Fotis Dulos left his Farmington house at daybreak on May 24—the Friday of Memorial Day weekend—and drove toward New Canaan, according to evidence presented in a state police detective’s sworn affidavit made public Wednesday.
The 51-year-old had taken precautions, leaving his cellphone back at the home office of his building company and driving a red Toyota Tacoma pickup truck that belonged to one of his workers, according to an arrest warrant application from Detective John Kimball of the state police Western District Major Crime Squad.
Fotis Dulos parked the Tacoma on a dirt turnoff along Lapham Road and made his way to the Welles Lane home that his estranged wife, Jennifer Dulos, had been renting, according to Kimball’s affidavit. She’d filed for divorce nearly two years prior—saying at the time that she was afraid her husband—though a custody battle for their five children and subsequent court order violations had protracted the divorce proceedings, and it hadn’t been finalized.
The last known photo of Jennifer Dulos alive is captured at 8:05 a.m. by a Welles Lane neighbor’s video surveillance system—she’s driving her SUV home after dropping the kids off at school while Fotis Dulos “is believed to have been lying in wait at 69 Welles Lane for his wife to return home,” Kimball wrote in a 43-page arrest warrant application.
During the next two hours and 20 minutes, Jennifer Dulos appears to have been killed in a violent assault that’s followed by an effort to clean up the scene, the application said. At 10:25 a.m., the residential surveillance video “shows Jennifer Dulos’s Suburban traveling westbound away from 69 Welles Lane,” according to Kimball’s affidavit.
“[Fotis] Dulos is believed to be operating the victim’s vehicle which is carrying the body of Jennifer Dulos and a number of other items associated with the clean-up which occurred in the garage of the residence,” the affidavit said. “Cellular data obtained from Jennifer’s cellphone is consistent with the phone moving from Welles Lane to Lapham Road during this timeframe.”
Jennifer Dulos had multiple doctors’ appointments scheduled in New York City that day, and at 6:59 p.m., police received a report that she was missing. They immediately located her SUV, parked in a turnoff along the edge of Waveny on Lapham Road. A subsequent forensic examination showed “possible blood evidence on the interior and exterior of the vehicle,” Kimball said in the affidavit.
Surveillance video captured by a passing school bus showed that the Tacoma was parked about 100 feet away.
Within a few weeks, detectives secured a warrant authorizing a forensic examination of the Tacoma’s seats and “an area of blood-like substance was identified on the passenger seat.” A state lab “produced a DNA report which forensically linked the fabric swatch taken from the Tacoma seat containing the blood-like substance to the DNA of the victim, Jennifer Dulos.”
Fotis Dulos drives back to Farmington for a quick lunch with his live-in girlfriend, Michelle Troconis, according to interviews cited in Kimball’s affidavit. The subject of his estranged wife doesn’t come up in conversation, Troconis later told investigators. She didn’t ask where he’d been since early morning, though later that afternoon when they’re both at one of the Farmington homes his company built, she sees Fotis Dulos “cleaning what he described as spilled coffee” out of the Tacoma, according to the affidavit.
“Troconis told investigators at one point [Fotis] Dulos had handed her a stained towel he had been using to clean the truck and told her to place it into a plastic garbage bag,” the affidavit said. “When questioned about the towel, Troconis claimed she could not remember the color of the stain, but she admitted the towel did not smell of coffee.”
Fotis Dulos would go much further in cleaning up the truck, insisting that its owner remove its back seats and get rid of them—even supplying replacement seats from a damaged Porsche Cayenne (that was registered to Jennifer Dulos)—then seeing to it, without his worker’s knowledge, that the car is detailed at a Russell Speeder’s in nearby Avon.
Later, during an Aug. 13 interview with investigators where Troconis would admit that she hadn’t been truthful in the past about what happened on the day Jennifer Dulos went missing, she was “asked by investigators why she thought [Fotis] Dulos would be washing the Tacoma.”
“Her reply was, ‘Well obviously…all the evidence says because … you showed me the picture of the blood in the door it’s because the body of Jennifer at some point was in there,’ ” she said, according to Kimball’s affidavit.
The criminal charge
The arrest warrant application, signed Sept. 3 by Superior Court Judge John Blawie, brings a second charge of tampering with evidence against Fotis Dulos. He bonded out on $500,000 and is scheduled to appear Sept. 12.
Though the evidence presented by Kimball fills out what had been a morning gap in the timeline (see below) tracking Fotis Dulos’s movements on the day his estranged wife went missing, felony tampering itself falls short of the murder charge that many are anticipating in the case.
Despite the detailed summary from Kimball, major questions linger. For example, it isn’t clear how Fotis Dulos got from Lapham Road to Jennifer Dulos’s house on Welles Lane, or whether investigators have video surveillance evidence tracking that journey. It also isn’t clear just how much Troconis knew about what appear to be Fotis Dulos’s efforts to destroy evidence of the crime. Perhaps most importantly, it isn’t clear just where Jennifer Dulos’s body is, assuming the worst. According to one prominent New Canaan-based legal expert, prosecutors may not need a physical body in order to bring a murder charge, as long as the circumstantial evidence in the case is strong enough.
The investigation, which includes New Canaan and state police as well as federal authorities, is active and ongoing.
It’s already yielded geo-location records secured through a cellphone that appear to show Fotis Dulos and Troconis steering a truck through Hartford for a dump-run on the afternoon of May 24, disposing items that include some with Jennifer Dulos’s DNA. That evidence formed the basis of hindering and tampering charges brought against each of them in June by New Canaan Police. According to the state’s attorney, investigators also found Fotis Dulos’s DNA inside the Welles Lane home. Fotis Dulos and Troconis each pleaded not guilty and have been out on $500,000 bond.
Using interviews as well as surveillance video to track the Tacoma, police established the following timeline for the morning of May 24, according to Kimball’s affidavit:
- 6:36 a.m.—The red Toyota Tacoma is seen by surveillance video traveling southbound on the Merritt Parkway passing the Fairfield Rest Area.
- 6:40 a.m.—Troconis wakes up in the home she shares with Fotis Dulos and he’s already gone.
- 7:03 a.m.—The Tacoma is seen by surveillance video traveling southbound on the Merritt Parkway passing the New Canaan Rest Area. The area is about 1.2 miles or five minutes’ travel time from where the vehicle was next sighted on Lapham Road in New Canaan.
- 7:05 a.m.—A school bus’s video shows an empty turnout on Lapham Road.
- 7:40 a.m.—The camera on a school bus traveling southbound on Lapham Road shows the same Lapham Road turnout with a Toyota shown through the folding bus door facing oncoming traffic.
- 7:57 a.m.—A school bus video from a bus traveling northbound on Lapham Road shows the Toyota still parked in the dirt turnout.
- 8:05 a.m.—Jennifer Dulos drives her 2017 Chevy Suburban eastbound on Welles Lane toward her house, having dropped her children at school.
- 10:25 a.m.—Residential surveillance on Welles Lane shows Jennifer Dulos’s Suburban traveling westbound away from 69 Welles Lane.
- 11:12 a.m.—The Tacoma is recorded on surveillance video traveling northbound on the Merritt past the New Canaan Rest Area.
- 11:25 a.m.—The Tacoma passes the Fairfield Rest Area.
- 11:40 a.m.—The Tacoma travels northbound on Route 8 past the Valley Transit District in Derby.
- 12 p.m.—The Tacoma is traveling eastbound along Interstate 84 in Waterbury.
- 12:22 p.m.—The Tacoma pulls into the driveway of a Farmington home owned by Fotis Dulos.
The project manager
Much of the new evidence in the case stems from police interviews with Pawel Gumienny, identified in Kimball’s application as a project manger for Fotis Dulos’s company, The Fore Group.
Detectives appear to have encountered him by chance on May 31, at Fotis Dulos’s Farmington home. Gumienny had just removed two seats from a Porsche Cayenne “at the express direction and insistence of [Fotis] Dulos,” with the intention of installing them in his own Toyota Tacoma pickup truck, according to the affidavit. He told authorities that he typically would leave his truck at the Farmington house and take a company car out for work, which “resulted in [Fotis] Dulos having access to the vehicle during Gumienny’s work week, and sometimes for longer periods.”
On May 24, Gumienny drove one of the company’s cars to a Fore Group construction site on Sturbridge Hill Road in New Canaan and was there all day, Kimball said in the affidavit (Gumienny is not a suspect).
The following week, Gumienny “was surprised to discover that without his knowledge or consent [Fotis] Dulos had taken his Toyota Tacoma to a car wash to have the interior detailed and to wash the exterior,” the affidavit said.
Fotis Dulos also “commented that the Toyota’s seats were not the original Toyota seats and that Gumienny should change the seats or sell the truck.”
“Gumienny also found this statement peculiar,” the application said. “Gumienny did not routinely clean his truck and that prior to this occasion, [Fotis] Dulos had never washed Gumienny’s truck.”
“Over the course of the following days, [Fotis] Dulos continued to urge Gumienny to remove the seats from the Toyota and replace them. Gumienny described [Fotis] Dulos as insistent and ‘pushy,’ sometimes to the point of [Fotis] Dulos growing angry that Gumienny had not yet changed out the seats,” the application said.
Gumienny told investigators that Fotis Dulos had told him “to switch out the seats and get rid of them so they would not be found.”
“When he did remove the seats on this date, Gumienny decided to himself to keep the seats without telling [Fotis] Dulos in the event they may be needed by police,” Kimball said in the affidavit.
The ‘alibi scripts’
Though Troconis eventually would admit to police that “she had not been truthful,” Kimball said in the affidavit, the statements she provided during a June 2 interview with her attorney present included “a substantial amount of information which was self-contradictory and did not bear up under the scrutiny of investigation.”
“Under directed questioning, Troconis ultimately acknowledged that she was unable to account for the whereabouts of Fotis Dulos on 5/24/19 starting at approximately 8:00 AM until between 1:00 PM and 2:00 PM,” Kimball said.
She also said that she was the passenger in the vehicle Fotis Dulos drove around Hartford for the dump run—a fact that Fotis Dulos’s own attorney denied during his arraignment—though she also “claimed to have no knowledge of what Dulos was doing during the approximately thirty minutes spent dumping garbage bags indicating she was on her cellphone.”
The next day, June 3, investigators while searching through Fotis Dulos’s Farmington home came across “handwritten notes in the Fore Group business office which outlined specific times and activities on 5/24/19 and 5/25/19.”
During a subsequent interview, Troconis said those notes and been “written out by Dulos himself and herself to ‘help them remember’ their activities on these dates.”
“The two pages which Troconis admitted having written included a page of phone activities including call times, durations, whether the calls where incoming or outgoing, and the individual called,” the affidavit said. “Troconis admitted to having authored another page which listed specific activities and their times starting at 6:40 AM until 5:10 PM. The documents also included two handwritten pages which Troconis reported were written by Dulos which included times and activities ascribed to both Troconis and himself. Both notes included information, which was subsequently proven to be inaccurate, events which Troconis was forced to admit during questioning had never happened, and they included alibi witnesses who were later determined to be false. The notes all omitted all incriminating behavior–e.g. disposing of garbage bags in Hartford. Detectives came to refer to these notes as the ‘Alibi Scripts.’ ”
Fotis Dulos and Troconis each were ordered to surrender their passports and wear GPS tracking devices in order to be released.
The explosive information in Kimball’s arrest warrant application represents the first real news development in the case since the June arraignments, though certain news outlets saturated their pages through the summer with shoe-horned coverage of anything remotely Jennifer Dulos-related, including commentary from Fotis Dulos’s attorney and those known to the accused.
The missing woman case consumed much of New Canaan in the days and weeks after police launched the criminal investigation. Though TV and nonlocal newspaper reporters flooded the town seeking quotes from residents, New Canaanites rallied behind Jennifer Dulos and her family, expressing concern for the children’s welfare and honoring the missing woman with multiple vigils.