January 28, 2020

Inside the Jennifer Dulos Murder Inquiry: What 5 Warrants Reveal
While building their case accusing Jennifer Dulos' estranged husband of murdering her, police impounded cars and seized dozens of electronic devices.Additionally, they requested data from cellphone towers across Connecticut and asked Google and Waze whether anyone had searched for directions to Dulos' suburban mansion in the hours after her disappearance.But well before that, the police -- responding to reports that Dulos, 50, had disappeared shortly after dropping her children off at school -- encountered a gruesome, bloody crime scene at her home in affluent New Canaan, Connecticut. They quickly concluded that she had suffered a violent attack there.Those procedural details of the rigorous investigation into Dulos' disappearance in May were revealed last week, when a state judge unsealed 467 pages of search warrants that helped explain how officials came to charge her estranged husband, Fotis Dulos, 52, with murder and kidnapping despite not having recovered Jennifer Dulos' body.Much of the information in the nearly 50 warrants echoed information that the state police made public when they arrested Fotis Dulos on Jan. 7. But the newly public documents provided a more detailed road map of the police's efforts to establish both that Jennifer Dulos was dead and that Fotis Dulos may have been involved.On Thursday, at a court hearing in Stamford, Connecticut, Fotis Dulos pleaded not guilty to the charges against him. Afterward, one of his lawyers, Norm Pattis, told reporters that Jennifer Dulos was still missing and that the state could not definitively determine that she was dead.Here are five of the most revealing warrants released by the authorities:-- 'Blood on the concrete floor'The state police, in bringing murder charges against Fotis Dulos, said that Connecticut's chief medical examiner had determined from blood evidence that Jennifer Dulos' injuries would have been "non-survivable."In the search warrants, the police elaborated on what led to that conclusion. They described a gory crime scene at Jennifer Dulos' home. Blood was smeared on the concrete floor of her three-car garage, where they also found "partial bloody shoe impressions."Investigators found blood on garbage cans and on the door to a Range Rover in the garage, near which blood droplets were also found.The police also said they found "blood spatter" on and inside Jennifer Dulos' black SUV, which was found abandoned near a park 3 miles from her home.In the first day of their investigation -- Jennifer Dulos was reported missing May 24 -- the police said they took nearly 60 swabs from bloodlike stains in her home, as well as on door knobs, a used paper towel roll and fragments of paper towels with similar stains. They also took a dozen more swabs of blood from inside her Suburban.-- A history of domestic callsInvestigators first met with Fotis Dulos the day after Jennifer Dulos was reported missing, but the search warrants suggested that he very quickly became the focus of their investigation.Before her disappearance, Fotis and Jennifer Dulos had been in the midst of a contentious divorce and custody battle for two years. The court case involved hundreds of filings, many of them back-and-forth accusations. Jennifer Dulos had been awarded primary custody of the couple's five children.As the police began investigating Jennifer Dulos' disappearance, the warrants said, a background check revealed that the authorities had received reports of incidents at her home in New Canaan and at another house in Farmington she had previously shared with Fotis Dulos.In one of those incidents, Jennifer Dulos called the police to report that Fotis Dulos had started a verbal dispute between the two of them in front of her children. According to the warrants, Jennifer Dulos said her husband called her a "bad mother" and said that she "belongs to an asylum."Separately, the children's babysitter, Lauren Almeida, told the police that she witnessed several altercations between Jennifer Dulos and her husband.In one fight, Fotis Dulos chased Jennifer Dulos through their house in Farmington until "she finally came running into the bedroom and slammed the door closed," the warrant said.After that, Fotis Dulos pounded on the door until he realized that Almeida and one of his children were also in the room, at which point he seemed to calm down, according to the warrant.Almeida also said that Jennifer Dulos told her that Fotis Dulos once tried to run her over with a car, a claim that Jennifer Dulos also made in a filing in the divorce case.-- A sealed psychological evaluationFive days after she went missing, the police asked for a copy of a confidential report on Jennifer Dulos conducted by a psychologist as part of the custody case.By that point, according to the warrants, the police believed, although they had not definitively established, that Jennifer Dulos had been "assaulted and taken against her will."Investigators believed that the psychological evaluation, performed by a court-appointed psychiatrist, could give them insight into Jennifer Dulos' mental state, the warrant said.The police thought the report could reveal whether Jennifer Dulos "was likely or capable of hurting herself" or if it would otherwise dispute their working theory about her husband's involvement.-- His last visit to her homeEarly in the investigation, Fotis Dulos had told the police that he had been at Jennifer Dulos' home on May 22 -- days before she was reported missing -- for a visit with his children, and that Jennifer Dulos invited him to have dinner and cake on her back patio.While checking Fotis Dulos' story, the police learned that he was required to have a court-appointed supervisor present during his visits with his children. The supervisor and an associate told them that Fotis Dulos never entered Jennifer Dulos' home on May 22, and that Fotis Dulos was "never left unattended" at Jennifer Dulos' home.The police then obtained a search warrant for all records and notes from Fotis Dulos' supervised visits with his children. In their warrant, they said they hoped to confirm that Fotis Dulos never entered Jennifer Dulos' home on the days that he was on the property.They also said they were particularly interested in whether Jennifer Dulos had invited Fotis Dulos to dinner shortly before her disappearance.-- A 'significant amount of pre-planning'On June 1, about a week after the investigation began, the police arrested Fotis Dulos and his then-girlfriend, Michelle C. Troconis, and charged them with evidence tampering and hindering prosecution.The next day, a man who served as a tech consultant for Fotis Dulos and his luxury-development business told the police that Troconis had asked him to back up her phone and computer to an external hard drive, according to a warrant. After doing so, he deleted images from her phone.The consultant told the police that while helping Troconis, he commented that Jennifer Dulos' disappearance "must be really tough" on Fotis Dulos, according to the warrant. He said Troconis' response was simply, "a weird look."The consultant also told police that Fotis Dulos used an online data storage provider, Backblaze, to backup his files to the cloud. The police asked Backblaze to preserve all of Fotis Dulos' records and eventually obtained a warrant for his data.In their request for the warrant, the police said they thought that the attack on Jennifer Dulos involved a "significant amount of pre-planning" as well as a "substantial effort" by both Fotis Dulos and Troconis to hide evidence. They believed the Backblaze data might provide more evidence that Jennifer Dulos was murdered.Troconis, 45, was ultimately charged with conspiracy to commit murder.This article originally appeared in The New York Times.(C) 2020 The New York Times Company
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