A Connecticut mystery 1 year later: A timeline of the Jennifer Dulos, Fotis Dulos case
iStock/ijoe84By: EMILY SHAPIRO, ABC News
(NEW CANAAN, Conn.) — Immediately after Connecticut mom Jennifer Dulos mysteriously vanished on May 24, 2019, during a custody dispute, her estranged husband, Fotis Dulos, was under suspicion.
But it wasn’t until January 2020 that Fotis Dulos was arrested for her murder. A few weeks after his arrest, he died from an apparent suicide.
The body of Jennifer Dulos has never been found.
One year after Jennifer Dulos’ disappearance, here’s a timeline of the case, from the divorce filing to her husband’s arrest and death.
2017: A contentious separation
Jennifer Dulos and Fotis Dulos married in 2004 and filed for divorce in 2017.
In 2017, Jennifer Dulos filed for an emergency order for full custody of their five children, which was denied, court documents show. Jennifer and Fotis Dulos were granted shared custody of the children until the end of the divorce proceedings.
Jennifer Dulos alleged that her husband exhibited intensifying “irrational, unsafe, bullying, threatening and controlling behavior,” stating that she was afraid for her safety as well as the physical safety and emotional well-being of their children.
The New Canaan mother alleged that Fotis Dulos threatened to kidnap their children in May 2017 if she did not agree to his terms in the divorce settlement and that he had bought a gun that year.
She alleged that on June 3, 2017, Fotis Dulos “became enraged, appeared out of control, and blamed me for scheduling activities for the children on a Saturday morning… I was scared and tried to leave the room. He followed me upstairs and into a bedroom, where he shut the door and blocked it so that I was trapped as he verbally attacked me and physically intimidated me.”
“I am afraid of my Husband,” Jennifer Dulos alleged. “I know that filing for divorce, and filing this Motion will enrage him. I know he will retaliate by trying to harm me in some way.”
In Fotis Dulos’ amended reply to the motion, he claimed he legally bought the gun in 2017 for home security.
He denied exhibiting “irrational, unsafe, bullying, threatening and/or controlling behavior.”
Fotis Dulos stated that he never threatened to kidnap the children and never “physically threatened, stalked or assaulted” his wife.
Fotis Dulos also stated that his wife called him a psychopath and told the children that he does not care about them. In addition, Fotis Dulos claimed that his wife said to the children, “I will make sure this divorce takes two and a half years,” and “I can have the Mafia break your dad’s legs with a baseball bat.”
Fotis Dulos said in a Dec. 2017 email to his wife: “Our children deserve a mother AND a father, not one or the other. And if we cannot live together, we can at least get along for their sake and benefit.”
May 2019: Jennifer Dulos vanishes
Jennifer Dulos, 50, was last seen on May 24, 2019.
She was last heard from while dropping off her children at school, according to police, who say she was believed to be driving her 2017 black Chevrolet Suburban at the time.
Her vehicle was later found near Waveny Park in New Canaan, police said.
Investigators believe Jennifer Dulos suffered a “serious physical assault” in her garage, where blood stains and blood spatter were found, according to arrest warrants.
“We miss her beyond measure — her five young children, her family, her friends, colleagues and neighbors, as well as countless people who have never met her but who have responded to the spirit of grace and kindness that Jennifer embodies,” family spokesperson Carrie Luft said in a statement.
The Dulos’ five children remain in the custody of Jennifer Dulos’ mother.
June 2019: Arrests
Fotis Dulos, 51, of Farmington, and his live-in girlfriend, Michelle Troconis, 44, were arrested on June 1, charged with tampering with or fabricating physical evidence and hindering prosecution, according to authorities.
They both pleaded not guilty.
Clothes and sponges with Jennifer Dulos’ blood were found in trash cans in Hartford, where the documents said surveillance cameras captured a man appearing to be Fotis Dulos disposing of garbage bags in multiple receptacles, according to the documents. A woman in the passenger seat of the man’s car fit the appearance of Troconis, according to the documents.
Norm Pattis, Fotis Dulos’ attorney, told ABC News on June 11 that he can’t account for the surveillance footage or the bags in the dumpster. But he insists his client didn’t kill his wife and doesn’t know where she is.
Based on the timeline of the day Jennifer Dulos went missing, “it seems to be implausible” that Fotis Dulos could have killed her, his attorney said at the time.
“The alibi is enormous,” Pattis said. “We are anxious to meet those accusations and clear his name.”
July 2019: Fotis Dulos speaks out
Fotis Dulos released a rare public statement in July, saying he understands “the public’s perception of me as a monster given the little they know about the case.”
“But I trust the system and the process and ask the public to do the same,” he said.
“My children are the center of my world,” he also said. “I worry about them and Jennifer, and I would tell them that I know it is hard now but everything IS going to be alright eventually.”
September 2019: Another arrest
Fotis Dulos and Troconis were arrested again in September on another charge of tampering with evidence. They pleaded not guilty.
January 2020: Murder charges
Fotis Dulos was taken into custody by Connecticut State Police at his home on Jan. 7, 2020, and was charged with capital murder, murder and kidnapping, police said.
Authorities allege Jennifer Dulos was killed at her home on May 24, 2019 between 8:05 a.m. and 10:25 a.m — after she returned from taking her children to school, according to an arrest warrant.
Police claim Fotis Dulos bound Jennifer Dulos with zip ties, put her inside her own car and cleaned the garage, according to an arrest warrant.
Pattis told ABC News, “Mr. Dulos has contended he’s not guilty.”
Troconis was charged with conspiracy to commit murder. Kent Mawhinney, an attorney and a friend of Fotis Dulos, was charged with conspiracy to commit murder. They pleaded not guilty.
January 2020: Fotis Dulos dies from suicide
On Jan. 28, 2020, Fotis Dulos was hospitalized in critical condition to be treated for carbon monoxide poisoning, after his attorney said he attempted suicide at his Farmington, Connecticut, home.
After Fotis Dulos failed to show up for his emergency bail hearing, officers performed a wellness check at his house, according to the Farmington police.
Through a window, the officers saw him in the garage. Fotis Dulos was unresponsive, but officers determined CPR was required and called for an ambulance.
Fotis Dulos died on Jan. 30 at a New York City hospital, said his attorney.
Fotis Dulos allegedly hand-wrote a suicide note proclaiming his innocence and that of everyone charged.
“I refuse to spend even an hour more in jail for something I had NOTHING to do with,” he allegedly wrote in the note, which ABC News obtained from a source.
“I want it to be known that Michelle Troconis had nothing to do with Jennifer’s disappearance. And neither did Kent Mawhinney,” he added.
March 2020: Murder case ends
On March 3, a judge granted a nolle prosequi request by prosecutors to dismiss the murder charges against Fotis Dulos, ending that criminal case.
The nolle prosequi is not an acquittal but an acknowledgement of the reality that the prosecution of Fotis Dulos cannot continue. It gives prosecutors one year to re-file the charges or they are dismissed. It also lifts the gag order imposed on the parties and frees witnesses from their obligations.
Pattis had asked the court to continue the case so he could attempt to clear Fotis Dulos’ name by substituting his estate as the defendant.
At the March 3 hearing, Pattis said his client was framed. Pattis claimed someone murdered Jennifer Dulos and dumped a pile of bloody clothing on the family porch. Those, Pattis said, were the items Fotis Dulos was seen on surveillance video dumping into the trash on a Hartford street.
May 2020: Pandemic puts cases on pause
Troconis and Mawhinney remain charged, but the coronavirus pandemic has put their cases on pause.
“Not one step has advanced in this case,” Troconis’ attorney, Jon Schoenhorn, told NBC Connecticut this month.
Mawhinney, who is in custody, is due in court on June 2.
Troconis, who is in Connecticut under house arrest, is next in court on August 6.
Troconis said in a new statement this week, “I know nothing about Jennifer Dulos’ whereabouts or what may have happened to her.”
“To those who are quick to judge people they do not know, let me say this: It is possible to misjudge others. Whether or not Fotis Dulos was capable of doing the things the police and prosecutors accused him of doing, I do not know,” Troconis said. “But based on what I have learned in the last year, I think it was a mistake to have trusted him.”
If you are struggling with thoughts of suicide or worried about a friend or loved one help is available. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 [TALK] — for free confidential emotional support 24 hours a day 7 days a week. Even if it feels like it — you are not alone.
ABC News’ Aaron Katersky and Caila Klaiss contributed to this report.
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