Jennifer Dulos still missing as disappearance hits 3-year mark
The mystery surrounding Jennifer Dulos continues as her disappearance hits its three-year mark. Focus also continues on protecting victims of domestic violence.
Three years have passed since Jennifer Dulos was reported missing, launching a multi-agency investigation into her disappearance that garnered national attention.
The investigation into what may have happened to Jennifer spanned multiple areas across the state from a park in New Canaan to a garbage dump in Hartford. Jennifer's estranged husband, Fotis Dulos, was eventually charged with murder in connection with her disappearance.
Eight months later, he died by suicide before the case could continue.
A statement released Tuesday morning by friends and family of Jennifer says her children are doing well and they await the next steps in the legal process:
May 24, 2022, marks three years since Jennifer Farber Dulos was murdered and disappeared. We feel the immeasurable loss of her person every day; we also delight in her presence and celebrate her spirit as they manifest in her five incredible children. We are deeply grateful that Jennifer’s children are thriving and her mother, Gloria, is healthy and well.
There is still an open investigation into Jennifer’s murder and disappearance, and we are indebted to the Connecticut State Police for their ongoing dedication to this case. As court proceedings have resumed, we await the next steps in the legal process for the two key individuals who have yet to stand trial.
Above all, we miss Jennifer more than words can express, and we are thankful for the continuing support. In Jennifer’s memory, we ask that you hold your loved ones extra close and make time to laugh with friends. Please also remember that there are many missing and murdered people whose stories are never covered in the press, whose families and loved ones continue to grieve. You can help by supporting local organizations that assist survivors of intimate partner violence and by encouraging the press to give equal attention to all victims.
Three years out and there's still no information as to where Jennifer may be, while domestic violence awareness advocates and resource groups continue their push for more protections.
Jennifer Dulos was reported missing by friends around 7 p.m. Friday, May 24, 2019.
Her friends told New Canaan police they had not heard from Jennifer for around 10 hours that day and she had missed several appointments. The last time Jennifer reportedly had contact with anyone was when she dropped her children off at school earlier that day.
Police said that after the initial report, investigators went to Jennifer’s New Canaan home to check in on her. Officers did not find her.
A short time later, the Suburban she drove was found on Lapham Road near Waveny Park in New Canaan. The discovery launched the investigation.
Her disappearance began with a Silver Alert after K9 units from surrounding agencies were not able to find her. The Silver Alert was also a criminal investigation after police discovered blood inside the Suburban.
In a short amount of time after the report of her disappearance, court records emerged, detailing the tense custody battle with her estranged husband, Fotis Dulos. In 2017, she told the court she was "afraid" of her husband. She said, "I know he will retaliate by trying to harm me in some way."
Fotis was the owner of the construction company Fore Group, which built luxury homes in the area.
RELATED: Police are still searching for missing New Canaan woman who told court she was ‘afraid’ of her husband
On June 2, Fotis and his girlfriend Michelle Troconis were arrested and charged with tampering or fabricating physical evidence and hampering an investigation. Both were held on a $500,000 bond at the time.
The arrests came after investigators descended onto two Farmington locations connected with Fotis, including a property at 80 Mountain Springs Road. The home was being renovated by the Fore Group. Two miles away, investigators searched Fotis’ Farmington home on Jefferson Crossing.
According to the arrest warrant, there were several bloodstains found on the garage floor in Jennifer’s home. The warrant also stated the blood was found in Fotis' garage when officials looked as well.
The warrant had said that Fotis’ phone had pinged him traveling back and forth between two properties he owns in Farmington throughout the day on May 24. Around 7 p.m. that day, records showed that Fotis and Troconis had traveled to the area of Albany Avenue in Hartford.
RELATED: State police conclude search at MIRA trash plant in Hartford in connection with Jennifer Dulos case
The investigation soon led to the MIRA trash plant in Hartford as police reviewing video footage from Albany Avenue believed Fotis and Troconis were dumping evidence. Investigators had already searched storm drains and dumpsters the previous week but had found nothing.
The following day, troopers were out searching a pond in Avon they had searched on May 31 as well. The pond is where Fotis and their children would reportedly water ski at times, officials said.
On June 25, investigators concluded their search at MIRA.
Months passed by as investigators continued to piece together the case. In September, new court documents revealed more details about the early days of the investigation.
Fotis was taken into custody once more on September 4.
In the arrest warrant, state police stated that Troconis admitted to police on June 2 that she could not account for Fotis’ whereabouts on the morning Jennifer went missing. The warrant also stated that Fotis and Troconis wrote “alibi scripts” detailing where they were, but Troconis reportedly later stated the details were false.
Police at the time also believed that Fotis had driven Jennifer’s Suburban with her body inside along with items to help clean up the evidence.
The warrant also stated that one of Fotis’ workers told officers that Fotis ordered him to change out the seats of Fotis’ vehicle. When investigators found the seats, they were sent away for testing. Lab technicians reportedly then found a blood-like substance matching Jennifer’s DNA on those seats.
The worker reportedly told state police that he met with Fotis and Troconis on Mountain Spring Road where they were “cleaning.”
A week after Fotis’ second arrest, a Stamford Superior Court judge issued a gag order.
The search continued as investigators hit West Hartford Reservoir and continued pursuing leads into Jennifer’s disappearance and what may have happened to her.
One week into 2020, Fotis was arrested and charged with murder in connection with Jennifer’s disappearance. He was held on a $6 million bond.
Troconis was also arrested and charged with conspiracy to commit murder. A third suspect, Kent Mawhinney, was also charged with conspiracy to commit murder. He was Fotis’ civil lawyer and friend.
Mawhinney was a new arrest in connection with the investigation.
RELATED: PD: Fotis Dulos charged with murder, felony murder; Troconis, Mawhinney charged with conspiracy to commit murder
In Mawhinney’s arrest warrant, his name appeared in both Troconis’ and Fotis’ alibis for the morning Jennifer was reported missing.
Mawhinney was interviewed twice by police after. First, officials said he claimed there was no meeting scheduled between Fotis and himself on the morning of Jennifer’s disappearance.
In his second interview, he reportedly stated said there was a pre-arranged meeting with Fotis, stating he arrived at Fotis’ Jefferson Crossing home just before 8 a.m. where he stood for almost an hour before leaving without seeing Dulos.
The warrant said phone records showed Mawhinney had called Fotis the night of May 24, when Fotis was allegedly dumping bloody bags of evidence in Hartford, but Mawhinney denied any phone contact with Fotis that day.
Mawhinney had been arrested before. He’s facing an allegation of sexual assault and was charged with violating a protective order last year, filed by his estranged wife. His wife also stated that she believed that Mawhinney was trying to kill her.
Also in Mawhinney’s arrest warrant, the Windsor Rod and Gun Club in East Granby was mentioned. Two members were reportedly hunting on the land when they came across a large hole in the ground that appeared to be hidden. One of the members described the hole as “100 percent a human grave” stating inside the hole was a bag of lime and a tarp.
The Death of Fotis Dulos:
On January 28, Fotis was due to arrive at Stamford Superior Court for a bond hearing. It was there his bondholder was being questioned over the real estate assets that Fotis had put up to secure his bond and release.
But Fotis never showed up that morning.
Police were called to Fotis’ home shortly before noon for a well-being check after he didn’t show. When officers arrived, they found Fotis sitting in his SUV in his garage. Officials would later say that the SUV was running, and the garage doors were closed.
After first responders pulled him from the garage performing CPR, Fotis was rushed to UConn Medical Center where he was then flown by LifeStar to Jacobi Medical Center in The Bronx.
While at Jacobi Medical Center, Fotis was treated for carbon monoxide poisoning in a hyperbaric chamber.
Two days later, just after 5:30 p.m., Fotis Dulos was pronounced dead.
Although Fotis took his life, the case continues on through Troconis and Mawhinney, and the search continues for Jennifer.
New legislation has also been passed, called Jennifers’ Law, to help protect against domestic violence and abuse.
In December 2021, investigators returned to Waveny Park in New Canaan. It wasn’t clear what they were looking for, only that it was in connection with Jennifer’s disappearance. Police did not provide extra details on that search.
For Troconis and Mawhinney, the case continues.
Troconis no longer lives in Connecticut but remains wearing a GPS monitor tracking device. She’s expected next in court on June 7, still charged with tampering with evidence, hindering the investigation into Jennifer’s disappearance, and conspiracy to commit murder.
Troconis has been in court on and off over the last two years, arguing to have her terms of release lessened, in particular by removing the GPS tracking device. A judge has not granted her request.
Mawhinney has been released from custody after spending time at the Department of Corrections facility in Cheshire. He still faces his charge of conspiracy to commit murder in connection to Jennifer’s disappearance.
In May 2021, Mawhinney argued to have his GPS monitoring device removed, saying he had been compliant with bond guidelines and had taken known trips to Florida without incident. The judge declined the request.
In January 2022, a judge put Mawhinney’s case on a trial list, meaning any court hearings pre-trial will be put off indefinitely.
RELATED: Kent Mawhinney, charged in connection to Jennifer Dulos disapperance, denied ankle monitoring removal
The Focus on Domestic Violence:
One of the lasting impacts of Jennifer’s disappearance is it helped push a domestic violence protection bill into law.
Jennifers' Law is named for both Jennifer Dulos and Jennifer Magnano. Magnano was shot and killed in front of her children on August 18, 2007, by her estranged husband at the time, Scott.
The law is 40 pages long and went into effect on October 1, 2021. The law’s intention is to help save lives by giving domestic abuse victims more tools to fight back against a controlling or dangerous relationship before it escalates to violence.
Experts said the most profound piece of the new law is expanding the definition of domestic violence to include “coercive control.”
The law defines it as “a pattern of behavior that in purpose or effect unreasonably interferes with a person’s free will and personal liberty.” The law includes isolation, controlling, regulating, monitoring, threatening behavior, and financial abuse as “coercive control.”
Victim's rights and family attorney Michelle Cruz wrote the report on Magnano’s tragic death when she was the State Victim Advocate in 2007. The report highlighted the systemic failures in both the civil and criminal justice systems. She said Magnano wasn't the only case.
“The courts have not been able to keep them safe," said Cruz, "Part of the problem is coercive control has not been understood in the community, in the court system.”
Cruz said another law was implemented after Magnano’s death. It allowed domestic violence victims to attend court hearings remotely.
She claims the law's implementation is a cautionary tale for Jennifer’s Law.
“In 2008 moving forward it was rarely used, most people didn’t know it existed," said Cruz. "So we had this great law that we had to protect victims and it was never implemented.”
She believes judges, attorneys, victims’ advocates, and all court support staff need to be educated and trained on the concept of coercive control.
Domestic Violence in Connecticut:
Jennifer Dulos and Magnano were two cases of a larger, systemic issue of domestic violence. Since Jennifer Dulos disappeared:
On May 11, 2022, Richard Dabate was found guilty of murdering his wife Connie in their Ellington home in 2015. At the time of the investigation, Dabate admitted he had been having an affair with another woman at the time of Connie's murder.
In November 2021, Grace Zielinska was allegedly murdered by her husband Kamil Zielinski. Zielinski was charged with murder and risk of injury. According to the affidavit, a bloody ax was found at the scene. A 3-year-old was also home at the time.
Tyrese Worthy was wanted by Meriden police in connection with the fatal shooting of 37-year-old Dominique Curtis. Meriden officials did not provide details on Cutis and Worthy's connection to each other, but the department provided resources for domestic violence help when they first reported the homicide. Worthy was found dead in New Haven two weeks later. Police believe he took his own life.
In 2021, 30-year-old Jessica Edwards was last seen by her family on Mother's Day. An intense search for her began as family members and friends were concerned for her safety. A little over a week later, Edwards' body was found in an East Hartford park. According to officials, Edwards' husband, 22-year-old Tahj Hutchinson, reportedly confessed to killing her during an argument. He has since been charged with murder, risk of injury to a child, and tampering with evidence.
On July 15, 2020, the body of Lizzbeth Aleman-Popoca was found in a "shallow grave" behind a Branford restaurant. She had not been heard from since July 1. Her live-in boyfriend, Jonathan Jara-Acuapina, was charged with murder in connection with her death.
In December 2019, an Amber Alert was issued for missing 1-year-old Vanessa Morales after her mother, Christine Holloway, was found brutally murdered in her home. Jose Morales, Vanessa's father and Holloway's boyfriend at the time, was charged in connection with Holloway's murder. Vanessa has not been found since she was reported missing.
These are only a few of the many cases of domestic violence that many face at home.
One in 4 women and 1 in 9 men experience severe intimate partner physical violence, intimate partner contact sexual violence, and/or intimate partner stalking with impacts such as injury, fearfulness, post-traumatic stress disorder, etc. according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV). One in 15 children is exposed to intimate partner violence each year, and 90% of these children are eyewitnesses to this violence, according to NCADV.
Domestic violence awareness advocates continue to spread the message of help and understanding when it comes to this serious issue.
For anonymous, confidential help you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE) or 1-800-787-3224 (TTY).
For more information on resources on how you can seek help or for someone in your life, you can also visit CT Coalition Against Domestic Violence www.ctcadv.org as well as contact CT Safe Connect at 1-888-774-2900 for those who looking to be connected with an advocate.
RELATED: The Real Story: Jennifers' Law
Jennifer Glatz is a digital content producer at FOX61 News. She can be reached at email@example.com.
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