Jennifer Dulos case: Estranged husband, murder suspect Fotis Dulos dead

FARMINGTON, Conn. — Update 6 p.m. EDT Jan. 30: Fotis Dulos was declared dead by his attorney Norm Pattis at an evening press conference Thursday.

Original Report: The estranged husband of Jennifer Dulos, a Connecticut mother of five missing since May 2019 and presumed slain, attempted suicide at his home Tuesday, according to law enforcement officials.

Fotis Dulos, 52, of Farmington, attempted suicide by carbon monoxide poisoning. He initially did not have a pulse, but WFSB in Hartford reported that paramedics were spotted performing CPR on Dulos outside his garage.

Authorities said during a brief afternoon news conference that police went to Dulos’ home after he was late to show up for a noon emergency court hearing regarding his $6 million bond. Officers found him slumped inside his car in the garage.

Images shot from a WFSB helicopter show officers pulling Fotis Dulos out onto the driveway of his home. The helicopter was apparently circling overhead as officers discovered his body.

Lt. Tim McKenzie of the Farmington Police Department said the call for the suicide attempt came in at 11:54 a.m. Dulos was in critical condition Tuesday afternoon.

Authorities offered little information during a news conference held near the scene. Brian Foley, a spokesman for the Connecticut State Police, said a gag order is still in place stemming from the Jennifer Dulos murder case.

One of Fotis Dulos’ attorneys, Kevin Smith, confirmed outside the courthouse that paramedics had taken Dulos to UConn Health in Farmington. WFSB reported around 2:30 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on its live Facebook feed that Dulos was being flown to another hospital for further treatment.

Norm Pattis, another member of Dulos’ defense team, also gave a brief statement about his client Tuesday. Pattis was out of state on another case when Dulos was due in court.

“I am told Mr. Dulos is en route to the hospital with a pulse,” Pattis told the Hartford Courant. “Our thoughts and prayers are with him.”

>> Related story: Missing mom Jennifer Dulos’ estranged husband charged with murder; 2 charged with conspiracy

Fotis Dulos was charged earlier this month, alongside his live-in girlfriend, Michelle Troconis, and a lawyer and close friend of his, Kent Mawhinney, in connection with Jennifer Dulos’ disappearance and death.

The Courant said reports that Fotis Dulos was still alive conflicted with earlier reports from just moments earlier that he had died.

That included notification to his family that he was dead, the newspaper said.

Fotis Dulos was arrested Jan. 7 and charged with murder, felony murder and kidnapping in the May 24 disappearance of Jennifer Dulos, 50, who was last seen alive dropping her children off at school that morning. Troconis, 45, and Mawhinney, 54, of South Windsor, are charged with conspiracy to commit murder.

Fotis Dulos, a real estate developer, was out of jail after posting bond a few days after his arrest. The Courant reported that a judge was expected to hold an emergency bond hearing Tuesday to discuss the bond, which was backed by Palmetto Surety Company of Columbia, S.C.

The insurance company had raised concerns about the collateral that Fotis Dulos had put up as surety that he would appear in court. The newspaper reported that there were questions about whether the company would continue to back Dulos’ release.

Fotis Dulos and Troconis were initially charged with tampering with evidence and hindering prosecution in Jennifer Dulos’ disappearance. She was reported missing by friends the night of May 24 after she failed to show up for scheduled doctors’ appointments in New York City.

Few signs of Jennifer Dulos have been found beyond blood found in her New Canaan home and in her garage. Arrest warrants released in the case earlier this month state that DNA tests indicate the blood in the garage -- found on the floor, a wall and the exterior of a 2014 Range Rover parked inside -- came from Dulos.

A stain found on the kitchen faucet was a mixture of blood belonging to both Fotis and Jennifer Dulos, the warrants say. In addition, Fotis Dulos’ DNA profile was found on the knob of the mudroom door.

Jennifer Dulos’ blood was also found in May on items discarded in trash bins more than 70 miles away, in Hartford, the night of May 24. The items included clothing and a kitchen sponge.

Investigators found signs that someone had tried to clean up the scene in the victim’s garage.

>> Related story: Bloody clothes, camera footage leave trail of evidence in case of missing mom of 5

Carrie Luft, a spokeswoman for Jennifer Dulos’ family, issued a statement earlier this month on behalf of her loved ones.

“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,” Luft said in the statement obtained by NBC Connecticut.

“We believe the arrest warrants will speak for themselves, and we ask that you please respect our privacy during this time.”

Fotis Dulos and Troconis were both free on bond Tuesday. Dulos, who was fitted with a GPS tracking device before being released, had been ordered by a judge not to leave his home without the court’s permission.

WFSB reported Tuesday that court documents allege Fotis Dulos violated the conditions of that release at least once, on Jan. 22, when he got out of his car and removed items from a makeshift memorial to his estranged wife on the edge of his property. In September, he also had an issue changing the batteries of the GPS tracker he wore.

The judge had also issued protective orders barring him from contacting his children, Jennifer Dulos’ family or the children’s nanny. The news station reported that the children have been in the custody of Jennifer Dulos’ mother, Gloria Farber, in New York City since their mother vanished.

According to The New York Times, the couple had three sons and two daughters together, including two sets of twins. They ranged in age from 8 to 13 at the time their mother vanished.

100% a human grave’

Though Fotis Dulos and Troconis were charged in the case shortly after Jennifer Dulos’ disappearance, Mawhinney’s arrest earlier this month was the first time the attorney was publicly connected to the case.

His arrest warrant states that police found evidence that he met with Fotis Dulos on May 23, the night before Jennifer Dulos’ suspected killing, as well as the following day. The document also mentions what appeared to be a shallow grave found on the grounds of a hunting club in East Granby that Mawhinney founded more than a decade ago.

Two members of the Windsor Rod & Gun Club were walking through the woods on club property May 18 – six days before Jennifer Dulos vanished – when they found “an area of disturbed ground” covered by two barbecue grill grates. Small branches and leaves had been used to conceal the grates and hide the hole underneath them, Mawhinney’s arrest warrant says.

One man described the hole to police as “100% a human grave.”

The hole was about 6 feet long, 2 feet wide and 3 feet deep, the men told investigators. In the hole sat a blue tarp and two unopened bags of lime.

The men told police they speculated on the reason for the lime, which one of them pointed out could be used to help get rid of a body.

“Well, that means someone has to be missing,” one of the men stated.

Read Mawhinney’s entire arrest warrant below. Read the arrest warrants for Fotis Dulos and Michelle Troconis at the end of this story.

A few days later, but two days before Jennifer Dulos went missing, the second man was on the property and checked on the hole, which he found to be half-filled with water. The lime was missing at that point, he told police.

“Again, (he) considered this curious, but as no one was yet missing, he shrugged it off,” the arrest warrant says.

In early June, the man was again on the property and found the hole had been filled and covered “neat as a pin,” to the point the hole was no longer apparent. A few weeks later, while talking about the hole with a police officer friend, the friend told him he needed to call authorities.

The witness told police that, although Mawhinney had left the hunting club five or six years ago, he had reached out in March or April to another club member, saying he was interested in again getting involved.

“(Mawhinney) had said he wanted to get back into the club and had inquired how to get back onto the property. The member told Mawhinney about the hidden key to the logging chain (blocking access),” the arrest warrant states.

Mawhinney never followed up on renewing his membership in the club, the court documents say.

Investigators from New Canaan and state troopers took K-9 units to the hunting club, where they found the filled-in hole the men had told them about, the warrant says. The hole was dug up, but the dogs found no signs of human remains in or around it.

Mawhinney’s cellphone data, which led police to believe he met with Fotis Dulos on May 23 and 24, also showed him in the vicinity of the hunting club March 29, around the time he asked about how to access the property, and again May 31, a week after Jennifer Dulos vanished, his warrant says.

Bloodstains and surveillance footage

After Jennifer Dulos was reported missing, New Canaan police officers went to her home -- located on a cul-de-sac in the affluent town about 15 miles outside Greenwich -- but found no one there. A state police detective wrote in the initial arrest warrants for Fotis Dulos and Troconis that the family’s nanny had to let officers into the house.

Investigators found bloodstains in the garage and home that led them to believe a violent assault had taken place, with Jennifer Dulos suspected to be the victim.

A search was launched around Jennifer Dulos’ home on Welles Lane, and a short time later, her 2017 Chevy Suburban was found abandoned along Merritt Parkway, on the perimeter of nearby Waveny Park. The 300-acre park was thoroughly searched over the weeks following Dulos’ disappearance, but no sign of the missing woman was found.

Detectives who met briefly with Fotis Dulos May 25 seized his cellphone, which showed his movements the day his wife disappeared. Those movements included traveling to Hartford, where the bloodstained clothing and cleaning supplies were found.

The data specifically showed the phone traveling along Albany Avenue, where the discarded items were recovered by police. In a storm drain along the route, investigators also found a FedEx box containing license plates that police traced back to a 2007 Suburban belonging to Fotis Dulos.

The plates had been altered to change the tag number, court documents state.

The Hartford Police Department was able to help New Canaan detectives tie Fotis Dulos and his girlfriend to the evidence, court documents say.

“Investigators obtained surveillance footage from the Hartford Police Department Capital City Command Center (C4), which operates surveillance cameras at various Hartford locations, including the Albany Avenue area,” one of the warrants from May states. “C4 documented a black Ford Raptor pickup truck stopping at over 30 locations along a more than 4 mile stretch of Albany Avenue between Biltmore and Edward streets.”

Still images from the surveillance footage showed the Raptor truck matched one belonging to Fotis Dulos, including a sticker on the rear window and a light-colored mark on the black truck’s front bumper. The front license plate of the vehicle also matched that of his truck.

A man matching the description of Fotis Dulos was seen getting out of the truck and tossing out the evidence later found by officers, the warrants say. In some of the footage, apparent bloodstains could be seen on the items being tossed out.

A woman matching Troconis’ description could be seen leaning out of the passenger seat of the truck in one video clip, the documents say.

Pattis has repeatedly proclaimed his client’s innocence, at one point going so far as to suggest that Jennifer Dulos was framing her husband for murder, as the supposed victim did in the best-selling Gillian Flynn novel “Gone Girl.” The 2014 movie based on the book, starring Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike, earned more than $368 million worldwide.

Pattis reiterated his client’s claims of innocence following the triple arrest, saying that Fotis Dulos wanted to clear his name, according to NBC Connecticut.

“What we have is a suspicious disappearance and an entirely circumstantial case,” Pattis said.