Accused wife-killer Fotis Dulos tried Tuesday to take his own life at home in Farmington, officials said.
Arrested three weeks ago and charged with murder, Fotis Dulos tried to kill himself by carbon monoxide poisoning in a car parked in his garage, according to Farmington Police Lt. Tim McKenzie, the department’s public information officer.
He’s in critical condition at UConn Health, McKenzie said during a televised press conference in sight of Fotis Dulos’s Jefferson Crossing home.
Officers received a call at 11:54 a.m. to check on Fotis Dulos because he couldn’t be found for a scheduled court appearance, McKenzie said.
“When officers responded they could see through a window that Mr. Dulos was sitting in his vehicle and he had obvious signs of medical distress,” he said. “Officers forced entry and immediately began to perform lifesaving measures.”
No one else was home, McKenzie said.
The attempt follows mounting financial pressure on Fotis Dulos as well as revelations that investigators had gathered extensive circumstantial evidence pointing to him in connection with the May 24 disappearance of his wife, later established as murder.
He was first arrested about one week after Jennifer Dulos disappeared and charged with felony tampering and hindering. A joint investigation of local, state and federal authorities showed that Fotis Dulos and then-girlfriend Michelle Troconis had traveled through Hartford the day after the murder dumping crime-scene evidence in garbage receptacles and stormwater drains. Conditions of release included that Fotis Dulos surrender his passport and wear a tracking device on his ankle.
A second round of tampering and hindering charges followed in September. In securing warrants for those charges, police revealed that highway and other surveillance cameras showed Fotis Dulos driving early on the morning of May 24 from Farmington to New Canaan, where he laid in wait for his estranged wife to return from dropping their children off at school. The state police detective’s affidavit also asserted that Fotis Dulos had attempted to dispose of incriminating evidence by having the “borrowed” pickup truck he used to get to New Canaan detailed, and urging its owner—an employee of his own home construction business—to get rid of its back seats (he didn’t).
In bringing murder and kidnapping charges earlier this month, police revealed that they’d gathered even more surveillance video, including at least one that showed Fotis Dulos pedaling a bicycle from where he’d parked the pickup at Waveny to Jennifer Dulos’s Welles Lane home. The newest police affidavits also included analysis of her garage, house and SUV by the state’s chief medical examiner, including bloodstains, blood spatter and blood loss, and other evidence of “non-survivable” injuries following a “homicide of violence” that included 36-inch zip-ties used “to secure and incapacitate Jennifer Dulos for some time period” to prevent her escape. The murder itself likely included “some combination of traumatic, blunt force injuries such as a bludgeoning/beating and/or sharp-force injuries such as a stabbing/slashing,” according to an affidavit from Detective John Kimball of the state police Western District Major Crime Squad.
Troconis—with whom Fotis Dulos had carried on an affair, leading in part to Jennifer Dulos filing for divorce two years prior to her disappearance—was charged with conspiracy to commit murder. So was Kent Mawhinney, a Bloomfield attorney and friend of Fotis Dulos who had worked as the first lawyer to represent him in defense of civil suit brought by Jennifer Dulos’s mother, Gloria Farber, after divorce and custody filings. Mawhinney is accused of traveling to a wooded hunting club property upstate two months before the murder to dig a 3.5-foot-deep, 6-foot-long grave that unsuspecting club members happened to come across, with a blue tarp and two bags of lime inside.
It isn’t clear whether Fotis Dulos left a note, what additional evidence police may still be withholding, or whether Troconis or Mawhinney since their arrests have provided new information to police.
Major open questions in the case include what happened to Jennifer Dulos’s body and where it is.
The case initially garnered little attention. Police issued a Silver Alert hours after Jennifer Dulos was reported missing. The following week, however, as photos of Jennifer Dulos emerged and she still was missing when revelations emerged that she’d said in divorce filings that she feared for her life, nonlocal media picked up the story. Soon, police K9 units and FBI search teams could be seen trawling through the woods of Waveny and other sites in New Canaan and beyond in efforts to locate the missing woman.
Park-goers found themselves accosted by TV reporters asking about safety in New Canaan as well as their thoughts on the missing woman. Nonlocal news reported breathlessly on search activity and rumors about active missing person and criminal investigations—forcing police in some cases to correct mistakes while relatives asked for privacy. On Tuesday, legacy media outlets including Hearst Connecticut and the Hartford Courant published anonymously sourced accounts that Fotis Dulos was dead—later over-writing their headlines online and scrubbing social media teasers.
In New Canaan, locals rallied behind Jennifer Dulos and her family, expressing concern for the children’s welfare and honoring the missing woman with multiple vigils. As time passed and it became increasingly difficult to imagine a scenario in which she was still alive, painted rocks bearing the words “Justice for Jennifer” began to appear around New Canaan, including at Town Hall, the Police Department and Lapham Road entrance to Waveny.
On Jan. 22, the state filed a motion to modify the conditions of Fotis Dulos’s release, saying he had violated his terms of release by removing items from a memorial to Jennifer Dulos set up at the end of his street in Farmington.
An emergency bond hearing was scheduled for Tuesday in state Superior Court in Stamford, and it’s unclear whether Fotis Dulos—out on $6 million bond on the most recent charges—would have been remanded to state custody.
He’s beset by financial difficulties that go back at least two years. Jennifer Dulos’s mother, Gloria Farber, in February 2018 brought a civil lawsuit claiming Fotis Dulos owed her family $2.5 million in loans. The last legal filing that Jennifer Dulos made in their protracted divorce proceedings while she was alive, on May 8, was a motion for contempt, saying that Fotis Dulos had filed an “improper and misleading financial affidavit.”
“The Defendant on his financial affidavit of May 7, 2019, states that the value of assets which he claims to own (which does not include a value for the Fore Group, Inc.) is $363,228.50,” the motion said. It referred to Fotis Dulos’s construction business, which is operated out of his Farmington home. According to New Canaan building and tax records, Fore Group in 2015 received a permit to build a 10,000-square-foot home on Hemlock Hill Road that in May 2017 sold for $5.2 million. The company in July 2017 purchased a Sturbridge Hill Road property for $1.5 million, knocked down the existing home and in April 2018 received a permit to build a 7,300-square-foot house there.
On Jan. 10, he received a $272,150 mortgage on that Sturbridge Hill Road home from the same bail bonds company that posted the $6 million to release him from police custody on the murder and kidnapping charges. The property, however, was already heavily encumbered, according to land records on file in the Town Clerk’s office—to the tune of $4.7 million (the property was last appraised at $2,663,100, tax records show).
It isn’t clear just how much money Fotis Dulos paid to the bondsman, 24/7 Bail Bonds LLC—their agreement amounts to a private contract that is not subject to public records requests, and bondsman Jerry Cao referred a NewCanaanite.com inquiry to his lawyer, who did not return a call for comment.
Fotis Dulos likely needed to pay the bondsman $420,000, experts said, or about 7% of the $6 million bond. Of that, he likely needed to come up with 35% upfront, or $147,000 (with the balance of that covered by the mortgage).
Encumbrances on the property include a $2.8 million mortgage with the Savings Bank of Danbury, a $500,000 judgment in favor of Farber by Superior Court in Hartford, and mortgages with Ioannis Toutziaridis ($500,000) and Harry Masiello ($600,000), as well as various mechanics’ liens at smaller amounts.
Kimball in his most recent affidavit cites the Farber lawsuit and notes that “multiple lines of credit” totaling some $4.5 million were held against Fotis Dulos’s construction properties. The Fore Group business account includes funding by lines of credit from People’s United Bank totaling $530,000, Kimball said in the application. Dulos’s “debt increased significantly at the same time his ability to support his business through line advances diminished, causing him to seek other means of funding his business,” such as through a wire advance in April 2019 of $149,500.