Missing Mom Of 5 Declared Dead Ahead Of Trial For Woman Accused Of Murder Cover-Up

Jennifer Dulos’ body was never found. Now a woman accused of covering up her murder faces trial.

A missing Connecticut mother of five whose late estranged husband was charged with killing her in May 2019 has been declared legally dead. News of the decision broke days ahead of the trial of her ex’s girlfriend, who is facing charges she conspired with him and helped cover up the alleged crime.

Jennifer Dulos was last seen on the morning of May 24, 2019, in New Canaan, after driving her five children to school. Her body was never found, but based on evidence of her blood in her garage and elsewhere, the state medical examiner determined that she suffered injuries that would have been “non-survivable” without medical treatment and declared the case a “homicide of violence.”

Jennifer Dulos was last seen on May 24, 2019.
Jennifer Dulos was last seen on May 24, 2019.
New Canaan Police Department

Dulos, 50, was in the middle of a contentious divorce and bitter custody dispute when she disappeared. Authorities alleged that her estranged husband, Fotis Dulos, killed her, and that his then-girlfriend, Michelle Troconis, helped him create an alibi, clean up after the crime and dispose of the evidence.

Fotis Dulos was charged in January 2020 with felony murder and kidnapping in connection with his wife’s disappearance and presumed death, but killed himself at his home weeks later while free on bail. His then-girlfriend, Michelle Troconis, was charged with conspiracy to commit murder, tampering with physical evidence and hindering prosecution. Her long-delayed trial begins Thursday.

Last October, a probate judge granted a request by Gloria Farber, Dulos’ 88-year-old mother and the guardian of her children, to declare Jennifer Dulos dead to protect the family’s assets, according to court records obtained by News 12 Connecticut. Although Connecticut state statutes specify a person can be presumed dead seven years after going missing, the judge noted that was not a requirement and that the “inescapable conclusion” is that Dulos is dead.

When Dulos disappeared, Troconis, now 49, was living in the Farmington home Jennifer and Fotis Dulos once shared before Jennifer moved with their children to New Canaan and filed for divorce. Jennifer Dulos also requested an emergency custody order, saying, “I fear for my family’s safety, and I believe him to be highly capable and vengeful enough to take the children and disappear.”

Fotis was granted visits with his children, but later defied court orders by allowing Troconis and her daughter to be present during their get-togethers. One judge said that Fotis “had pursued his own self-interest and exposed the children to his paramour Michelle Troconis and her daughter … in complete disregard of the court’s prior orders and the effect his actions were having on the children.”

Troconis has pleaded not guilty to all charges. Her attorney, Jon Schoenhorn, previously told HuffPost she thought the Duloses’ divorce was “amicable” when she moved in with him.

Police say Troconis confirmed that she was a passenger in Fotis Dulos’ truck when he was seen in surveillance videos that investigators said showed him grabbing full plastic garbage bags from the bed of his truck and tossing them into several trash receptacles in Hartford the evening Jennifer Dulos vanished.

But Troconis denied knowing what Fotis Dulos was doing, saying she “wasn’t really paying attention” because she was “on the phone,” investigators said in arrest warrants.

In garbage bags that looked like those in the videos, police said they found a number of items soaked in Jennifer Dulos’ blood, including a shirt and bra, paper towels, cleaning supplies, two clear rain ponchos and four zip ties. Police said DNA found on the bags, tape and a glove matched Fotis’, and that Troconis’ DNA was found on one bag. Hours earlier, according to police search warrants, the pair had spent hours shuttling back and forth between their home and another property they claimed to be cleaning.

Kent Mawhinney, Fotis Dulos’ longtime friend and former attorney, is also facing charges in connection to Jennifer Dulos’ disappearance. He too has pleaded not guilty and may be called to testify for the prosecution in Troconis’ trial.

Jennifer Dulos’ friend, Carrie Luft, shared a statement on behalf of her family and friends Wednesday, thanking state and local authorities for their “tireless dedication” and asking that her friend remain the central focus in stories about the case.

“As this trial begins, it is crucial to remember who is at the center: Jennifer, whose five children have lost their mother and, as an eventuality, both parents,” the statement reads. “Jennifer’s family and loved ones have lost a loving daughter, sister, cousin, and lifelong friend. We do not seek closure, as nothing can bring Jennifer back. Our hope is that this trial provides for accountability and answers.”

The trial is expected to last six to eight weeks.

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