Du­los’ truck seen day wife van­ished

Ve­hi­cle ob­served in New Canaan, but he wasn’t driv­ing

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

NEW CANAAN — A black Ford Rap­tor be­long­ing to Fo­tis Du­los was spot­ted in town the day his es­tranged wife was re­ported miss­ing — but he was not the man be­hind the wheel.

The driver of the ve­hi­cle was an em­ployee of Fo­tis Du­los’ real es­tate devel­op­ment com­pany, the Fore Group, and was work­ing at a New Canaan home on May 24 when Jennifer Du­los dis­ap­peared. Neigh­bors of the Stur­bridge Hill Road home said they were wo­ken up by loud bang­ing sounds com­ing from the prop­erty the day af­ter the dis­ap­pear­ance.

At­tor­ney Lindy Urso, who is rep­re­sent­ing the man whose iden­tity Hearst Connecticu­t Me­dia is with­hold­ing, said

po­lice ques­tioned his client about us­ing the com­pany ve­hi­cle and ruled him out as a sus­pect in the case.

“If my client was us­ing that ve­hi­cle, it was in con­nec­tion with work for sure,” Urso said Thurs­day. “The po­lice have ques­tioned him and he’s been fully co­op­er­a­tive. And they have con­firmed that he’s not a sus­pect.”

Urso said his client vol­un­tar­ily gave his phone to po­lice and he is in the process of getting it back.

“He’s ob­vi­ously not happy about be­ing drawn into this mess, but he’s hop­ing to put it be­hind him and move on,” he said.

Urso said the man no longer works for the Fore Group, which now lists only Fo­tis Du­los as an em­ployee on the com­pany web­site.

Fo­tis Du­los, 51, and his girl­friend, Michelle Tro­co­nis, 44, are both free on bail while charged with tam­per­ing with ev­i­dence and hin­der­ing prose­cu­tion.

Tro­co­nis and her lawyer have met with in­ves­ti­ga­tors at least twice since she posted bail on June 3, in­clud­ing visit­ing the Jef­fer­son Cross­ing prop­erty she shared with Fo­tis Du­los.

Norm Pat­tis, the high-pro­file and con­tro­ver­sial at­tor­ney hired last week to rep­re­sent Fo­tis Du­los, told a Connecticu­t ra­dio sta­tion on Thurs­day that Tro­co­nis has passed a poly­graph test and has an alibi for the day Jennifer Du­los dis­ap­peared.

“My un­der­stand­ing is the re­sult of her speak­ing to the po­lice has ruled her out as a par­tic­i­pant in any foul play in New Canaan,” Pat­tis told WPLR’s Chaz and AJ. “And my un­der­stand­ing is she’s taken a poly­graph exam on the ques­tion of whether she had any knowl­edge of any foul play or dis­posal of ev­i­dence, and she’s sat­is­fied po­lice in that poly­graph exam and she pro­vided an alibi.”

Pat­tis said Tro­co­nis’ co­op­er­a­tion has helped Fo­tis Du­los.

“I think she’s not given them any­thing of value,” he said. “What she’s given us is tremen­dous things of value and that is she wasn’t aware of any foul play.”

A mes­sage seek­ing com­ment was left with Tro­co­nis’ lawyer Thurs­day.

Hours af­ter the Ford Rap­tor was seen in New Canaan, po­lice said security video cap­tured Fo­tis Du­los and Tro­co­nis in the truck in Hart­ford.

Around the time Jennifer Du­los was re­ported miss­ing, Fo­tis Du­los was seen throw­ing garbage bags into more than 30 trash bins in a four-mile span in Hart­ford about 7:15 p.m. on May 24, ac­cord­ing to ar­rest war­rants.

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.

Mem­bers of the State Po­lice search-an­dres­cue team have been us­ing dogs trained to de­tect hu­man re­mains to search a Hart­ford garbage dump for bags that had al­ready been hauled away.

Af­ter spend­ing 10 nights at the Bridge­port Cor­rec­tional Cen­ter, Fo­tis Du­los was re­leased Tues­day when he paid $37,150 for a $500,000 bond and turned 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.

Since Fo­tis Du­los has been re­leased on bail and is back home, the me­dia has been clam­or­ing this week to cover his every move — from the gro­cery store, to a morn­ing jog and a visit to a Hart­ford pro­ba­tion of­fice.

The me­dia re­mains perched each day at the cor­ner of the pri­vate road Fo­tis Du­los built and where he lives.

Fore Group built the Jef­fer­son Cross­ing devel­op­ment of seven homes on lots rang­ing from 1.7 to 2.5 acres. The homes are val­ued at $1.4 mil­lion to as much as $5.25 mil­lion.

Farm­ing­ton po­lice Lt. Pa­trick Buck­ley said the depart­ment has in­creased pa­trols in the neigh­bor­hood be­cause Jef­fer­son Cross­ing res­i­dents have been con­cerned about tres­passers on the pri­vate road. A lawyer rep­re­sent­ing the home­own­ers’ as­so­ci­a­tion sent a let­ter to news or­ga­ni­za­tions warn­ing them to keep out of the neigh­bor­hood.

Fo­tis Du­los’ neigh­bors have not re­sponded to mes­sages seek­ing com­ment or have de­clined to com­ment on the case and me­dia at­ten­tion sur­round­ing it. Res­i­dents of the sur­round­ing neigh­bor­hood — dot­ted with spa­cious homes on large, lush prop­er­ties — have also been ret­i­cent.

Fo­tis Du­los owns 4 Jef­fer­son Cross­ing, where he has been liv­ing with Tro­co­nis and her daugh­ter. Jennifer Du­los moved out of the house with her five chil­dren when she filed for di­vorce in 2017 and the prop­erty was soon put up for sale.

Two years later, the more than 13,000square-foot man­sion re­mains on the mar­ket for $4.4 mil­lion.

The at­ten­tion the house has gained in re­cent weeks has been a dou­ble-edged sword, ac­cord­ing to Rob Gi­uf­fria, manag­ing bro­ker for the West Hart­ford-based Tea Leaf Realty that is list­ing the home.

One one hand, buy­ers could be turned off by the con­nec­tion to the case and the sor­did details that have been pub­li­cized, he said.

“But there is also an ar­gu­ment that the house is getting wider exposure,” he said.

The big­gest challenge, Gi­uf­fria said, is not re­lated to Jennifer Du­los’ dis­ap­pear­ance or the crim­i­nal charges pend­ing against her hus­band. The ask­ing price for the home is just too much, he said.

“The mar­ket for $2 mil­lion homes has been soft in the past few years,” he said. “But maybe the no­to­ri­ety will help.”

The prop­erty, as well as oth­ers de­vel­oped by 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 there is 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.

On Wed­nes­day, the Connecticu­t State Po­lice dive team searched a pond on Old Farms Road in Avon, where Jennifer Du­los claimed in di­vorce doc­u­ments her hus­band pushed their chil­dren to “dan­ger­ous” limits while try­ing to mold them into world-class wa­ter skiers.

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