One year ago, the quiet affluent town of New Canaan, Connecticut became the setting for a mystery that captivated local residents and the nation.

A mother of five suddenly vanished after dropping her children off at school the Friday morning of May 24, 2019.  

Despite the focus of a global pandemic, it is evident that no one in New Canaan has forgotten about the case today.

One year later, questions still loom over the Jennifer Dulos case

Painted rocks with messages like "Justice for Jennifer" can be found in the center of town, outside the police department and in Waveny Park. They serve as a reminder that the community is determined to get answers.

"They haven't given up hope and neither have we," Detective John Kimball of Connecticut State Police Western District Major Crimes says.

Fifty-year-old Jennifer was last seen dropping her kids off at school. By evening, police had opened a missing persons case and found her car abandoned outside Waveny Park.

The park was searched by local, state and FBI agents, but their search came up empty.

Connecticut State Police quickly became the lead agency in the investigation, later turning their search efforts from Waveny to a trash facility in Hartford, a pond in Avon and multiple properties in Farmington owned by her estranged husband.

But her husband, Fotis Dulos, was under suspicion from the start.
Both Jennifer and Fotis had been going through a bitter divorce and custody battle over their five children for two years.

"We wanted his cooperation and no one spoke to us to date," says Sgt. Kenneth Ventresca of Connecticut State Police Western District Major Crimes. 

Connecticut State Police officers lead Fotis Dulos, center, from the State Police barracks to a waiting car Tuesday, Jan. 7, 2020, in Bridgeport, Conn., after he was arrested at his home in Farmington. (AP Photo/Chris Ehrmann)

Over the course of the investigation, police would arrest Dulos three times.  He would be charged with evidence tampering, hindering prosecution, and eventually murder, felony murder and kidnapping.

Jennifer had filed for divorce following 13 years of marriage after learning Dulos was having an affair.

I know he will retaliate by trying to harm me in some way.

In court documents, Jennifer alleged "irrational, unsafe, bullying, threatening and controlling behavior," stating she was afraid for her safety.

"I know he will retaliate by trying to harm me in some way," she wrote.

Eight days after Jennifer's disappearance, police arrested Dulos and his live-in girlfriend Michelle Troconis, charging both with evidence tampering and hindering prosecution.

ORIGINAL COVERAGE: Police hand out flyers after Jennifer Dulos goes missing:

ORIGINAL COVERAGE: Estranged husband, his girlfriend arrested in Jennifer Dulos case:

Their arrest warrants state the two were captured on surveillance cameras dumping bloody evidence in a Hartford neighborhood. The items included the shirt Jennifer was wearing the day she disappeared and zip ties with her DNA and items including Jennifer's clothing, paper towels and cleaning supplies.

We developed a significant amount of evidence from the garage that leads us to believe Jennifer is no longer alive.

Investigators also found Jennifer's blood in her garage along with signs of a cleanup, concluding that's where she'd been the victim of a "serious physical assault."

"We developed a significant amount of evidence from the garage that leads us to believe Jennifer is no longer alive," Detective Kimball says. 

A police officer watches over an area outside of the garage to Fotis Dulos' home, Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2020, in Farmington. Dulos later died from injuries sustained in an attempt to take his own life. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)

Three months later, Dulos and Troconis were arrested again and faced new evidence tampering charges, but this time in connection to a truck police say Dulos borrowed from an employee and drove to New Canaan the morning Jennifer disappeared.

In court documents, police wrote he was "lying in wait at 69 Welles Lane for his wife to return home."

Dulos and Troconis were later seen on video getting the truck police believe carried Jennifer's body cleaned and detailed.

The truck's owner told police Dulos insisted the seats be replaced.

The man did so but held on to them, turning the seats over to police who found Jennifer's blood on one of them.

ORIGINAL COVERAGE: Fotis Dulos charged with murder

On Thursday, Jan. 7, 228 days after Jennifer was last seen alive, Dulos was taken into custody a third time - now charged with murder, felony murder, and kidnapping.

"I wanted to make sure we had information from the medical examiner, I wanted to make sure, and we wanted to have all the forensic testing done from the lab and I wanted to give the state police the opportunity to come up with a warrant that explained all of that. When all of those things happened, Detective Kimball sent me the warrant and I signed it," Chief State’s Attorney Richard Colangelo Jr. says.

In court documents, police wrote he was 'lying in wait at 69 Welles Lane for his wife to return home.'

The warrant included investigators' discovery of Dulos' DNA inside Jennifer's home on a doorknob and mixed with her blood on a faucet.

Police also re-arrested Troconis the same day, this time charging her with conspiracy to commit murder.

Dulos' friend and former attorney Kent Mawhinney was also booked on the same charge.

Police say Mawhinney was at Fotis Dulos' home the morning of Jennifer's death to provide a fake alibi for him.

ORIGINAL COVERAGE: Fotis Dulos in critical condition after apparent suicide attempt:

However, a trial wouldn't happen. On Jan. 30, 2020, Dulos died at Jacobi Medical Center in the Bronx after a suicide attempted at his Farmington home just two days prior.

"It was shocking," Colangelo says.

Dulos was found in his garage, unresponsive from carbon monoxide poisoning.

A note found beside him declared, "I refuse to spend even an hour more in jail for something I had nothing to do with."

ORIGINAL COVERAGE: Fotis Dulos declared dead


Police say there's no mistake about who was behind the kidnapping, disappearance and murder of Jennifer Dulos.

"With the death of Mr. Dulos, this case is by no means over," Detective Kimball says,  "I think there are still people out there who possess evidence that could lead us to the whereabouts of Jennifer or at least what happened to her."

Dulos' death doesn't change the charges against Troconis and Mawhinney, both of whom have pleaded not guilty. Both their cases will go forward.

A memorial for Jennifer Dulos is seen Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2020, in Farmington. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)

Troconis released a statement on May 21 in which she wrote that she has no idea where Jennifer is. "It's frustrating to remain quiet and rely on the justice system," Troconis says. "I am saddened for the loss that these five children have suffered, being left without both parents in such a short period of time."

"I'm really not going to comment on pending cases but I will say that you know, the evidence is the evidence," Colangelo says.

Police maintain that their top priority continues to be finding Jennifer.

Tips are still coming in daily and work is ongoing to give her loved ones a sense of closure and justice.

VIDEO: Extended interviews on the Jennifer Dulos case


In a statement about the one-year anniversary, family's spokesperson Carrie Luft wrote, "The ache of Jennifer's absence doesn't go away. Countless questions remain unanswered. The brutality and inhumanity of her death and disappearance continue to haunt us, without subsiding."

She was gentle, kind, brilliant, and courageous, and we still cannot believe she is gone.

Luft continued, "Somehow an entire year has elapsed. We can see it, and measure it, in the growth of her children, who are taller, stronger, wiser, and more like their mom every day."

"She was gentle, kind, brilliant, and courageous, and we still cannot believe she is gone," Luft says.

Project Credits:

Marissa Alter - Reporter, News 12 Connecticut
James DiGregorio - Lead Senior Network Designer
Jay Lederman - News 12 Digital Producer
Jim Mennino - Photographer/Editor
Stacey Pattberg - News Director, News 12 Connecticut
Frank Pokorney - Assistant News Director, News 12 Digital
Chris Vaccaro - Vice President, News 12 Digital