Hus­band pleads not guilty

Fo­tis Du­los posts bail as pros­e­cu­tor re­veals DNA evidence claim­ing to link him to miss­ing wife

Hartford Courant - - Front Page - By Dave Al­ti­mari, David Owens and Ni­cholas Rondi­none

STAM­FORD — Fo­tis Du­los pleaded not guilty, posted bail and walked out of a Stam­ford court­house Tues­day, hours after a state pros­e­cu­tor an­nounced that in­ves­ti­ga­tors had found Du­los’ DNA mixed with that of his miss­ing wife, Jennifer Far­ber Du­los, in her New Canaan home. A short while later, in fam­ily court, Du­los re­fused to an­swer ques­tions by in­vok­ing his Fifth Amend­ment right against self-in­crim­i­na­tion dur­ing a brief hear­ing over the cus­tody of their five chil­dren.

The dra­matic day in court cul­mi­nated when Du­los, still dressed in an orange prison jump­suit and sur­rounded by court se­cu­rity and state po­lice, emerged from Stam­ford Su­pe­rior Court, got into a car, and headed back to the Farm­ing­ton house that has been the fo­cus of an in­tense state po­lice search over the past few weeks since the May 24 dis­ap­pear­ance of Far­ber Du­los.

Du­los’ live-in girl­friend, Michelle Tro­co­nis, also pleaded not guilty Tues­day to charges of tam­per­ing with evidence and hin­der­ing pros­e­cu­tion dur­ing a two-minute court ap­pear­ance in the same court­house. She has

been free on $500,000 bail since June 3 and was seen last week walk­ing with state po­lice de­tec­tives around the grounds of the Jef­fer­son Cross­ing home in Farm­ing­ton she shares with Du­los.

Tues­day’s court hear­ing was also the first time Du­los publicly fought the al­le­ga­tions against him with his new at­tor­ney, Norm Pat­tis, at­tack­ing the state’s case as weak dur­ing a con­tentious bond hear­ing be­fore Judge John F. Blawie.

“Du­los has been tried and con­victed for a crime that he hasn’t even been charged for,” Pat­tis said. “I’m some­what sur­prised that we are even here at all since we’ve been able to ac­count for al­most all of his time that day.”

It was dur­ing the bond hear­ing that Stam­ford/Norwalk State’s At­tor­ney Richard Colan­gelo an­nounced that re­cent lab re­sults from po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tors showed the DNA of Du­los mixed with Far­ber Du­los’ blood on a faucet in the kitchen of Far­ber Du­los’ New Canaan home.

Colan­gelo strongly ob­jected to the bail reduction for Du­los and asked Blawie in­stead to raise the bond to $850,000. He told the judge there was no ex­pla­na­tion for Du­los’ blood to be on the faucet. Colan­gelo said that while Du­los had been at the New Canaan home on May 22, two days be­fore Du­los’ wife dis­ap­peared, visit­ing his chil­dren for din­ner, wit­nesses told po­lice he never en­tered the home and there­fore could not have left blood on the faucet that night. He said the search for Far­ber Du­los is “a fluid in­ves­ti­ga­tion” and new evidence is com­ing in ev­ery day.

Blawie kept bail at $500,000 for Du­los, and or­dered that he turn in his pass­port and wear an an­kle bracelet with a GPS mon­i­tor­ing de­vice that Tro­co­nis also is re­quired to wear. The judge con­tin­ued Tro­co­nis’ case to July 18. Du­los is ex­pected to ap­pear in court again on Aug. 2.

Pat­tis had pushed to have Du­los’ bail re­duced to $100,000, say­ing the state’s case was weak and that he doubted his client would ever be charged with mur­der

He asked if the case could go to trial next month.

Pat­tis said that while the state put in­for­ma­tion about some of Du­los’ cell­phone records for where he was after 1 p.m. on May 24 in the ar­rest war­rant af­fi­davit, author­i­ties have re­fused to say what his move­ments were that morn­ing even though they have his cell­phone.

Pat­tis said that they can ac­count for most of Du­los’ time on the morn­ing Far­ber Du­los dis­ap­peared.

“There’s a nar­row win­dow of time that is un­ac­counted for but it would not be pos­si­ble for him to have come down here and com­mit this crime and go back home,” Pat­tis said.

Pat­tis also said New Canaan po­lice il­le­gal ly seized Du­los’ cell­phone dur­ing their in­ves­ti­ga­tion, re­fus­ing to give it back to him after he came to the po­lice de­part­ment the day after Far­ber Du­los dis­ap­peared.

“This was not a seizure but a theft,” Pat­tis said.

The court ap­pear­ances of Du­los and Tro­co­nis on Tues­day co­in­cided with another search at a Hart­ford trash fa­cil­ity for clues to Far­ber Du­los’ where­abouts. Po­lice also have spent the past two weeks search­ing Farm­ing­ton-area prop­er­ties owned by Du­los’ home building com­pany, The Fore Group.

Ahead of the hear­ings, mem­bers of Tro­co­nis’ fam­ily, in­clud­ing her mother and uncle, sat in the front row of the court­room gallery with her lawyer, An­drew Bow­man.

Sources told The Courant Mon­day that po­lice are aware Tro­co­nis was not in New Canaan on the day Far­ber Du­los went miss­ing. Tro­co­nis has been co­op­er­at­ing with author­i­ties and has told them she does not know what hap­pened to Far­ber Du­los or her where­abouts.

Out­side the Stam­ford court­house Tues­day, the me­dia pres­ence was ex­ten­sive with a num­ber of tele­vi­sion news crews wait­ing for Tro­co­nis and her fam­ily to come and go on Tues­day.

Also in Su­pe­rior Court in Stam­ford Tues­day, at­tor­neys in the con­tentious, two-year cus­tody bat­tle be­tween Far­ber Du­los and Du­los met with a judge.

Just hours after the hear­ing in crim­i­nal court and as his lawyers were still wait­ing for his pass­port to be de­liv­ered, Du­los, clad in an orange prison jump­suit, was called to the wit­ness stand dur­ing a hear­ing in fam­ily court over a mo­tion by his mother-in-law Gloria Far­ber to get tem­po­rary cus­tody of the five chil­dren. But his lawyers said he would in­voke his Fifth Amend­ment right against self-in­crim­i­na­tion.

Judge Donna Nel­son Heller did not re­quire Du­los to take the stand, but said tak­ing the Fifth Amend­ment could have an ad­verse im­pact on her de­ci­sion.

The hear­ing was on a mo­tion by Gloria Far­ber, Far­ber Du­los’ mother, to in­ter­vene in the two-year long di­vorce pro­ceed­ings as she con­tin­ues to care for the cou­ple’s five chil­dren in her New York City apart­ment. Her lawyer, Anne C. Drangi­nis, ar­gued be­fore Heller that Far­ber has given them a home and pro­vided for them in the 18 days since their mother’s dis­ap­pear­ance.

The chil­dren are “be­ing nur­tured and emo­tion­ally sup­ported through this hor­ren­dous time in their lives,” Drangi­nis said.

The chil­dren’s guardian ad litem, At­tor­ney Michael Mee­han, tes­ti­fied that the chil­dren were be­ing ap­pro­pri­ately cared for by their grand­mother.

An at­tor­ney for Du­los, Michael Rose, urged Heller not to make a rul­ing un­til more in­for­ma­tion was avail­able. Heller did not rule dur­ing the hear­ing on the cus­tody of the chil­dren. A pro­tec­tive or­der re­mains in place bar­ring Fo­tis Du­los from con­tact­ing them now that he has posted bail.

A lo­cal pro­bate court has granted tem­po­rary cus­tody of the chil­dren to Far­ber, Drangi­nis said.

Far­ber Du­los’ fam­ily and friends thanked law en­force­ment for their con­tin­ued ef­forts in a state­ment re­leased Tues­day night, not­ing “the enor­mous hu­man cost of this tragedy” weighs heav­i­est on the Du­los chil­dren.

“Jennifer’s fam­ily, friends, and above all her chil­dren are liv­ing in limbo — miss­ing her em­brace, her lilt­ing laugh, her bed­time back­rubs, her gen­tle strength,” the state­ment read. “Please know that the chil­dren are safe and loved and sup­ported in ev­ery re­spect. But more than any­thing in the world, they long to know where their mother is.”

Both Du­los and Tro­co­nis are charged with tam­per­ing with evidence and hin­der­ing pros­e­cu­tion stem­ming from video Hart­ford po­lice re­cov­ered show­ing a man that looked like Du­los throw­ing mul­ti­ple garbage bags into trash re­cep­ta­cles on Al­bany Av­enue the same

night that Far­ber Du­los dis­ap­peared, court records said.

A woman re­sem­bling Tro­co­nis at one point is seen on video sit­ting in the pas­sen­ger seat and ei­ther plac­ing some­thing on the ground or pick­ing up an item as the man throws out the bags, ac­cord­ing to court records. The doc­u­ments don’t say what she placed on the ground and there is no video evidence that she handled any of the trash bags.

State po­lice de­tec­tives rushed to Al­bany Av­enue on May 31 and found some of the trash bags that had been thrown out. Court records said DNAtest­ing on some of the bloody clothes, tow­els and sponges in the bags matched Far­ber Du­los.

Po­lice were too late to get some of the garbage and have spent the last week painstak­ingly search­ing through a moun­tain of trash at the Ma­te­ri­als In­no­va­tion and Re­cy­cling Au­thor­ity’s trash-to-en­ergy plant on Maxim Road in Hart­ford’s South Mead­ows. A corps of state po­lice, us­ing Ger­man Shep­herd ca­daver dogs, have been shift­ing through the garbage in search of for more evidence.

They are ex­pected to re­turn to the trash plant Wed­nes­day to con­tinue that search.

In ad­di­tion to the Al­bany Av­enue neigh­bor­hood in Hart­ford, po­lice also have searched lo­ca­tions in sev­eral towns, in­clud­ing Far­ber Du­los’ home in New Canaan, where she lives with her chil­dren, who range in age from 8 to 13, a park near her home where her ve­hi­cle was found and sev­eral prop­er­ties in Farm­ing­ton.

Far­ber Du­los was last seen drop­ping her chil­dren off at the New Canaan Coun­try Day School around 8 a.m. May 24. Po­lice be­lieve that she was at­tacked in her Welles Av­enue home some­time be­tween 8 and 11 a.m. A clean­ing woman en­tered the home around noon. Far­ber Du­los wasn’t re­ported miss­ing un­til 7 p.m. that night. When New Canaan po­lice en­tered the garage area of her home, they found dark stains be­lieved to be blood on the floor as well blood spat­ter and evidence of a cleanup.

Far­ber Du­los’ black Chevy Sub­ur­ban was found on Lapham. Road near Waveny Park, where at least three searches have taken place.

On Mon­day, New Canaan po­lice said they cre­ated a web­site seeking tips on Far­ber Du­los’ where­abouts.

“In ad­di­tion to the tip line, 203-594-3544, to fur­ther gather in­for­ma­tion re­gard­ing Jennifer’s dis­ap­pear­ance we now have a ded­i­cated e-mail FindJen­nifer­Du­[email protected]­canaanct.gov and web­site www.FindJen­nifer­Du­los.com,” Chief Leon Kro­likowski said.

PATRICK RAYCRAFT/HART­FORD COURANT PHO­TOS

Fo­tis Du­los, still clad in a orange prison jump­suit, sits in the pas­sen­ger seat of his at­tor­ney’s ve­hi­cle after he was es­corted from the Stam­ford court­house by state po­lice and ju­di­cial mar­shals.

Fo­tis Du­los’ girl­friend, Michelle Tro­co­nis, leaves Stam­ford Su­pe­rior Court on Tues­day morn­ing with her at­tor­ney, at right. Her case was con­tin­ued to July 18 in the brief ap­pear­ance.

ERIK TRAUTMANN/AP

Fo­tis Du­los, cen­ter, lis­tens, as his at­tor­ney Norm Pat­tis, left, ad­dresses the court dur­ing a hear­ing Tues­day in Stam­ford.

Far­ber Du­los

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