Search for Jen­nifer Du­los turns to Avon pond

The News-Times - - FRONT PAGE - By Ethan Fry, Lisa Backus and Jim Shay

AVON — The search for Jen­nifer Du­los turned Wed­nes­day to a pond where she claimed in di­vorce doc­u­ments that her es­tranged hus­band pushed their chil­dren to “dan­ger­ous” limits in com­pet­i­tive wa­ter ski­ing.

New Canaan Po­lice Lt. Ja­son Fer­raro said the Connecticu­t State Po­lice dive team searched a pond on Old Farms Road in Avon, while con­tin­u­ing to sift through trash at a Hart­ford dump re­lated to Jen­nifer Du­los’ dis­ap­pear­ance.

In di­vorce doc­u­ments, Jen­nifer Du­los de­scribed her hus­band’s affin­ity for wa­ter ski­ing as an “ob­ses­sion.” She said he in­sisted on their chil­dren train

ing to be world-class wa­ter skiers, and had them on a strict reg­i­men that she be­lieved was “dan­ger­ous and ex­ces­sive” and would some­times last all day.

Be­fore re­mov­ing his Face­book page, Fo­tis Du­los posted nu­mer­ous pho­tos of him­self on the wa­ter.

“The chil­dren have told me that they do not want to wa­ter ski at this level,” Jen­nifer Du­los said in the di­vorce doc­u­ments.

“They are phys­i­cally and emo­tion­ally ex­hausted and have begged me to do some­thing about it. We are all ter­ri­fied to dis­obey my hus­band.”

She said Fo­tis Du­los once threw a ski against a rock and broke it when the chil­dren re­fused to train, ac­cord­ing to the di­vorce doc­u­ments.

The body of wa­ter known lo­cally as The Pond is tucked be­hind the Avon Self Stor­age fa­cil­ity on Old Farms Road.

The sud­den at­ten­tion to the town of less than 20,000 has quickly cre­ated a buzz.

“Day-to-day stuff is nor­mal, (ev­ery­body’s) just kind of try­ing to fig­ure out what they did with her,” Avon res­i­dent Michel Daoud said. “Ev­ery­body’s talk­ing about it.”

The pond is lo­cated about six miles from Fo­tis Du­los’ home on Jefferson Cross­ing in Farm­ing­ton.

The pri­vate en­clave loaded with mul­ti­mil­lion dol­lar homes has been dis­rupted for weeks since one of its res­i­dents — and the de­vel­oper of the prop­er­ties — has been sus­pected of Jen­nifer Du­los’ dis­ap­pear­ance.

The chaos con­tin­ued Tues­day evening when Fo­tis Du­los re­turned home af­ter post­ing bail.

But since re­turn­ing home, Fo­tis Du­los hasn’t shied from the at­ten­tion.

One TV crew fol­lowed him into an Avon gro­cery store, but he walked past them with­out re­spond­ing to the reporter’s ques­tions.

On Wed­nes­day morn­ing, Fo­tis Du­los was seen out for a jog in the neigh­bor­hood and then cam­eras fol­lowed him into Hart­ford where he had a pro­ba­tion hear­ing to out­line the con­di­tions of his re­lease.

Farm­ing­ton po­lice Lt. Patrick Buck­ley said the depart­ment has in­creased pa­trols in the neigh­bor­hood only be­cause Jefferson Cross­ing res­i­dents have been con­cerned about tres­passers on the pri­vate road.

Af­ter spend­ing 10 nights at the Bridgeport Cor­rec­tional Cen­ter since his ar­rest, Fo­tis Du­los was re­leased late Tues­day af­ter­noon af­ter pay­ing $37,150 for a $500,000 bond and turn­ing in his pass­ports.

Fo­tis Du­los is re­quired to wear an elec­tronic GPS mon­i­tor­ing de­vice, is pro­hib­ited from con­tact­ing his five chil­dren or mem­bers of Jen­nifer Du­los’ fam­ily. He also can­not leave the state with­out permission.

Fo­tis Du­los, 51, and his girl­friend, Michelle Tro­co­nis, 44, are both free on bail while charged with tam­per­ing with ev­i­dence and hin­der­ing pros­e­cu­tion in the dis­ap­pear­ance of Jen­nifer Du­los, who was last seen on May 24.

Tro­co­nis and her daugh­ter had been liv­ing with Fo­tis Du­los at 4 Jefferson Cross­ing af­ter Jen­nifer Du­los left with her chil­dren when she filed for di­vorce in 2017.

The prop­erty, as well as oth­ers de­vel­oped by Fo­tis Du­los’ cus­tom home­build­ing com­pany, the Fore Group, have been a fo­cus of nu­mer­ous searches in re­cent weeks.

In­ves­ti­ga­tors were seen leav­ing the prop­erty with two boxes of ev­i­dence on June 5 af­ter ex­e­cut­ing an emer­gency search war­rant.

The search came hours af­ter in­ves­ti­ga­tors combed through a metal dump­ster out­side a New Canaan home also be­ing de­vel­oped by the Fore Group. Neigh­bors of that home said they were wo­ken up by the loud sounds of metal bang­ing com­ing from the prop­erty in the predawn hours the morn­ing af­ter Jen­nifer Du­los went miss­ing.

State’s At­tor­ney Richard Colan­gelo an­nounced Tues­day the find­ing of new ev­i­dence that he said shows Fo­tis Du­los’ DNA was dis­cov­ered mixed with his es­tranged wife’s blood on the faucet of a kitchen sink in her home. A judge, how­ever, de­nied Colan­gelo’s re­quest to in­crease Fo­tis Du­los’ bond based on the new ev­i­dence.

Mem­bers of the state po­lice search-and-res­cue team have been us­ing dogs trained to de­tect hu­man re­mains to search a Hart­ford garbage dump.

Ac­cord­ing to ar­rest war­rants, Fo­tis Du­los was seen on video throw­ing garbage bags into more than 30 trash re­cep­ta­cles in a four­mile span in Hart­ford the night his es­tranged wife dis­ap­peared. Po­lice said Tro­co­nis was seen in the pas­sen­ger seat and both of their cell­phones placed them in the area at that time.

Garbage bags that were re­cov­ered con­tained Jen­nifer Du­los’ blood, the war­rants said. Po­lice have since been search­ing the dump for bags that had al­ready been hauled away.

New Canaan po­lice said Wed­nes­day they have re­ceived about 475 tips that have come in from around the world. They have also re­ceived 80 se­cu­rity videos from res­i­dents and business own­ers.

But so far, none of it as led to Jen­nifer Du­los, whose fam­ily and friends re­main “in limbo” about what hap­pened to the mother of five.

“As the news cy­cle pro­pels the story of Jen­nifer’s dis­ap­pear­ance for­ward, we must not lose sight of the enor­mous hu­man cost of this tragedy: five young chil­dren have not seen their mother in 18 days,” fam­ily and friends said in a state­ment re­leased Tues­day. “Jen­nifer is the con­stant pres­ence in their lives. She has sole phys­i­cal custody and has de­voted her full en­er­gies to their care and hap­pi­ness.

“Jen­nifer’s fam­ily, friends, and above all her chil­dren are liv­ing in limbo — miss­ing her em­brace, her lilt­ing laugh, her bed­time back rubs, her gen­tle strength. 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.”

Du­los

Ethan Fry / Hearst Connecticu­t Me­dia

State po­lice dive teams search a pond in Avon on Wed­nes­day as part of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion into Jen­nifer Du­los’ dis­ap­pear­ance.

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