Jennifer Dulos: Police conduct new search near park in case of missing Connecticut mother

NEW CANAAN, Conn. — Connecticut authorities on Monday were searching an area of New Canaan in connection with the 2019 disappearance and presumed murder of a mother of five.

Investigators with the Connecticut State Police spent hours searching a mulch dump near Waveny Park, where Jennifer Farber Dulos’ SUV was found after her May 2019 disappearance. The Stamford Advocate reported that police officials declined to say what they were searching for or if they had received a tip on the Dulos’ whereabouts.

“The Connecticut State Police Major Crimes detectives and K-9s are in Waveny Park on a standard follow-up investigative effort out of an abundance of caution,” Brian Foley, an aide to state police Commissioner James Rovella, said in a statement obtained by the Hartford Courant.

A state police spokesperson confirmed that they were “following up on previous investigative information pertaining to” Dulos’ disappearance, the Courant reported.

“This is being done out of an abundance of caution to explore every avenue related to the case,” police officials said. “These follow-ups are standard procedure as our detectives thoroughly investigate any and all leads.”

It was unclear if the search produced any evidence in the case.

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Dulos, 50, has never been found, though authorities believe she was brutally killed May 24, 2019, as she returned home from dropping her children off at school. According to the Courant, that belief is based, in part, on the amount of blood found at her home, which the state chief medical examiner said indicated an injury that would be “non-survivable without medical intervention.”

Authorities said they found no evidence that Dulos sought medical treatment after her disappearance.

Her estranged husband, Fotis Dulos, 52, was arrested in January 2020 and charged with murder and kidnapping in connection with her presumed death. He died of suicide by carbon monoxide poisoning later that month after authorities found him slumped inside his car in the garage of his Farmington home.

The real estate developer was due in court Jan. 28 for a bond hearing, and police grew concerned when he failed to show up. He died two days later after being declared brain dead.

The couple had three sons and two daughters together, including two sets of twins. The children, who ranged in age from 8 to 13 at the time their mother vanished, are being raised by Jennifer Dulos’ family.

>> Related story: Estranged husband of missing mom Jennifer Dulos dead by suicide

Fotis Dulos’ ex-girlfriend, Michelle Troconis, and his former attorney, Kent Mawhinney, both still face charges in the case. According to the Advocate, Mawhinney also faces charges of sexual assault and violation of a protective order in connection with incidents involving his estranged wife in 2019.

Mawhinney has pleaded not guilty to conspiracy to commit murder in the Dulos case. He is accused of conspiring with Fotis Dulos, a longtime friend, to establish an alibi the morning Jennifer Dulos is believed to have been murdered.

Troconis also faces a charge of conspiracy to commit murder.

Fotis and Jennifer Dulos were in the middle of an acrimonious divorce and heated custody battle when Jennifer Dulos vanished. Authorities believe that Fotis Dulos used a borrowed truck to drive to New Canaan.

There, they allege, he parked in a secluded area and used a vintage French bicycle he owned to ride the remaining distance to his estranged wife’s home, where he killed her.

Residential surveillance camera footage from a street about a mile or so from Jennifer Dulos’ home in New Canaan also shows “an individual dressed in a hooded sweatshirt and dark clothing riding a bicycle consistent with Dulos’ bike toward Jennifer’s residence” on the morning she vanished, an affidavit in the case states. Photographs of Fotis Dulos’ bike matched the description of the one seen near his estranged wife’s home.

>> Related story: Bloody zip ties and a French bicycle: Court records detail evidence against Jennifer Dulos’ husband

Jennifer Dulos was reported missing by friends after she failed to turn up for several doctors’ appointments scheduled for that day in New York City.

Her 2017 Chevy Suburban was later found abandoned on the perimeter of Wavenly Park.

New Canaan police officers went to her home — located on a cul-de-sac in the affluent town about 15 miles outside of Greenwich — around 7 p.m. that night but found no one there. A state police detective wrote in arrest warrants that the family’s nanny let officers into the house.

What investigators did find was Jennifer Dulos’ blood in her garage — on the floor, a wall and the exterior of a 2014 Range Rover parked inside. The blood led them to believe she had been killed as she returned from her children’s school drop-off.

A stain found on the kitchen faucet was a mixture of blood belonging to both Fotis and Jennifer Dulos, according to arrest warrants in the case. In addition, Fotis Dulos’ DNA profile was found on the knob of the mudroom door.

Investigators found signs that someone had tried to clean up the scene in the victim’s garage, and the family’s nanny told detectives she found 10 rolls of paper towels missing from the house the day of the alleged murder.

Jennifer Dulos’ blood was also found in May 2019 on items discarded in trash bins more than 70 miles away, in Hartford, the night of May 24. The items included clothing and a kitchen sponge, gloves and plastic zip ties stained with blood.

>> Related story: Bloody clothes, camera footage leave trail of evidence in Dulos case

The arrest warrants allege that New Canaan detectives met briefly with Fotis Dulos May 25, 2019, and seized his cellphone, which showed his movements the day his wife disappeared. Those movements included traveling to Hartford, where the bloodstained clothing and cleaning supplies were found.

The data specifically showed the phone traveling along Albany Avenue, where the discarded items were recovered by police. In a storm drain along the route, investigators also found a FedEx box containing license plates that police traced back to a 2007 Suburban belonging to Fotis Dulos.

The plates had been altered to change the tag number, court documents state.

The Hartford Police Department was able to help New Canaan detectives tie Fotis Dulos and his girlfriend to the evidence, court documents say.

“Investigators obtained surveillance footage from the Hartford Police Department Capital City Command Center (C4), which operates surveillance cameras at various Hartford locations, including the Albany Avenue area,” one of the warrants states. “C4 documented a black Ford Raptor pickup truck stopping at over 30 locations along a more than 4 mile stretch of Albany Avenue between Biltmore and Edward streets.”

Still images from the surveillance footage showed the Raptor truck matched one belonging to Fotis Dulos, including a sticker on the rear window and a light-colored mark on the black truck’s front bumper. The front license plate of the vehicle also matched that of his truck.

A man matching the description of Fotis Dulos was seen getting out of the truck and tossing out the evidence later found by officers, the warrants say. In some of the footage, apparent bloodstains could be seen on the items being tossed out.

A woman matching Troconis’ description could be seen leaning out of the passenger seat of the truck in one video clip, the documents say.

>> Related story: Defense in Jennifer Dulos case alleges ‘Gone Girl’-type setup

Authorities allege that Fotis Dulos met with Mawhinney the night before Jennifer Dulos vanished, as well as the day of. Court documents also mention what appeared to be a shallow grave found on the grounds of a hunting club in East Granby that Mawhinney founded more than a decade ago.

Two members of the Windsor Rod & Gun Club were walking through the woods on club property May 18 – six days before Jennifer Dulos vanished – when they found “an area of disturbed ground” covered by two barbecue grill grates. Small branches and leaves had been used to conceal the grates and hide the hole underneath them, Mawhinney’s arrest warrant says.

One man described the hole to police as “100% a human grave.”

Read the arrest warrant for Fotis Dulos below.

The hole was about 6 feet long, 2 feet wide and 3 feet deep, the men told investigators. In the hole sat a blue tarp and two unopened bags of lime.

The men told police they speculated on the reason for the lime, which one of them pointed out could be used to help get rid of a body.

“Well, that means someone has to be missing,” one of the men stated.

Read the arrest warrant for Michelle Troconis below.

A few days later, but two days before Jennifer Dulos went missing, the second man was on the property and checked on the hole, which he found to be half-filled with water. The lime was missing at that point, he told police.

“Again, (he) considered this curious, but as no one was yet missing, he shrugged it off,” the arrest warrant says.

In early June, the man was again on the property and found the hole had been filled and covered “neat as a pin,” to the point the hole was no longer apparent. A few weeks later, while talking about the hole with a police officer friend, the friend told him he needed to call authorities.

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The witness told police that, although Mawhinney had left the hunting club five or six years prior, he had reached out in March or April 2019 to another club member, saying he was interested in again getting involved.

“(Mawhinney) had said he wanted to get back into the club and had inquired how to get back onto the property. The member told Mawhinney about the hidden key to the logging chain (blocking access),” the arrest warrant states.

Mawhinney never followed up on renewing his membership in the club, the court documents say.

Read the arrest warrant for Kent Mawhinney below.

Investigators from New Canaan and state troopers took K-9 units to the hunting club, where they found the filled-in hole the men had told them about, the warrant says. The hole was dug up, but the dogs found no signs of human remains in or around it.

Mawhinney’s cellphone data, which led police to believe he met with Fotis Dulos on May 23 and 24, 2019, also showed him in the vicinity of the hunting club March 29, around the time he asked about how to access the property, and again May 31, a week after Jennifer Dulos vanished, his warrant says.

Mawhinney is due in court Wednesday in his domestic violence case, the Advocate reported. Attorneys for Troconis have requested access to the records in that case to determine if prosecutors are working out a deal with Mawhinney in exchange for his testimony against Troconis in the Dulos murder case.

Prosecutors previously said they planned to call Mawhinney as a witness at Troconis’ eventual trial, according to the newspaper.

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