Gone Girl? A Deep Dive Into The Case Of Missing Mom Jennifer Dulos
Authorities have reportedly found garbage bags containing clothing and sponges stained with blood belonging to Jennifer Dulos.
On May 24, Jennifer Dulos reportedly dropped her five children off at school in the wealthy suburb of New Canaan, Connecticut — and vanished.
How could a busy mother of five fall off the face of the earth? Since that day, the strange circumstances surrounding her disappearance have captivated the nation.
In recent months, police have reportedly focused their investigation on her estranged husband, Fotis Dulos, and his girlfriend, Michelle Troconis.
Fotis Dulos appeared in court Thursday to face a new charge of tampering with evidence in connection with his wife's disappearance, according to The Associated Press.
Here's what we know about the case:
New Canaan police released this new photo along with a family and friends statement.6/11/19FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:Statement from Carrie Luft, on Behalf of the Family and Friends of Jennifer Farber DulosJennifer Farber Dulos, mother of five, daughter, sister, cousin, and friend, has now been missing from New Canaan, CT, for more than two and a half weeks. The towns of New Canaan, Farmington, and Avon have responded to Jennifer???s disappearance with a steady stream of love. These gestures of empathy and kinship have helped keep us going.As the news cycle propels the story of Jennifer???s disappearance forward, we must not lose sight of the enormous human cost of this tragedy: five young children have not seen their mother in 18 days. Jennifer is the constant presence in their lives. She has sole physical custody and has devoted her full energies to their care and happiness.Jennifer???s family, friends, and above all her children are living in limbo???missing her embrace, her lilting laugh, her bedtime backrubs, her gentle strength. Please know that the children are safe and loved and supported in every respect. But more than anything in the world, they long to know where their mother is. Someone has information about Jennifer???s disappearance or her whereabouts. The New Canaan Police Department has created a website, FindJenniferDulos.com, and a dedicated email address, FindJenniferDulos@newcanaanct.gov. If you have any information at all, no matter how small, please email or call the New Canaan Police tip line at (203) 594-3544. Our deepest thanks go out to the forces of the New Canaan and Connecticut State police for their ongoing and exhaustive efforts to locate Jennifer. Thank you also to every single person who has called in a tip. Keep the information coming. Please help us find Jennifer.
Jennifer Dulos [New Canaan Police Department]
Who Is Jennifer Dulos?
Jennifer Dulos, 50, has been described as a mother who was completely devoted to her five young children.
She grew up on Fifth Avenue in New York City's Greenwich Village with her parents, Gloria and Hilliard Farber.
After Hilliard Farber opened a brokerage firm, Jennifer's childhood was said to be one of wealth and privilege.
According to Hartford's WTIC-TV, friends describe Jennifer Dulos as soft-spoken and kind.
As a teen, she was an accomplished athlete — though she also blogged that she loved Madonna and actress Jennifer Beals in "Flashdance," the Hartford Courant reported.
Jennifer attended Brown University, and she met Fotis Dulos there, but the couple did not start dating seriously right away.
After college, she came back to the city, the newspaper reported. She attended New York University's Tisch School of the Arts and got a master's degree in writing.
In 2003, she wrote in one of the blogs cited by the Hartford Courant, she ran into Fotis Dulos randomly at the Aspen airport, "and serendipity cast its spell … we had a special chemistry together, always, something special and precious and we were careful to be careful with one another until lightning finally struck." But there was one problem: Dulos was still married to his first wife, Hilary Aldama.
But they reportedly started emailing, and he moved to New York.
By July 2004, according to the newspaper, Fotis Dulos was divorced — and a month later, Jennifer became his wife.
What Was Jennifer & Fotis Dulos' Relationship Like?
On the outside, the couple reportedly appeared to lead a charmed life. In her profile listing on Patch.com, she listed herself as a "mother to five children: Twin boys, a twin boy and a girl, and a baby girl."
In 2012, the couple moved into the 15,000-square-foot, multi-million-dollar mansion in Farmington that was designed by Fotis. His company, Fore Group Inc., specialized in buying homes and re-designing them for a wealthy clientele, the Hartford Courant reported.
For Jennifer, parenting was a full-time job. According to the newspaper, she had the children enrolled in numerous activities, including art, ballet, swimming, soccer, tennis, ice skating, hockey, horseback riding, snow skiing, and water skiing.
Fotis was a championship water-skier (the leader of the Water Skiing Federation released a statement on his behalf) and taught his two oldest boys to ski. By age six, they ranked nationally.
But over time, Jennifer and Fotis appeared to be living increasingly separate lives, and her purported blog postings and court documents began to paint a picture of her increasing loneliness.
In a blog posting from February 18, 2012, she allegedly wrote: "I do wish for one moment though, in this new house, with Fotis – Alone. After the kids have gone to bed, to pop some champagne, even if I don't drink more than a thimble-full of anything nowadays, to toast to this new structure, to our family, to this fresh and lovely start. To commune with my husband really."
Jennifer reportedly filed for divorce from Fotis on June 20, 2017. In court documents cited by The Providence Journal, she reportedly stated that Fotis travelled at least 10 days per month — leaving her and the children alone.
Even the kids' sports became a point of contention. Jennifer claimed in court depositions that some of the children were showing signs of depression, which she attributed, in part, to the intensity of water skiing lessons.
Nancy Mastrocosta, secretary general of the Hellenic Waterski and Wakeboard Federation (HWWF), released a statement on behalf of Fotis.
The statement, obtained by WTIC-TV, read: "Fotis Dulos is not the person portrayed in the media; far from it. We witnessed Fotis for many years as a calm, balanced, respectful, kind person. We witnessed a caring father, not only for his kids' skiing activities but for every aspect of their daily lives, feeding them, putting them to sleep, taking his children and sometimes other children to different activities, such as swimming, bowling, dinner, etc. No one ever witnessed Fotis abusing his children in any way or form, or even forcing the children to ski. On the contrary, we repeatedly witnessed Fotis being a great father. It was Fotis who was present, not only in tournaments but also in practice. Coaching them and supporting them emotionally when needed. Being an accomplished skier himself, he always emphasized the effort instead of the result. By taking the pressure away, the children performed exceptionally, and this was largely to his credit. I cannot speak about Jennifer because she never attended in these four years, not once."
Asked in court if she went to watch the children water ski, Jennifer, according to The Providence Journal, said, "I normally do not because I feel that they are suffering."
"I am afraid of my husband," she said in court papers, according to People magazine. "He is dangerous and ruthless when he believes that he has been wronged."
She said that Fotis had told her about "sickening revenge fantasies" he had during the marriage, and said he exhibited "irrational, unsafe, bullying, threatening, and controlling behavior," the Providence Journal reported.
Fotis adamantly denied these allegations in court documents. He reportedly claimed his wife was taking medications for "mental health issues" and — that while he was an active and caring father — she spent most of her time in her writer's studio and had "absolutely nothing to do with the kids," according to court transcripts obtained by the Providence Journal.
The Money Trail
As the couple's marriage deteriorated, court papers show the Fore Group also appeared to be struggling. Jennifer's father, Hilliard Farber, reportedly loaned her husband millions of dollars over the years to help his business. But at some point, the relationship soured. Hilliard Farber, died two years ago.
According to a complaint filed by the attorney representing Gloria Farber, in 2004 her husband "began to loan funds to defendant and its predecessor entities, Fore Group LLC and/or Fore Group US LLC ('Fore Group') for the purchase of real properties."
Over the years, according to the court documents, Fotis Dulos and the Fore Group would buy properties, improve the properties, and re-sell them.
In 2015, Hilliard Farber allegedly loaned Fotis $1.5 million to buy the property at 183 Hemlock Road. When that property sold in 2016, according to the complaint, Fotis only paid back $500,000 of the loan.
Most recently, one of Gloria Farber's attorneys filed a motion to foreclose on the property that Fotis is living in with Troconis, New Canaan Patch reports. They allege he stopped paying the mortgage on that property last year.
In court, questions arose about the total value of all property that the Fore Group owned as of February 22, 2018 — as well as his income and expenses.
Fotis stated that while his net monthly income totaled $5226.53, his monthly expenses added up to $9,769.30. In addition, he was challenged in court about his accounting methods and reimbursed business expenses.
In 2018, when he traveled to Greece and took it off as a business expense to meet an alleged investor, he took Troconis with him, according to court documents. He testified they spent several days in and around Athens, but he could not recall precisely where they went, the court documents state.
That same year, according to court documents, Fotis traveled to Florida to "commence a company" in Miami. He testified he did claim the trip as a business expense but acknowledged he never actually set up a company in Florida. He also testified he took more than one trip to Vail, Colorado, during the ski season. Those trips, according to court documents, were also expensed to his business.
As the legal battle continues, an attorney for Gloria Farber has filed a motion asking the judge for permission to conduct a forensic examination of the Fore Group's books and records.
Who Is Michelle Troconis?
Fotis Dulos has stated that, contrary to media reports, he and Jennifer were not fighting at the time of her death.
He told NBC's Dateline that he has a girlfriend, whom he was "enamored with," and said that he had a "beautiful life" at the time his wife disappeared. The divorce, he said, was the only negative aspect of it.
Troconis is reportedly a South American businesswoman. The Hartford Courant reported that she is the former wife of a former Olympic Alpine skier.
Dulos testified Troconis owns an apartment in Vail and stated he stayed with her when he traveled there.
The Stamford Advocate reported that Fotis and Jennifer Dulos' divorce was extremely contentious and bitter. In court, hundreds of motions got filed over finances and custody.
According to the Stamford Advocate, the court denied Fotis access to the children in March 2018. The court reportedly found "an immediate and present risk of psychological harm to the children if they have unrestricted and unsupervised contact with the defendant, as well as a risk of physical danger." But earlier this year, Judge Donna Heller reportedly allowed Fotis supervised visitation every other weekend.
However, Judge Heller, the Stamford Advocate reported, "banned Troconis and her daughter from interacting with the Dulos children."
Can Police Build A Homicide Case With No Body?
Suspecting that Jennifer fell victim to a homicide, police are attempting to create a timeline of events by gathering surveillance footage and physical evidence — even without a body.
Jennifer was reportedly last seen driving a 2017 Chevrolet Suburban in New Canaan on May 24.
In a warrant, police included what they believe to be the last known photos of her alive. The images appear to show her vehicle driving toward her home at 8:05 a.m., WTIC-TV reported.
A caption accompanying the images reads, "This photograph is the last known photograph of Jennifer alive. At the time this footage was recorded, [Fotis] Dulos is believed to have been lying in wait at 69 Welles Lane for his wife to return home. The crime and clean-up are believed to have occurred between 8:05 a.m. and 10:25 a.m."
After friends reported her missing, officers visited her home. Inside, they reportedly found "several stains on the garage floor and on a vehicle parked in the garage, which had the appearance of bloodstains," the warrant alleges.
In another image, captioned "Suspect Leaves The Scene," the text reads, "At 10:25 residential surveillance on Welles Lane shows Jennifer's 2017 Chevrolet Suburban traveling westbound away from the 69 Welles Lane. [Fotis] Dulos is believed to be operating the victim's vehicle which is carrying the body of Jennifer Dulos and a number of other items associated with a clean-up which occurred in the garage of the residence."
Police found her abandoned Suburban near Waveny Park. The Stamford Advocate researched several possibilities and theorized times and distances of more than one route that they suggested Fotis could have taken on foot the day his wife disappeared.
Police say that video footage captured a man who resembled Fotis disposing of garbage bags in several trash bins in Hartford, and then getting into a vehicle with a woman who resembled Troconis, according to court documents obtained by the Hartford Courant.
Has Michelle Troconis Turned Against Fotis Dulos?
Police arrested Fotis and Troconis in June and charged them with tampering with or fabricating physical evidence. They pled not guilty to the charges. Both were released on bond and ordered to wear GPS monitoring devices, CNN reported.
Police rearrested Fotis after investigators found DNA that was a match to Jennifer in a vehicle he allegedly used, according to a state police warrant.
Troconis was also arrested again on evidence tampering charges. She spoke to police again and, according to New York's WNBC-TV, recanted an earlier statement claiming she had been with Fotis on the morning his wife disappeared.
She also reportedly spoke with investigators about handwritten notes allegedly found in Fotis' office. The notes, which authorities refer to in court documents as "alibi scripts," reportedly are a detailed list of activities on May 24 and 25 — including events that allegedly never happened.
A 43-page warrant obtained by WTIC-TV alleges police found a "bloodlike substance" on the passenger seat of a vehicle belonging to one of Fotis' employees Forensic testing reportedly concluded the DNA is a match to Jennifer.
The employee reportedly told investigators Fotis instructed him to change out the seats and became angry when he did not immediately do it. He allegedly stated he was surprised to learn Fotis had the car washed and detailed. The employee reportedly kept the seats "without telling" Fotis and turned them over to authorities.
Police have stated that they do not believe the employee had any involvement in the case.
Troconis reportedly told police she believes he had the truck cleaned because, "all the evidence says … the body of Jennifer at some point was in there," according to the warrant.
Could Jennifer Have Pulled A Real Life “Gone Girl”?
Fotis Dulos continues to maintain his innocence – and his lawyer continues to speak out on his behalf. "Where's the murder charge?" his lawyer, Norman Pattis, said recently, according to The Associated Press.
One theory reportedly suggested by Pattis is that Jennifer could have pulled a plot reminiscent of author Gillian Flynn's 2012 novel, "Gone Girl." The bestselling book, which was later made into a movie of the same name, is about a woman who discovers her husband is having an affair and seeks revenge by staging her death and attempting to frame him for it.
Pattis has proposed a "revenge suicide hypothesis" to explain Jennifer's disappearance, according to The New York Times. He notes that Jennifer had written a 500-page manuscript that is allegedly similar to “Gone Girl.”
Fotis' legal team has reportedly requested his wife's medical records, according to WNBC-TV.
"Right now, my life is a mess, and I absolutely had no desire or interest to be in this mess," Fotis told Dateline. "I wish she were here to sort this mess out," he added. "And I'm still hoping that she's going to show up."
When asked if he had anything to do with his wife's disappearance, Fotis told Dateline, "I did not, but I'd like to leave it at that." He also said that he believes that Jennifer is still alive.
But Jennifer's friends and family have insisted that she would never voluntarily leave her children. On Wednesday, Richard Weinstein, an attorney who represents the Farber family, told Hartford's WFSB-TV they believe Jennifer is dead.
"I would say, without a doubt, it's our client's belief that Jennifer is dead," Weinstein told the news station. "It certainly is my belief. It is certainly the belief of all of her friends and all the people who knew Jennifer and wish they could find a way to resolve this awful situation."
Read more: The Associated Press, The Associated Press (2), WTIC-TV, WTIC-TV (2), WTIC-TV (3), Hartford Courant, Hartford Courant (2), Hartford Courant (3), Patch.com, Patch.com (2), Jennifer Dulos' blog, The Providence Journal, People, complaint, Stamford Advocate, Stamford Advocate (2), Stamford Advocate (3), Stamford Advocate (4), Dateline, CNN, court documents, WNBC-TV, WNBC-TV (2), The New York Times, WFSB-TV