Mother of five's disappearance is 'too close to home' for shocked Connecticut community

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Police continue to search for missing Connecticut mom Jennifer Dulos after her estranged husband and his girlfriend were arrested in connection with the case.

Posted: Jun 7, 2019 3:20 PM
Updated: Jun 7, 2019 3:20 PM

Jennifer Dulos went missing two weeks ago, but her wealthy Connecticut hometown is only slowly waking up to the reality of her disappearance.

Dulos, 50, was last seen driving a 2017 Chevrolet Suburban on May 24 in New Canaan, police said. Authorities found her car near a park, not far from her New Canaan house.

Police said it has received more than 225 tips in the case, including nearly 70 responses to a request for video surveillance from homes and businesses.

In developments last weekend, Dulos' estranged husband, Fotis Dulos, and his girlfriend, Michelle Troconis, were arrested in connection with her disappearance. Arrest warrants said officers found "(m)ultiple areas of suspected blood spatter" in Jennifer Dulos' home.

On Thursday afternoon, Troconis met with the Connecticut State Police and the state's attorney for the Stamford/Norwalk Judicial District at her attorney's office, according to CNN affiliate WCBS. It's not clear what happened in the meeting.

As these events unfold, the town that Jennifer Dulos calls home can't make sense of it all, said the Rev. Peter Walsh of St. Mark's Episcopal Church, where a vigil was held last week for the missing woman.

"The fallout ripples far beyond those who were friends with the family," Walsh said, "all the way into the community as the community feels the shock of this event."

A devoted mother

Family and friends describe Dulos as a devoted mother active in the lives of her five children, who range in age from 8 to 13. She has been a volunteer and advocate for her children, supervising play dates and sleepovers.

"Five kids in a situation like this is unimaginable," said Walsh, who did not know Dulos personally.

"When we had the vigil, I mentioned to call upon angels to have charge over the children because these kids need a presence in their life to contend with what's happening."

Dulos' friends reported her missing May 24 after she missed some appointments and they hadn't heard from her in 10 hours.

Those who knew her said they can't imagine her running off, but how could someone hurt her?

"I'm kind of numb to this," one neighbor told CNN. "It's shocking to find out this serious, violent crime can happen in your own neighborhood. It's a wake-up call."

He added, "It's too close to home."

People in the city of about 20,000 have packed churches, offered prayers, brought meals to police officers who are searching for Dulos and have asked what more can be done to help.

'A serious physical assault'

Fotis Dulos and Troconis have been charged with tampering with or fabricating physical evidence and hindering prosecution, New Canaan police said. Troconis was arraigned Monday and released on a $500,000 bond, but Dulos remains in custody. A court appearance has been set for Tuesday.

Investigators discovered stains that tested positive for human blood on the mother of five's garage floor, the arrest warrants said, and evidence of attempts to clean up the scene of what investigators concluded was "a serious physical assault ... and Jennifer Dulos was the suspected victim."

And the day she went missing, surveillance cameras captured someone matching the description of her estranged husband getting out of his truck and putting "multiple garage bags into various trash receptacles" in the Hartford area, authorities said. Detectives later recovered clothing and household goods from trash receptacles with Jennifer Dulos' blood on it.

Fotis Dulos is president and CEO of the Fore Group, a Farmington, Connecticut-based company that builds custom homes.

Police have obtained and served search warrants on his properties, according to a news release from New Canaan police spokesman Lt. Jason Ferraro.

"Details regarding these searches will not be released as it could compromise this very active criminal investigation," the statement said.

Ferraro said the state police continues to "diligently comb through mountains of trash" for evidence at the Materials Innovation and Recycling Authority in Hartford.

CNN reached out to Fotis Dulos' attorney Friday but did not immediately hear back.

Troconis' Thursday meeting with state police and State's Attorney Richard Colangelo lasted about three hours, and four police officers went to her attorney's office carrying audiovisual recording equipment, according to WCBS.

CNN has reached out to Troconis' attorney, state and local police and the state's attorney's office for comment.

A bitter custody fight

Jennifer Dulos lived in a mansion in Farmington with her husband and family until two years ago.

In court documents, she said Fotis Dulos moved his girlfriend and the woman's daughter into their Farmington house.

She moved out in 2017 to a home in New Canaan and filed for divorce, court records show.

The couple have been embroiled in a bitter custody battle since then.

Jennifer Dulos had told officials she was afraid of her husband before her disappearance, according to court documents obtained by CNN.

She said she feared that filing for divorce would enrage her husband, alleging in court documents that he had "revenge fantasies" and had threatened to kidnap their children and take them to Greece. She said he had a gun.

Fotis Dulos denied making any threats or bullying her, according to court filings.

Jennifer Dulos' mother, Gloria Farber, is now seeking the custody of her five grandchildren, according to court documents obtained by CNN affiliate WTNH. The children have been living with Farber in New York with their full-time caregiver, the documents said, since their mother's disappearance.

'The story only gets worse with time'

Walsh, rector at St. Mark's, said he doesn't know what members of the community are supposed to do as they wait to see what happens next. He was hoping for some answers for his next sermon.

He admits that "the story only gets worse with time."

"We'll go with whatever the reality brings us," Walsh said. "But I can say that when we go with that, we will go with prayer, and that we will go with a desire to help in any way possible."

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