Estranged husband of missing Conn. mother held on bail

  • Michelle Troconis, 44, the girlfriend of Fotis Dulos, 51, is led into Norwalk Superior Court on Monday morning, June 3, 2019 by New Canaan police, judicial marshals and the state police. Troconis and Dulos were both arrested late Saturday night by state police detectives at a hotel in Avon and have been held on $500,000 bond pending arraignment in Norwalk Superior Court. (Patrick Raycraft/Hartford Courant/TNS) Patrick Raycraft

  • Fotis Dulos, the estranged husband of missing New Canaan mother of five Jennifer Farber Dulos, is led into Norwalk Superior Court on Monday morning, June 3, 2019. Dulos has been charged in connection with the investigation into her disappearance. New Canaan police said Sunday they charged Fotis Dulos with hindering prosecution and tampering with evidence, along with his girlfriend, Michelle Troconis. (Patrick Raycraft/Hartford Courant/TNS) Hartford Courant — Patrick Raycraft

  • Michelle C. Troconis, 44, is arraigned on charges of tampering with or fabricating physical evidence and first-degree hindering prosecution at Norwalk Superior Court in Norwalk, Conn. Monday, June 3, 2019. Fotis Dulos, 51, and his girlfriend, Michelle C. Troconis, 44, were arrested at an Avon hotel late Saturday night and held on a $500,000 bond for charges of tampering with or fabricating physical evidence and first-degree hindering prosecution. Fotis Dulos is the estranged husband of Jennifer Dulos, the 50-year-old mother of five who has been missing since May 24. (Tyler Sizemore/Hearst Connecticut Media/pool photo) Tyler Sizemore

Published: 6/3/2019 8:51:12 PM
Modified: 6/3/2019 8:51:08 PM

NORWALK, Conn. — Clothing and sponges stained with the blood of missing New Canaan mother Jennifer Farber Dulos were found in trash cans in Hartford, and cellphone records showed her estranged husband’s phone was in the same area the night she disappeared, arrest warrants released Monday say.

Police also found blood stains and spattered blood in the New Canaan home of Farber Dulos on the day she disappeared, warrants say.

Fotis Dulos, her estranged husband, and his girlfriend, Michelle Troconis, were ordered held on bail of $500,000 each Monday after a prosecutor said more charges are expected in the case. Warrants for Dulos and Troconis say New Canaan police went to Farber Dulos’s home Friday night and found several stains on the garage floor, inside the home and on a vehicle parked in the garage. The stains tested positive for human blood, police said.

Dulos and Troconis face charges of hindering prosecution and tampering with evidence. Police arrested Dulos, 51, and Troconis, 44, Saturday at an Avon hotel.

The case against Fotis Dulos was continued to June 11. His attorney, Eugene Riccio, said he did not believe Dulos would be able to post bond Monday. Prosecutor Suzanne Vieux asked the judge to keep the bail at $500,000 because more charges are anticipated.

Citing the serious nature of the case, Superior Court Judge Stephanie McLaughlin refused to lower Troconis’ bond. Her attorney, Andrew Bowman, said her bail will be posted, but she will have to wear a GPS monitor.

“She has no prior record,” Bowman said, arguing that his client’s bail should be reduced to $150,000. “She has a young child here in Connecticut. She represents no danger to the community.”

Troconis, who was shackled at the wrists and ankles and had her shoelaces removed, did not speak during her appearance. Her parents, who were sitting on a bench outside the courtroom waiting to post her bail, refused to comment.

New Canaan police are investigating Jennifer Farber Dulos’ disappearance as both a missing persons case and a criminal investigation and said in a release Sunday that “as the criminal investigation continues, additional criminal charges are expected.”

Jennifer Farber Dulos disappeared on May 24 after dropping her children off at the New Canaan Country Day School. She and Fotis Dulos have been embroiled in a bitter two-year custody battle, a case full of back-and-forth accusations of ignoring court orders, threatening each other in front of the children and allegations of threats to hurt the children or each other.

In one example, Farber Dulos told a judge she feared her husband would either kidnap their five children and flee to Greece with his Argentinian paramour — or kill her.

Word of her husband’s arrest came as the focus of the nine-day investigation shifted to Hartford. Sources have told the Courant that police obtained surveillance video of Fotis Dulos in the same North End Hartford neighborhood where police conducted an extensive search for evidence Friday, sifting through trash cans and scouring dumpsters for several hours. Sources said nothing was found in the search.

Early Sunday, the investigation turned to a property on Mountain Spring Road developed by Fotis Dulos’s Fore Group Inc. real estate company. Investigators, who sources said had obtained search warrants, showed up in force at the property, which is listed for sale at $2.99 million.

At about 8:45 a.m., more than a dozen state police vehicles, including three canine units, converged in front of 80 Mountain Spring Road. A state police canine unit searched a wooded area in front of the house, then moved toward the house and driveway before going around the back of the house, where the state police forensics vehicle was parked.

Two police cruisers also remained through the course of the morning at Dulos’ Jefferson Crossing home, just five minutes up the road from 80 Mountain Spring Road. It is unclear if anything was seized during Sunday’s searches.

By the time investigators swarmed the property, Fotis Dulos was already in custody. Friday, Dulos and Troconis had been taken to Troop L in Litchfield after police showed up at his Jefferson Crossing home in Farmington, where the family lived until Jennifer Farber Dulos moved to New Canaan with her children and filed for divorce in June 2017, sources said.

Detectives had a search warrant seeking DNA and hair samples. Fotis Dulos left the house with Troconis and drove in his own black SUV with a convoy of state police detectives to Litchfield to give DNA and hair samples. Once they were taken, Dulos was allowed to leave and wasn’t detained or questioned at the barracks, sources said.

He was arrested at about 11 p.m. Saturday in Avon, New Canaan police said.

Fotis Dulos’s Bridgeport attorney, Eugene Riccio, declined to comment on the arrest Sunday.

Carrie Luft, spokeswoman for the Farber family, also declined to comment Sunday and asked that others respect the privacy of Jennifer Dulos’s family and friends.

Detectives have tightened the timeline for when they believe Jennifer Farber Dulos disappeared to roughly four hours on May 24, sources said. She dropped the children off around 8 a.m. at the school, and a cleaning lady entered the Welles Avenue home around noon that day and found no one home.

Farber Dulos missed 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. appointments that day, sources said. She was reported missing by two friends at 7 p.m. Sources said neither her cellphone nor her credit cards have been used since she disappeared.

On May 25, state police detectives entered the Welles Avenue house and found traces of blood, law enforcement sources said. It appeared the scene had been cleaned well enough to avoid discovery by the housekeeper, the sources said. It was not clear if investigators have matched the blood to Farber Dulos through DNA testing.

Until Friday, the search for Farber Dulos had centered in New Canaan in the area around her house and in nearby Waveny Park, where her black Chevrolet Suburban SUV was found after she was reported missing. State police have impounded that car.

As the search intensified over the last week, divorce proceedings continued. Michael Rose, the divorce attorney who is representing Fotis Dulos, filed a motion seeking a custody hearing because he said the children are under armed guard in the New York City apartment owned by Jennifer’s mother, and their father has no access to them.

Sources said that Fotis Dulos went to New York City May 26, two days after his wife was reported missing, and tried to see his children, but was rebuffed by security. Late Friday, Rose filed a motion seeking to cancel the deposition of Jennifer Farber Dulos as well as depositions scheduled for a doctor who has been meeting with the children, and the couple’s babysitter. A hearing has been scheduled for June 5 in Stamford Superior Court.

The divorce proceedings have been taking place against the backdrop of another legal battle between Fotis Dulos and the estate of his estranged wife’s father, Hilliard Farber, who contends that Fotis Dulos owes his in-laws more than $2.5 million, according to court records. Hilliard Farber was a former senior vice president at Chase Manhattan Bank who went on to serve as a fellow at the Brookings Institute and form his own brokerage firm, Hilliard Farber & Co.

Farber would front his son-in-law money to buy properties and then Dulos would build high-end homes through his company, Fore Group Inc. He then would sell the houses and repay the debt, according to court records. The lawsuit alleges that Dulos stopped making those payments.

“Mr. Farber was extremely generous to his son-in-law over the years,” said West Hartford attorney Richard Weinstein, who represents Farber’s estate.

The five Dulos children were set to spend Memorial Day weekend with their father, according to a relaxed visitation schedule a judge issued in March.

In a March 20 ruling, Judge Donna Heller changed what had been extremely limited access to the children for Fotis Dulos, allowing him every-other-weekend visits to the home in Farmington where they grew up. The judge changed the schedule even though she previously had called Fotis Dulos “a liar who willingly ignored court orders” by allowing his girlfriend access to his five children, despite a court order explicitly ordering him not to do that.

After several contentious months of hearings, and with reports from therapists and a guardian ad litem, Heller ruled Fotis Dulos could have supervised visitation rights with his children that included having the kids every other weekend, starting at the end of March. He was allowed to spend seven hours with the children in Fairfield County on Saturdays and six hours with them in Hartford County on Sundays, including at his Farmington home.

“The court finds it is in the children’s best interests that they have regular supervised parenting time with the defendant every other weekend,” Heller said.

The judge even accommodated the Easter holiday weekend switching weekends so that the children would spend it with their father and his family. Dulos is a Greek citizen. The judge did place numerous restrictions on the visits from no discussion of the pending court case to no one-on-one conversations with any of the children unless a court-authorized supervisor was present. He also was barred from talking to his children in Greek to try and circumvent the supervisor’s presence.

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