A Connecticut man was ordered detained Wednesday on $6 million bail on charges that he killed his estranged wife — a crime investigators say stood to benefit him financially as the couple went through bitter divorce and child custody proceedings.
Fotis Dulos, 52, of Farmington, Connecticut, was arraigned in Stamford Superior Court, along with two other people authorities say helped him cover up the killing of Jennifer Dulos. Fotis Dulos may be able to post bail Thursday, his attorney said. If he is released, he will be placed under house arrest and barred from contact with his children.
Jennifer Dulos, a mother of five from New Canaan, has not been seen since she dropped her children off at school on May 24, when she was 50.
Police have not commented publicly on the murder charges, but the arrest warrants hint at a financial motive. Fotis Dulos had debt totaling $7 million and would have expected some access to his children's trust funds if Jennifer Dulos disappeared and he got custody of the children, the warrants said.
Fotis Dulos, who has denied any role in her disappearance, wore a blazer, dress shirt and jeans at the arraignment. His lawyer, Norman Pattis, noted Jennifer Dulos’ body has not been found.
“What we have is a suspicious disappearance and an entirely circumstantial case,” Pattis told reporters after the court hearings. “After this great length of time, I expected to see a forensic display that was breathtaking. I saw nothing.”
Also arraigned Wednesday were Fotis Dulos’ former girlfriend, Michelle Troconis, and his friend, attorney Kent Mawhinney, who are each charged with conspiracy to commit murder. Police accuse them of helping Fotis Dulos cover up the killing, including by drawing up a bogus alibi for him.
Judge John Blawie set Troconis’ bail at $1.5 million and Mawhinney's bail at $2 million. Both were arrested Tuesday after police took Fotis Dulos into custody at his Farmington home. Troconis’ lawyer, Andrew Bowman, said he expected her to post bail Thursday.
Lawyers for Troconis and Mawhinney have not publicly addressed the allegations.
In Connecticut, defendants may be released after paying a bail bondsman 7% to 10% of their total bail, with the bondsman on the hook for the full amount if the defendant disappears.
In the new arrest warrants released Tuesday, police also revealed allegations that Mawhinney's cellphone pinged a tower May 31 near the Windsor Rod & Gun Club, where hunters had found a hole dug into the ground May 18.
The hunters said that the hole was big enough for a human body, and that inside the hole was a tarp and unopened bags of lime, which officials say can be used to cover the smell of dead bodies. The hole was found covered up in June. Police later dug up the site but did not find anything.
Fotis Dulos had been identified months earlier as the prime suspect in his wife's disappearance. He and Troconis were charged with evidence tampering and hindering prosecution in June and pleaded not guilty.
After Jennifer Dulos was reported missing, police found a bloody scene in the garage of her home in New Canaan. Police said Jennifer Dulos’ DNA was found in blood stains, and Fotis Dulos’ DNA was found on a mudroom door, and his DNA was found mixed with Jennifer Dulos’ DNA on the kitchen sink faucet.
According to arrest warrants, Fotis Dulos was recorded on surveillance video in Hartford, with Troconis riding with him in a pickup truck in the evening of May 24, disposing of items including clothing and plastic zip ties that were later found to have Jennifer Dulos’ DNA on them.
Citing surveillance videos from highways and homes, police alleged Fotis Dulos drove to New Canaan in a Toyota pickup truck the morning of May 24 and parked at a site where Jennifer Dulos’ SUV was later found abandoned. They say there is also video of someone riding a bicycle toward Jennifer Dulos’ home that morning.
According to arrest warrants, a medical examiner determined Jennifer Dulos likely died by “some combination of traumatic, blunt-force injuries such as a bludgeoning/beating, and/or sharp-force injuries such as a stabbing/slashing.”
Jennifer Dulos’ mother has custody of the children.
State police said that Mawhinney had Fotis Dulos’ cellphone with him the morning of May 24 and he and Tronconis were at Fotis Dulos’ home that morning.
Mawhinney once represented Fotis Dulos in lawsuits filed by Jennifer Dulos’ mother, who claims Fotis Dulos never repaid her late husband for about $3 million in loans he gave Fotis Dulos to develop expensive homes.
Mawhinney is charged in another case with sexually assaulting his estranged wife in South Windsor last year and violating a protective order. He has pleaded not guilty. In court documents in those cases, Mawhinney's wife told told authorities that Fotis Dulos had spoken to her on Mawhinney's behalf and that she believed Mawhinney was plotting to have her killed.