true crime

Jennifer's husband is charged with her murder. He claims she faked her death, Gone Girl style.

The last time anyone saw Jennifer Dulos was when she was dropping her five kids off at their exclusive Connecticut private school on May 24 last year. The question is, was she murdered or did she fake her disappearance along the lines of the hit novel Gone Girl?

Last week, after eight months of investigation, police finally decided they had enough evidence to charge Jennifer’s ex-husband, Fotis Dulos, with her murder, despite her body never having been found.

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The case has gripped Americans. Jennifer was born into the wealthy Farber family of New York. She met Fotis, who grew up in Greece, in the late 1980s when they were both studying at the prestigious Brown University.

The couple eventually married in 2004, and Jennifer’s parents Hilliard and Gloria put some of their money towards setting up Fotis as a real estate developer.

Jennifer and Fotis had five children, but their marriage was troubled.

In 2017, Jennifer and the children moved out of the family home into a house in New Canaan. The couple’s divorce documents suggest some serious issues.

According to the Stamford Advocate, Jennifer said Fotis, who waterskied at a professional level himself, had an “obsession” with waterskiing and his coaching of their children was “dangerous and excessive”.

“The children have told me that they do not want to waterski at this level,” Jennifer claimed in one document. “They are physically and emotionally exhausted and have begged me to do something about it. We are all terrified to disobey my husband.”

However, Nancy Mastrocosta, who got know the family when they competed at the Greek Waterski Nationals for four years, defended Fotis as being a “caring father”.

“No one ever witnessed Fotis abusing his children in any way or form, or even forcing the children to ski,” she said.

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During the divorce case, Jennifer claimed she was worried that Fotis might harm her.

She alleged that one time, when he came to pick up the kids in his SUV, he accelerated towards her before swerving at the last minute, yelling, “You should be locked away,” and, “Why don’t you pop another pill?”

He alleged she abused prescription medication.

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At the time of Jennifer’s disappearance, she and Fotis were still battling over custody of their children. Fotis was $US10 million in debt, according to police warrants.

On May 24 last year, the first person to notice Jennifer missing was the family’s nanny, Lauren Almeida. According to police warrants, she arrived at the house that afternoon and saw Jennifer’s handbag but not Jennifer.

She also noticed 10 rolls of paper towels had disappeared from the pantry. Becoming alarmed when she couldn’t contact Jennifer, she contacted police.

That night, the police found blood on Jennifer’s Range Rover and in her garage. According to police warrants, testing showed it was hers – and then, as investigations continued, more of her blood was found, mixed with Fotis’s DNA, on a tap in the house.

The warrants go on to detail more evidence. Bags of rubbish containing items stained with Jennifer’s blood, including her clothing, paper towels and several zip ties, were found in a string of bins more than 100km away. Surveillance footage shows people alleged to resemble Fotis and his then-girlfriend, Michelle Troconis, dumping rubbish bags in the bins.

On the day Jennifer went missing, police believe Fotis borrowed a pickup truck belonging to one of his employees, Pawel Gumienny. The employee says Fotis had the truck cleaned but kept insisting the seats be replaced. According to the employee’s lawyer, Lindy Urso, he got suspicious and held onto the old seats, later giving them to police, who found Jennifer’s blood on one of them.

In June last year, Fotis and Michelle Troconis were charged with evidence tampering and hindering prosecution. They pleaded not guilty.

Later that month, Fotis’s lawyer Norm Pattis said he was “investigating the possibility that this is a Gone Girl-type case and considering the possibility that no third party was involved in foul play”.

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In the novel Gone Girl, a woman disappears, but it turns out she’s faked her death and framed her husband for murder.

The novel’s author, Gillian Flynn, hit back, saying in a statement to Connecticut TV station WTNH that she was “deeply sorry” for Jennifer and her loved ones.

“It absolutely sickens me that a work of fiction written by me would be used by Fotis Dulos’s lawyer as a defence, and as a hypothetical, sensationalised motive behind Jennifer’s very real and very tragic disappearance,” she said.

In an interview with NBC last September, Fotis Dulos said he believed Jennifer was still alive.

“I wish she were here to sort this mess out,” he said. “And I’m still hoping that she’s going to show up.”

Meanwhile, the couple’s children, aged from eight to 13, were being cared for by Jennifer’s 84-year-old mother Gloria in New York.

“Every day she summons courage, dignity and grace while living through this devastating situation,” Gloria’s friend Carrie Luft told The Middletown Press in September. “Her mission is to care and provide for her grandchildren, which she does with love and understanding and a vibrancy of spirit that people half her age would envy.”

A group of people who had never met Jennifer became determined that she shouldn’t be forgotten. They started painting rocks pink, writing “Justice for Jennifer” on them, and placing them around New Canaan.

“I just want her family to know that we’re all praying, all over the world, we’re praying that Jennifer comes home,” Debbie Casavecchia told News12.

Last Tuesday, Fotis was charged with kidnapping and murder, while Michelle Troconis and a lawyer friend of Fotis’s, Kent Mawhinney, were charged with conspiracy to commit murder. All three were released on bail.

Fotis’s lawyer, Norm Pattis, is confident of victory.

“We defy the state to prove that she is in fact dead,” he said.

Feature Image: New Cannaan Police Department/TODAY/YouTube.

If this post brings up any issues for you, or if you just feel like you need to speak to someone, please call 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732) – the national sexual assault, domestic and family violence counselling service. It doesn’t matter where you live, they will take your call and, if need be, refer you to a service closer to home.

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