Mys­tery deep­ens in Du­los case

Pat­tis: Tro­co­nis not in New Canaan day mother of five went miss­ing

Stamford Advocate - - Front Page - By Jim Shay and Lisa Backus

NEW CANAAN — While au­thor­i­ties have been speaking with one of the de­fen­dants in the Jennifer Du­los case, they may not be any closer to find­ing the mother of five.

Her es­tranged hus­band, Fo­tis Du­los, and his girl­friend, Michelle Tro­co­nis are ex­pected to plead not guilty Tuesday when they

ap­pear in state Su­pe­rior Court in Stam­ford.

They have been charged with ev­i­dence tam­per­ing and hin­der­ing pros­e­cu­tion in the dis­ap­pear­ance of Jennifer Du­los, who was last seen around 8 a.m. May 24 drop­ping off her chil­dren at New Canaan

Coun­try School.

Tro­co­nis, who has met with in­ves­ti­ga­tors at least twice since she was re­leased on bail last Mon­day, was not in New Canaan the day Jennifer Du­los went miss­ing, her boyfriend’s new high­pro­file at­tor­ney said Mon­day.

Norm Pat­tis, a con­tro­ver­sial New Haven lawyer who rep­re­sents In­fowars host Alex Jones and was con­demned for racial Face­book posts, said on WPLR’s “Chaz and AJ” ra­dio show that law en­force­ment “may be sat­is­fied” with Tro­co­nis’ story.

“I’m told by peo­ple with in­for­ma­tion that the girl­friend was never at the New Canaan home that day — the day the wife went miss­ing — and that she can prove she never was there and that law en­force­ment may be sat­is­fied,” Pat­tis said on the ra­dio show. “That is a very sig­nif­i­cant fact in this case."

Pat­tis met with his new client for the first time on Mon­day at the Bridge­port Cor­rec­tional Cen­ter, where Fo­tis Du­los is being held on $500,000 bond. Pat­tis said he ex­pects to have a bond “pack­age” for his client this week.

“I cau­tion the world at large that things are rarely as they ap­pear early on in a sen­sa­tion­al­ized in­ves­ti­ga­tion like this one,” Pat­tis said in a state­ment. “The rush to judg­ment stops now as does the con­vic­tion by in­nu­endo. If nec­es­sary, we’ll let a jury de­cide what hap­pened here.”

Pat­tis re­placed Eu­gene Ric­cio, who rep­re­sented Fo­tis Du­los at his first court ap­pear­ance last week. Three teams of at­tor­neys who have rep­re­sented Fo­tis Du­los in his di­vorce case, which is sched­uled for a hear­ing in Stam­ford fam­ily court on Tuesday, and a civil law­suit filed by his moth­erin-law have pe­ti­tioned to be re­moved from the pro­ceed­ings in re­cent days.

As the search for Jennifer Du­los con­tin­ued for a 17th day on Mon­day, in­ves­ti­ga­tors returned to a Hart­ford garbage dump and lo­cal po­lice an­nounced the launch of a web­site ded­i­cated to the case.

In­ves­ti­ga­tors spent most of the past week at the garbage site sift­ing through trash they say came from re­cep­ta­cles where Fo­tis Du­los was seen toss­ing bags con­tain­ing his es­tranged wife’s blood the night she dis­ap­peared.

Ac­cord­ing to their ar­rest war­rants, Fo­tis Du­los and Tro­co­nis were seen on video driv­ing in the Al­bany Av­enue area of Hart­ford on May 24 when the bags were dumped. Po­lice said cell­phone data placed them there as well.

State po­lice with the help of K-9s trained to sniff ca­dav­ers have been search­ing the garbage fa­cil­ity. New Canaan po­lice said Mon­day in­ves­ti­ga­tors were look­ing for bi­o­log­i­cal flu­ids con­nected to the case.

New Canaan po­lice have also cre­ated a web­site ded­i­cated to the case. Po­lice said they have re­ceived more than 300 tips and about 75 re­sponses to their re­quest for se­cu­rity video footage.

“We urge ev­ery­one with in­for­ma­tion re­gard­ing Jennifer’s dis­ap­pear­ance to contact us,” New Canaan Po­lice Chief Leon Kro­likowski said in a state­ment. “We will not rest un­til we find Jennifer.”

Pat­tis told WPLR that he was “gob­s­macked” by what he heard re­ported about his client.

“From afar, peo­ple have con­cluded that Mr. Du­los was both present and did in fact en­gage in un­law­ful con­duct,” Pat­tis said Mon­day. “Based on what I’ve learned in the last 72 hours, I’m not pre­pared to as­sume that’s the case any longer.”

Pat­tis took on a sim­i­lar case in 2015 when he rep­re­sented Jennifer Valiante, the girl­friend of Kyle Navin, who is serv­ing 55 years in prison for killing his par­ents, Jef­frey and Jean­nette. Valiante co­op­er­ated with au­thor­i­ties and was sen­tenced to eight years for her role in the killings.

Like the Du­los case, au­thor­i­ties con­ducted a mas­sive search for the Navins, in­clud­ing at land­fills as in­ves­ti­ga­tors have been doing for the past week in Hart­ford.

In ad­di­tion to the Hart­ford dump, au­thor­i­ties have been fo­cus­ing their searches at prop­er­ties con­nected to Fo­tis Du­los’ cus­tom home­build­ing com­pany, the Fore Group.

Po­lice searched a metal dump­ster last week out­side a New Canaan home being de­vel­oped by the Fore Group. Neigh­bors of 61 Stur­bridge Hill Road said they were wo­ken up by the loud sounds of metal bang­ing in the predawn hours the morn­ing af­ter Jennifer Du­los went miss­ing.

Tro­co­nis met at least twice with in­ves­ti­ga­tors last week, in­clud­ing on Fri­day when she and her at­tor­ney, An­drew Bow­man, were seen at the Farm­ing­ton home where she and her boyfriend have been liv­ing to­gether

af­ter Jennifer Du­los moved to New Canaan when she filed for di­vorce in 2017.

Drone footage showed Tro­co­nis leading in­ves­ti­ga­tors into the wooded area be­hind the home that leads to the West Hart­ford Reser­voir.

State of­fi­cials have been closely watching the in­ves­ti­ga­tion, ac­cord­ing to a top aide for James Rovella, the com­mis­sioner of the state De­part­ment of Emer­gency Ser­vices and Pub­lic Protection.

Rovella’s agency en­com­passes the Connecticu­t State Po­lice who have been work­ing with New Canaan po­lice and Richard Colan­gelo Jr., the state’s at­tor­ney for the Stam­ford-Norwalk judicial dis­trict.

“Com­mis­sioner Rovella and (state po­lice) Col. Stavros Mellekas are two of the most re­spected homi­cide de­tec­tives in the state and they are watching this very closely,” said Brian Fo­ley, ex­ec­u­tive aide to Rovella.

As the head of the Chief State’s At­tor­ney’s Cold Case Unit, Rovella was in­stru­men­tal in New Bri­tain State’s At­tor­ney Brian Pre­leski gain­ing a 2007 man­slaugh­ter con­vic­tion of Wil­liam Devon Howell in the dis­ap­pear­ance of Nilsa Ariz­mendi whose body was not found un­til 2015, Fo­ley said.

Howell was serv­ing a 15-year sen­tence in her death when new in­for­ma­tion led to the discovery that he killed six other vic­tims around the time Ariz­mendi dis­ap­peared in 2003. Howell is now serv­ing a 360-year sen­tence.

Fo­ley said the state po­lice have pro­vided re­sources as needed for the New Canaan in­ves­ti­ga­tion, which is now un­der the di­rec­tion of Colan­gelo.

“Tech­ni­cally, it’s a miss­ing per­son’s case,” Fo­ley said. “But in­ves­ti­ga­tors ap­proach these cases as if it were a homi­cide un­til we learn oth­er­wise.”

The in­ves­ti­ga­tors from the var­i­ous agen­cies are “func­tion­ing like a task force un­der the state’s at­tor­ney right now,” Fo­ley said.

Con­trib­uted photo

New Canaan po­lice have added on the de­part­ment’s web­site a page ded­i­cated to the Jennifer Du­los case.

Tyler Size­more / As­so­ci­ated Press

Michelle Tro­co­nis, who has met with in­ves­ti­ga­tors at least twice since she was re­leased on bail last Mon­day, was not in New Canaan the day Jennifer Du­los went miss­ing, her boyfriend’s new high-pro­file at­tor­ney said Mon­day. Above, at­tor­ney An­drew Bow­man, right, speaks dur­ing Tro­co­nis’ ar­raign­ment on June 3 at state Su­pe­rior Court in Norwalk.

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