The murder case of a missing Connecticut mom of five was officially closed March 3, nearly a year after she vanished.
When 50-year-old Jennifer Dulos vanished from New Canaan, her family was left devastated. Her her estranged husband, 52-year-old Fotis Dulos, and his girlfriend, 44-year-old Michelle Troconis, were both charged in connection with the case.
Her husband was eventually charged with murdering his wife, though her body has not been found. He was pronounced dead on Jan. 30, two days after attempting suicide. A judge granted the prosecution's request to dismiss charges against the deceased husband on March 3.
But defense lawyers objected, and offered an alternate theory: that Fotis Dulos had been framed for the killing of Jennifer, claiming he "panicked" after finding bloody clothes on the family's porch and then driving them to a dumpster.
This is what we know about the case.
Jennifer Goes Missing, Family Devastated
On May 24, 2019 Jennifer's friends reported her missing after they didn't hear from her for 10 hours. She dropped her kids off at school but then didn’t show up for multiple appointments she had that day, police said. Jennifer was last seen driving a black Chevrolet Suburban, police said.
The SUV was located in town later that day, but the mom was nowhere to be found.
"It's devastating, a heartbreaking situation," family friend Carrie Luft told “Good Morning America” at the time. "We are all incredibly concerned, but very hopeful she will come back to us safe and sound and a great deal of what is keeping everyone going is the outpouring of support from the public."
Fotis Dulos and Girlfriend Arrested on Murder Charges
On Jan. 7, 2020, Fotis was arrested and charged with capital murder, nine months after Jennifer vanished. Troconis was arrested on conspiracy to commit murder charges. Her bail was set at $2 million, and then lowered to $1.5 million. His was set at $6 million. Both were arraigned on Jan. 8, but didn't enter pleas.
They posted bail on Jan. 9 and were released, but ordered to house confinement.
On June 1, 2019, police took Fotis and Troconis into custody in Avon, Connecticut. They were both charged with tampering with evidence and hindering prosecution.
Police accused the couple of driving four miles in Hartford on the day Jennifer disappeared and disposing of garbage bags in 30 different locations, including trash receptacles and a storm drain.
Video reportedly captured footage of the pair’s activities.
Some of the items recovered, like clothing and sponges, had Jennifer’s blood on them, police said.
Police also said blood stains were found in Jennifer’s garage, as well as signs of a “serious physical assault.” Authorities also noted there were signs someone had attempted to clean the blood.
On June 11, prosecutors revealed that they’d found Fotis’ DNA on a sink in Jennifer’s home.
Fotis pleaded not guilty to the charges against him and was quickly released on $500,000 bond after putting up his retirement fund as collateral. Troconis pleaded not guilty as well and was also freed on bail.
At the time, Fotis’ attorney, Norm Pattis, said a murder charge was unlikely.
“I would ask everyone to put aside the easy narrative here, that an angry ex-spouse took matters into his own hands to resolve a custody dispute. That didn’t happen. Having said that, I don’t know what happened,” Pattis said.
Fotis Dulos Dies After Attempted Suicide
On Jan. 28, Dulos attempted to take his own life in the garage of his Connecticut mansion. Officers arrived at his house after he failed to appear at a court hearing on whether to revoke his $6 million bail. He was rushed to a local hospital, then airlifted to New York City, where he was placed on life support in a special chamber for the treatment of carbon monoxide poisoning. He was listed in critical condition. He was pronounced dead two days later.
The Divorce and Custody Battle
Jennifer had filed for divorce from Fotis in 2017, after having been married 13 years. They had been battling in court ever since.
Earlier in the proceedings, Jennifer had told a judge she feared her husband would kidnap her children or kill her. A judge issued a protective order in 2017 and temporary emergency custody to the mom, according to the Hartford Courant.
Weeks later, the order was lifted. The judge established there was no “immediate and present risk of physical danger,” and the parents were given joint custody of their children, who range in age from 8 to 13. Fotis denied he ever posed a threat to Jennifer or their children, according to reports.
Fotis was also in a legal battle with Jennifer’s father, who is now deceased, over a $1.7 million loan that Fotis allegedly never paid back.
Jennifer also accused Fotis of infidelity in court documents and called his behavior “irrational, unsafe, bullying, threatening, and controlling,” The Advocate reported.
In court papers, Jennifer referred to Troconis as her husband's "paramour" and claimed he wanted her to move into the "marital home."
"When I disagreed, he became enraged," she claimed in the papers.
Since Jennifer’s disappearance, her mother has filed for custody of the couple’s five children, who are currently staying with her.
Searching For Answers
Fotis’ attorney released a statement speculating on what could have happened to Jennifer.
“We have been provided a very dark 500-plus page novel Jennifer wrote. We are reviewing it now. We are also investigating new information regarding $14,000 worth of medical bills re tests just before she disappeared. We don’t know what had become of Jennifer but the 'Gone Girl' hypothesis is very much on our mind,” Pattis said.
But Jennifer's family called that "'Gone Girl' hypothesis" a "classic act of desperation to slander the victim."
“Four weeks have elapsed since Jennifer Farber Dulos disappeared. None of this feels real. We tell ourselves that this kind of nightmare happens to people in stories, not to those we know and love,” Jennifer's family said in a statement.
“But this situation is real, and it is dire. Each passing day intensifies the impact of this tragedy on Jennifer’s children, who have not seen their mother—the guiding presence in their lives—in 28 days.”