Sunday, March 29, 2020

Estranged husband accused of killing Jennifer Dulos dies

A man charged with murdering his wife who went missing amid a contentious divorce case died Thursday, his lawyer said. Fotis Dulos, 52, had been hospitalized since Tuesday when he was found at his home in Farmington, Connecticut, following an apparent suicide attempt.

“It’s been a truly horrific day for the family filled with difficult decisions, medical tests and meeting the requirements to determine death,” attorney Norm Pattis said.

“To those who contend that Mr. Dulos’ death reflects a consciousness of guilt, we say no,” he added. “We say it was more a conscience overborne with the weight of a world that was too busy to listen and wanted a story more than it wanted the truth.”

Dulos, a luxury home builder originally from Greece, was accused of killing Jennifer Dulos, who has not been seen since she dropped their five children off at school in May in New Canaan. Her body has not been found despite extensive searches. Fotis Dulos had denied any role in her disappearance.

The children, who ranged in age from 8 to 13 when their mother vanished, are in the custody of their maternal grandmother in New York City. 

“This is a horrific tragedy all around,” said Carrie Luft, a spokeswoman for the family of Jennifer Dulos.

Dulos insisted he was innocent in a note found near him, according to a court motion filed by his lawyers Thursday. In the note recovered by police officers, Dulos “declared his innocence of the infamous and heinous crimes that the state has accused him of and claimed his lawyers have the evidence to prove it,” his lawyers wrote in the filing asking a judge to order the state to preserve the note and other evidence found at the home.

On the day Fotis Dulos was found unresponsive, he had been facing an emergency bond hearing where he could have been sent back to jail. The company that originally posted the $6 million bond had learned that two properties offered as collateral were subject to foreclosure and a third was overvalued. 

Police officers who went to check on Dulos because he was late for the hearing saw through a garage window that he was in medical distress. Emergency responders forced their way into the garage and medics performed CPR for about 30 minutes; he was taken to a hospital by ambulance after a pulse was discovered, Farmington police said Thursday. A lawyer for Dulos, and others, initially said he had died before saying a pulse had been found.

Dulos was eventually transferred to the Jacobi Medical Center in New York City for treatment. 

Fotis Dulos was arrested Jan. 7 on murder and kidnapping charges, capping a lengthy investigation in which he emerged early as the primary suspect. 

Warrants released last summer, when Dulos was charged initially with evidence tampering and hindering prosecution, said that he and a girlfriend were seen on video surveillance driving in Hartford around the time Jennifer Dulos was reported missing. The man was seen tossing garbage bags into more than 30 trash bins in the area that were later determined to have items with Jennifer Dulos’ blood on them.

Items in the garbage bags included clothing belonging to Jennifer Dulos and plastic zip ties that later tested positive for her DNA.

In filings in the two-year divorce proceedings, Jennifer Dulos said she was worried for her safety and that of the couple’s children.

In the arrest warrants, police suggested a possible financial motive, saying Fotis Dulos was $7 million in debt and would have had some access to the children’s trust funds if Jennifer Dulos died. Fotis Dulos denied that allegation.

Police allege Fotis Dulos lay in wait at Jennifer Dulos’ home in New Canaan for her to return after dropping the children off. Authorities say Fotis Dulos attacked the woman in her garage, leaving behind a bloody crime scene, and drove off with her body.

Dulos had pleaded not guilty to the charges. Pattis said the defense team will continue to seek a trial to clear his name.

“We intend to proceed on as if he were alive to vindicate him,” Pattis said. 

Fotis Dulos’ former girlfriend, Michelle Troconis, and his friend, attorney Kent Mawhinney, are both charged with conspiracy to commit murder. Police said they helped Fotis Dulos try to cover up the killing, including by creating bogus alibis.

___

Associated Press writers Michael Melia in Hartford and Pat Eaton-Robb in Storrs contributed to this report. 

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