such as an order to not expose the children to any romantic partners of either parent. When Fotis Dulos violated that order by allowing the children to spend time with his girlfriend, sole custody was transferred to Jennifer. While some supervised visitation with his children was eventually restored, the children were still not to have contact with Traconis.
There was another factor in the Dulous’ rapidly deteriorating situation that might bring new context to these charges. In addition to the emotional toll Fotis Dulos cited after prolonged separation from his children, there was also a mounting pile of debt accumulating to facilitate the costs of waging the custody battle. In addition to legal fees for personal counsel, Fotis was also staring down the barrel of costs for a court-appointed guardian for all five children ($175,000), a child psychaiatrist that wrote the report entered into evidence ($40,000), a family therapist, three psychologists, and court-approved monitors who supervise Fotis’ visits with the children.
Both Dulos and his girlfriend have been released on bond. Norm Pattis is the defense attorney of record for Dulos seems to be playing his cards close to the vest—so close in fact that both he and his client failed to appear at several official proceedings, such as a deposition last month, and another court appearance earlier in June. Pattis commented that the description of the evidence recovered from the trash cans in Hartford “was a very awkward set of facts,” and has yet to reveal his client’s alibi for the time frame in question when his estranged wife disappeared. “There is an explanation, but we’re not going to give it,” Pattis said, going on to say that they would wait until it was time to present the case to a jury before releasing that information to the public. Pattis further incurred public outrage by stating publicly that Jennifer has likely pulled a “Gone Girl,” making reference to the Gillian Flynn novel and film of the same name, in which a wife deliberately stages her own disappearance with the intent to implicate her husband. Author Flynn responded to the theory, “It absolutely sickens me that a work of fiction written by me would be used by Fotis Dulos’ lawyer as a defense and as a hypothetical, sensationalized motive behind Jennifer’s very real and very tragic disappearance.”
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