The Mysterious Disappearance Of Jennifer Dulos

On the morning of May 24, 2019, Jennifer Farber Dulos dropped off her five children at school. She returned to her New Canaan, Connecticut home, around 8 a.m., according to a security camera at a neighboring house (via Town and Country magazine). But what happened to Dulos after that became a mystery that is still not fully solved. Friends became worried when she failed to show up for some appointments that afternoon, according to the Stamford Advocate. Dulos was officially reported missing about 7 p.m. that day.

The search for Jennifer Farber Dulos intensified after the police found traces of blood in her garage. Then her car, a black Chevrolet Suburban, was discovered near New Canaan's Waverny Park. After an intense search of the park, investigators widened their scope, checking a property owned by her family in Westchester County, New York, and a pond used for water skiing in Avon, Connecticut that Dulos and her family had visited often. They also checked properties connected with her estranged husband's building business.

Jennifer Dulos feared her husband during divorce

At the time of her disappearance, Jennifer Dulos was in the midst of a bitter divorce from her husband, Fotis Dulos. The pair had met while attending Brown University, but they didn't start dating until later. The couple married in 2004 and had five children together, but their union eventually fell apart. Jennifer filed for divorce in 2017, stating that she feared for her safety and for her children (via ABC News). She claimed that Fotis had displayed "irrational, unsafe, bullying, threatening, and controlling behavior."

After filing for divorce, Jennifer Dulos feared that Fotis would "retaliate by trying to harm me in some way," according to the Stamford Advocate. The estranged couple engaged in a lengthy court battle that lasted roughly two and a half years with the filing of more than 300 legal motions. And the matter still wasn't settled by the time Jennifer went missing in May 2019 (via the Stamford Advocate). Jennifer's mother, Gloria Farber, stepped in after her daughter's disappearance to look after her five grandchildren. Farber brought the children to stay with her in New York City and hired an armed guard to help protect them (via Fox 61).

Key evidence in the case turned up in Hartford, Connecticut

In the days that followed her disappearance, Jennifer Dulos' case took a dark turn. Investigators turned up surveillance camera footage that showed Fotis Dulos and his girlfriend Michelle Troconis throwing away bags in different garbage cans in the Hartford, Connecticut area, according to the Hartford Courant. A search of these trash bins led to the discovery of several key pieces of evidence, including clothing with Farber Dulos's blood on them and zip ties with her DNA. One bag had DNA from Farber Dulos, Dulos, and Troconis.

On June 1, 2019, Fotis Dulos and Michelle Troconis were brought up on charges of hindering prosecution and tampering with evidence in Jennifer Farber Dulos' disappearance. Their arrest led investigators to conduct more extensive searches of properties connected to Fore Group, Inc., Dulos's home building company, and Dulos's home in Farmington, Connecticut. At his house, they discovered a set of handwritten notes that detailed Dulos and Troconis's movements on the day of and the day after Farber Dulos's disappearance, which became known as "the alibi script." The investigators also went through the trash collected at Hartford's Materials and Innovation and Recycling Authority for more trash bags associated with Farber Dulos.

Fortis Dulos protested his innocence

From the beginning of the investigation, Fotis Dulos claimed not to be involved in his estranged wife's disappearance. His lawyer, Norm Pattis, told ABC News on June 11, 2019, that "this is a troubled couple going through troubled times," and he insisted that his client was innocent. "We are anxious to meet those accusations and clear his name." Pattis later offered up an alternative theory to the investigators' belief that Farber Dulos had suffered a serious assault. According to the Stamford Advocate, Pattis brought up an unpublished novel that Farber Dulos had written, which had some similarities to the best-selling thriller and movie "Gone Girl," in which a wife stages her own death to get her husband charged for her murder. "This is a person who has a pretty florid imagination and motives to use it to hurt Mr. Dulos," Pattis explained to the New York Post (via the Stamford Advocate).

That July, Fotis Dulos himself made a public statement on the case (via ABC News). He acknowledged that the public viewed him "as a monster," but he believed "I have been and will continue to be treated fairly by the criminal justice system" and "everything is going to be alright eventually." Many came to question his protests of innocence as more details of the case began to emerge.

Fortis Dulos was charged in estranged wife's murder

Michelle Troconis began to revise her alibi for Fortis Dulos in August 2019, no longer claiming that she spent the entire day of May 24 with him (via Town and Country magazine). By that fall, both Fortis Dulos and his former girlfriend Michelle Troconis were arrested again for tampering with evidence in connection with Jennifer Farber Dulos' disappearance (via the Hartford Courant). And despite Dulos' legal efforts, the custody of his five children was awarded to their grandmother, Gloria Farber, that November. The investigators finally had enough potential evidence against Dulos to charge him with murder on January 7, 2020. Troconis and Dulos' friend and lawyer, Kent Mawhinney, were each brought up on a conspiracy to commit murder charge.

According to the Stamford Advocate, the Connecticut Chief Medical Examiner James R. Gill stated that Jennifer Faber Dulos had been the subject of a "non-survivable" assault. She suffered from some forms of blunt-force injuries, and the recovered zip ties, two with her blood on them, provided some clues as to what happened. The warrant explained that Farber Dulos was alive when placed in the zip ties and they "were attached to restrain her movements and to prevent her escape."

"Although we are relieved that the wait for these charges is over," said Carrie Luft, a spokesperson for Dulos' friends and family, "Nothing can bring Jennifer back. We miss her every day and will forever mourn her loss."

The main suspect's death leaves many questions about Jennifer Dulos unanswered

The Dulos case took a challenging turn later that January. Fortis Dulos, who was out on a $6 million bond and under house arrest, attempted to take his own life on January 28. This incident happened shortly before he was due in court for a hearing about revoking his bail and putting him back in jail (via the Hartford Courant). He was taken to the hospital to be treated for carbon monoxide poisoning and later transferred to another facility where he succumbed to his injuries. He left a suicide note, in which he claimed that "I refuse spend even an hour more in jail for something that I had NOTHING [sic] to do with" (via ABC News). 

After Dulos' death, prosecutors continued to pursue the cases against his alleged accomplices. Both Mawhinney and Troconis are awaiting the start of their trials for their purported roles in Jennifer Farber Dulos' disappearance. The Covid-19 pandemic has significantly slowed the judicial process in these cases.

On May 24, 2021, the second anniversary of Dulos' disappearance, Carrie Luft released a special statement from her friends and family (NBC Connecticut). Jennifer was remembered as "an extraordinary woman, a devoted mother and daughter, a brilliant writer, a true friend." Her five children were described as "healthy and well" despite their tremendous loss.