After more than seven months since Jennifer Dulos vanished, her estranged husband and his former girlfriend have been charged Tuesday with her murder.
Dulos likely suffered a “non-survivable” injury, according to Connecticut Chief Medical Examiner James R. Gill, as detailed in arrest warrants for Dulos’ estranged husband Fotis Dulos and his ex-girlfriend Michelle Troconis.
Gill described Dulos’ death as a “homicide of violence” that likely included traumatic blunt-force injuries such as bludgeoning and stabbing.
The warrant describes Jennifer Dulos being tied up with zip ties at one point during the alleged attack. Four ties were used, according to the report, and two were found with Jennifer Dulos’ blood.
“It appears the zip ties were used to secure and incapacitate Jennifer Dulos,” the warrant reads. “It is reasonable that Jennifer Dulos was alive at the time the zip ties were attached to restrain her movements and to prevent her escape.”
State Police took Fotis Dulos, 52, into custody at his Jefferson Crossing home in Farmington on Tuesday morning. He was taken to Troop G in Bridgeport, where he was formally charged with capital murder, murder and kidnapping.
Fotis Dulos and Troconis, 44, — who was charged with conspiracy to commit murder — have been free on bail since previously being charged with tampering with evidence and hindering prosecution in the May 24 disappearance. Troconis’ bond was set at $2 million.
READ MORE: The case against Fotis Dulos and Michelle Troconis
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READ MORE: Former Fotis Dulos attorney accused of spousal rape, wanting his wife ‘dead’
READ MORE: Court filing: Fotis Dulos offered house as sex pad to help mend lawyer’s marriage
Fotis Dulos is being held on a $6 million bond and is expected to be arraigned Wednesday in state Superior Court in Stamford, according to his attorney, Norm Pattis.
Pattis said he expects his client will post the bond. Pattis said in a “paradoxical way,” the defense is “relieved” the murder charge has been filed so they can see the state’s full case.
Pattis said the defense has known for several weeks that the murder charge was “imminent.”
During a press conference late Tuesday afternoon Pattis attacked the state’s case against his client.
“We are obviously chastened by the fact that the state thinks there is sufficient evidence to pursue Mr. Dulos for such serious crimes, but frankly, we are very encouraged by our preliminary review of the warrants,” Pattis said. “We categorically deny that Mr. Dulos had any involvement in the disappearance of his wife, Jennifer, and we defy the state to prove that she is, in fact, dead.”
Pattis went on to say the state showed a “shocking lack of confidence” in its case by charging Dulos with murder and felony murder rooted in kidnapping — which Pattis said indicated law enforcement officials were unsure of their theory of the case.
He called the state’s case against Dulos insufficient.
“If this is all the state’s got, we wonder why it bothered,” Pattis said. “We are very confident in our odds at trial and we look forward to meeting these allegations in open court, beginning tomorrow.”
The arrest warrant for Fotis Dulos includes little information from the Farmington man. The warrant states, “Dulos has provided absolutely no cooperation to law enforcement in their investigation into Jennifer’s disappearance.”
Instead, much of the warrant details conflicting statements made by Troconis.
“In each of her interviews, Troconis offered claims which conflicted with her other interviews,” the warrant states.
For instance, Troconis first told police that she was with Fotis Dulos until 8:15 a.m. the morning of Jennifer Dulos’ disappearance, and that she spent the morning with him at his home in Farmington. If true, it would have provided an alibi for Dulos’ whereabouts.
But when police informed her that evidence showed Dulos was not there, Troconis covered her face with her hands, wiped her eyes, and tried to change the subject, according to the warrant.
Eventually, Troconis admitted to lying to investigators and told them Fotis was in fact not home in the morning when she woke up.
When asked if there was tension between her and Fotis because his impending divorce, Troconis said, “We fight all the time.” Fotis Dulos once told her, “Sometimes I hope she disappears,” in reference to Jennifer.
Carrie Luft, a spokeswoman for Jennifer Dulos’ family and friends, thanked authorities for their “diligent, painstaking work,” and said “we believe the arrest warrants will speak for themselves.”
“Although we are relieved that the wait for these charges is over, for us there is no sense of closure,” Luft said. “Nothing can bring Jennifer back. We miss her every day and will forever mourn her loss.”
A third person, Fotis Dulos’ former civil attorney Kent Douglas Mawhinney, is expected to be charged with conspiracy to commit murder in the case.
On Tuesday, Mawhinney was detained at gunpoint during a traffic stop in Tolland.
His warrant has not yet been released by state police.
Of Mawhinney’s arrest, Pattis said during his Tuesday afternoon press conference that it was a surprise. Pattis said Mawhinney “plays virtually no role of substance” in the case.
Mawhinney, a South Windsor lawyer who represented Fotis Dulos in the $2.5 million lawsuits filed by his mother-in-law, had previously been charged with violating a protective order in his own divorce. He was accused of having Fotis Dulos contact his estranged wife on his behalf, according to his arrest warrant.
Mawhinney was also charged last January with sexual assault in a spousal or cohabiting relationship, second-degree unlawful restraint and disorderly conduct, according to online state judicial records.
Mawhinney’s wife alleged that her husband wanted her “dead.”
Soon after Fotis Dulos was originally charged in his own wife’s disappearance, Mawhinney requested to be removed as his civil attorney.
William Murray replaced Mawhinney and represented Fotis Dulos in the two-day civil trial last month in Hartford. On Tuesday, Murray said he believes his client is innocent.
“I’ve probably known him since August, I don’t think he did it,” Murray said. “I think he’s innocent. Something weird obviously went on, but I’d be interested in seeing what the arrest warrants say.”
Murray does not believe the murder charge will impact the lawsuits.
“The new arrest shouldn’t affect Mr. Dulos’ credibility as a witness in the trial,” Murray said.
Shortly after Fotis Dulos was taken into custody, New Canaan police tweeted “Justice!”
Pattis arrived at Dulos’ Farmington home about 10 minutes before state police arrived. He said “a well-placed rumor seemed credible enough for me to come here.”
Pattis said he was not surprised the state decided to bring the charge. “I will be surprised if they can win it. Mr. Dulos contends he was not involved and I don’t think the evidence will show that he was.”
According to arrest warrants, police believe Fotis Dulos was “lying in wait” when Jennifer Dulos arrived home from dropping off their children at school in New Canaan around 8:05 a.m. May 24.
Inside the home, police found Jennifer Dulos’ blood on one garage wall, the garage door, and in two separate sinks.
Lauren Almeida, a childcare employee hired by Jennifer Dulos to look after her children, was interviewed by police during the investigation.
She said when she got to Jennifer’s home the morning of the alleged attack, she noticed the roll of paper towels near the sink needed to be replaced. She went to the pantry and noticed there were only two fresh rolls left, which she found “incredibly strange,” since she had placed 12 new rolls there the night before.
“I sat there and wondered what had happened last night that the used ten rolls of towel rolls,” Almeida told investigators.
Later in the day, she tried multiple times to reach Jennifer Dulos on her phone, to no avail.
“Immediately, my stomach sank,” she said. “In the almost seven years that I have worked for Jennifer, I never ever had a hard time reaching her.”
She added, “My first thought was that Fotis did something.”
Police said two people resembling Fotis Dulos and his former girlfriend Michelle Troconis were captured on video in Hartford later that night around the time his estranged wife was reported missing.
A man police contend is Fotis Dulos was seen on the videos dumping bags that were later determined to contain his wife’s blood and clothing, the warrants said.
A separate arrest warrant said Fotis Dulos and Troconis took a red Toyota Tacoma pickup truck belonging to a Fore Group employee to a car wash in the days after the disappearance. Police said in the warrant that they believe Fotis Dulos drove the truck to New Canaan the morning of the disappearance.
Fotis Dulos also urged the employee to remove the seats, which were later found to contain his wife’s blood, according to the warrant.
However, Pattis has offered alternative explanations for the disappearance that have led to a gag order being issued in the case.
Pattis, who appealed the gag order last month to the state Supreme Court, has said his defense team was investigating whether Jennifer Dulos purposely vanished to get back at her husband much like the novel “Gone Girl,” by Gillian Flynn.
Pattis has also publicly questioned whether Jennifer Dulos was seriously ill based on $14,000 worth of medical bills his client received in the months leading up to her disappearance and suggested she could have perpetrated a “revenge suicide” plot.
The arrests brought praise from Karen Jarmo, chief executive officer of the Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
“Jennifer Farber Dulos was one of 14 individuals killed by an intimate partner in Connecticut in 2019. We applaud the arrest of those suspected of involvement in her death and thank all of the law enforcement agencies, federal, state and local, and the State’s Attorney’s office for their diligence in ensuring that these persons are held accountable for their deplorable actions,” Jarmo said in a statement.
“Foremost, let us all take a moment to remember Jennifer and all of those we have lost to domestic violence. A gaping hole has been left in the lives of her five children, her mother, and all of her friends and family. Jennifer loved her children fiercely and they have been robbed of irreplaceable experiences with her because of someone else’s desire to have permanent and absolute control. This trauma will forever impact each of their lives.”
Staff writer Jim Shay contributed to this report.