6 things to know about Jennifer Dulos disappearance after movie premiere

Photo of Nicholas Rondinone

NEW CANAAN — Two years after the disappearance of Jennifer Dulos, unanswered questions remain while investigators continue to seek justice for her family and friends.

While the 50-year-old mother of five has never been found, investigators said she is presumed dead based on evidence of a serious assault that occurred in the garage of her New Canaan home in May 2019.

At the time of the disappearance, Jennifer and Fotis Dulos were embroiled in a heated two-year divorce and custody dispute.

Fotis Dulos died by suicide in January 2020 while facing murder, kidnapping and other charges in the case.

His former girlfriend, Michelle Troconis, has pleaded not guilty to conspiracy to commit murder, tampering with evidence and hindering prosecution in connection with Jennifer Dulos’ disappearance.

Fotis Dulos’ longtime friend and former attorney, Kent Mawhinney, has pleaded not guilty to conspiracy to commit murder in the case.

Troconis and Mawhinney are free on bond as they await trial.

The case that has drawn international attention was the subject of a TV movie, “Gone Mom: The Disappearance of Jennifer Dulos,” which premiered Saturday night on Lifetime. The movie was followed by the one-hour documentary, “Beyond the Headlines: The Jennifer Dulos Story.”

Here are six things to know about the case:

When did Jennifer Dulos go missing?

Jennifer Dulos was reported missing around 7 p.m. on May 24, 2019, after friends became concerned that she had missed appointments that day in New York City, police said.

She was last seen dropping off her five children at New Canaan Country School on Frogtown Road, around the corner from her home, around 8 a.m. that day, according to police.

What did police find at Jennifer Dulos’ home?

After taking the missing persons report, police went to Jennifer Dulos’ home on Welles Lane in New Canaan and found evidence of a serious assault and traces of blood in the garage, according to court records.

Police said they then found her black Chevrolet Suburban abandoned on Lapham Road near Waverny Park in New Canaan.

Where police searched for Jennifer Dulos

Searches were quickly conducted for days throughout Waveny Park, near where Jennifer Dulos’ SUV was found.

The search then expanded to New York to a Westchester County property owned by Jennifer Dulos’ family. From there, the search turned to central Connecticut, including a portion of Hartford’s North End, where evidence was discovered that included Jennifer Dulos’ blood and DNA, according to arrest warrants in the case.

Investigators later searched for weeks at a garbage processing plant in Hartford where the city’s trash is brought. They also searched a water skiing pond in Avon that the Dulos family frequently visited.

Searches continued through central Connecticut with investigators visiting homes associated with her estranged husband’s building company, Fore Group, and a 3,000-acre park and reservoir in West Hartford.

State police have continued to search for Jennifer Dulos, most recently visiting a Farmington home associated with her estranged husband’s company in January.

Who has been arrested in Jennifer Dulos’ disappearance?

Eight days after Jennifer Dulos was reported missing, police took Fotis Dulos and Troconis into custody on charges of tampering with evidence and hindering prosecution.

Arrest warrant affidavits for the pair show that state police investigators spotted the two on surveillance video stopping at trash cans across Hartford’s North End around the same time Jennifer Dulos was reported missing.

State police investigators found some of the bags they believe were discarded by Fotis Dulos with items ranging from kitchen sponges to clothing containing Jennifer Dulos’ blood and DNA, the affidavits read.

Investigators initially reviewed surveillance footage in the area after it was discovered that cellphones belonging to Fotis Dulos and Troconis were there at the time, the affidavit said.

Fotis Dulos and Troconis were again charged with tampering with evidence in September 2019. In warrants filed in this arrest, investigators said they believed Fotis Dulos was "lying in wait" for Jennifer Dulos at her New Canaan home the morning she went missing.

Investigators also detailed how a blood-like substance with Jennifer Dulos’ DNA was found in a vehicle owned by one of Fotis Dulos’ employees, according to the affidavits. Police said they believed Fotis Dulos used the truck the day his wife went missing. The arrest warrants included photos taken from traffic cameras showing the pickup traveling to and from New Canaan that day.

On Jan. 7, 2020, state police took Fotis Dulos, Troconis and Mawhinney into custody. Fotis Dulos was charged with murder, felony murder and kidnapping, while Troconis and Mawhinney were each charged with conspiracy to commit murder.

Mawhinney, who was taken into custody at gunpoint, was accused at the time of helping Fotis Dulos and Troconis establish an alibi the morning of the disappearance, arrest records show.

In his arrest warrant, police said Mawhinney was also associated with an East Granby gun club where hunters found what they described to be a “human grave” in the days leading up to Jennifer Dulos’ disappearance. However, state police said they later searched and dug up the area and found no evidence Jennifer Dulos was ever there.

In arrest warrant affidavits for Fotis Dulos and Troconis, investigators wrote that they provided the state’s chief medical examiner, Dr. James Gill, with evidence from Jennifer Dulos’ home. Gill determined she suffered an injury that she could not survive without immediate medical attention. Investigators wrote in the warrant that they found no evidence she had received any medical care after she went missing.

What happened before the disappearance?

In the years before the disappearance, Jennifer and Fotis Dulos were locked in a contentious divorce and custody battle over their five children. The couple had been married for 13 years.

In a filing in the divorce case, Jennifer Dulos said she knew it would enrage her husband. She went on to claim her husband would “retaliate by trying to harm me in some way.”

In an affidavit filed in the divorce case, Jennifer Dulos said her husband exhibited “irrational, unsafe, bullying, threatening and controlling behavior.”

“I am afraid for my safety and the physical safety and emotional well-being of our minor children,” Jennifer Dulos said, according to court documents.

Following the disappearance, a probate judge granted custody of the five children to Jennifer Dulos’ mother, Gloria Farber. A family court judge who had been handling the divorce later granted Farber custody of the children.

Recent developments in the case

The cases against Troconis and Mawhinney continue to move through the courts, but neither seem close to any resolution. In a hearing last month, Judge John F. Blawie acknowledged that he could not provide Troconis’ attorney with a date for a jury trial considering court officials were still working on plans to resume trials following the COVID-19 pandemic.

Prosecutors have said Mawhinney could testify against Troconis if her case goes to trial. However, little has been discussed about a resolution for Mawhinney’s case. In a recent hearing, Blawie denied a request for his ankle-worn GPS monitor to be removed so Mawhinney could referee adult hockey games.

Marking the two-year anniversary of her disappearance last week, family and friends said in a statement they await justice.

“We are moved by the continued interest in Jennifer’s case and by the concern for her children and family, all of whom are thankfully healthy and well,” said Carrie Luft, a longtime friend of Jennifer Dulos who has served as the spokesperson for the family and friends. “Although this past year has understandably slowed the process, the investigation into Jennifer’s death and disappearance is ongoing.”