By Talia Kaplan
Published June 11, 2019
Fotis Dulos, estranged husband of a Connecticut mother of five, Jennifer Dulos, who's been missing for more than two weeks, posted $500,000 bail on Tuesday in a criminal case tied to her disappearance.
After officials confiscated his passport and fitted Dulos with a location-monitoring device, he walked out of a Connecticut courthouse. He was still wearing an orange prison jumpsuit after having spent more than a week behind bars at the Bridgeport Correctional Center because he'd been unable to make bail.
He refused to answer questions as he left the courthouse.
Fotis Dulos' attorney, Norm Pattis, argued Tuesday that his client's $500,000 bail should be reduced to $100,000. He said the state's case against Dulos was weak, and expressed doubt that his client would ever be charged with murder.
State's Attorney Richard Colangelo revealed at a court hearing on Tuesday that Fotis Dulos' DNA was found mixed with his wife's blood on a kitchen faucet in the New Canaan home she lived in after they separated. He disclosed the evidence to challenge the request to lower bail. Colangelo argued that bond should be raised to $850,000, but the judge kept it at $500,000.
Pattis said his client posted bail using his retirement fund as collateral. After the hearing, Pattis said he believed his client would be "fully exonerated," adding that he has an alibi. He said that the state "picked this fight and we will win it."
Fotis Dulos' next court hearing is set for Aug. 2.
A hearing in the divorce and child custody case was also held on Tuesday before Dulos posted bail. He declined to answer questions during the hearing, citing his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.
Dulos is under orders not to have contact with the children, who range in age from 8 to 13, while free on bail. A judge did not rule on the custody of the children on Tuesday. They have been staying in New York City with Jennifer Dulos' mother, Gloria Farber, who has been granted temporary custody.
Anne Dranginis, Farber’s attorney, said that arrangement was in the best interest of the children during this "horrendous time in their lives."
Michael Meehan, the children's court-appointed guardian, took the stand at the custody hearing and said he spoke with Fotis Dulos the day after his estranged wife disappeared to inquire about an alibi. Dulos indicated he was home the previous day and had meetings in the afternoon, Meehan said.
When asked if he had concerns with the children having contact with their father, Meehan said, "At this point I do."
Fotis Dulos' live-in girlfriend, Michelle Troconis, also pleaded not guilty before Judge John Blawie to hindering prosecution and tampering with evidence on Tuesday. She posted $500,000 bail last week.
Her next court date is July 18.
Following the brief hearing, her attorney Andrew Bowman, lashed out at the media for what he called "unfair and inaccurate" reporting and said that his client is innocent.
Earlier, Pattis told Fox News there are "powerful reasons" to doubt his client was at his wife's New Canaan home the day she disappeared.
Authorities said Troconis wasn't in New Canaan the day Jennifer Dulos went missing, according to The Hartford Courant. Troconis told police she has no idea where Dulos could have been, the paper also reported.
Police obtained a search warrant for her now-confiscated telephone.
Jennifer Dulos, 50, was last seen on May 24, when she dropped her children off at their private school in New Canaan.
The case has received national attention and the search for Dulos -- entering its 18th day -- has stretched from Connecticut to neighboring New York.
Monday marked the sixth consecutive day investigators combed through a trash facility in Hartford. They started last Tuesday, painstakingly searching the football field-size area looking for Dulos. At times, they have brought in cadaver dogs to assist but so far their search has come up empty.
Citing surveillance video and cellphone location evidence, authorities accuse Fotis Dulos and Troconis of dumping clothing, sponges and other items that contained Jennifer Dulos' blood at multiple locations in Hartford, including the trash facility. Police have said the people in the surveillance video fit the description of Fotis Dulos and Troconis.
Pattis said Tuesday that police haven't identified the license plate of the vehicle seen on video in Hartford when the items were discarded.
When asked why Fotis Dulos' DNA was found mixed with Jennifer Dulos' blood, Pattis said he did not know.
"He was in the house. Do you know where your DNA is?" he asked a reporter.
Pattis added: "I would ask everyone to put aside the easy narrative here that an angry ex-spouse took matters into his own hands to resolve a custody dispute. That didn't happen. Having said that, I don't know what happened."
In arrest warrants, police wrote that blood spatter and evidence of cleanup attempts were also found at the missing mother’s home.
The bad blood between the former couple escalated in the weeks leading up to Jennifer Dulos’ disappearance. Their divorce and custody battle had become increasingly bitter and divisive. According to court documents, more than 400 motions were filed. Jennifer and Fotis Dulos accused each other of ignoring court orders and threatened to hurt one another in front of their five children. There were also threats to kill one another and at times, even the children.
Following Fotis Dulos' June 3 arrest, an investigation into his background by Fox News revealed a complicated man who kept up appearances as a successful businessman for years when in fact he was drowning in debt. He got his business Fore Group Inc. off the ground with financial support from his father-in-law, who between 2004 and 2016, fronted him nearly $10 million. The funds were largely cut off in 2017, around the same time his marriage to Jennifer Dulos was ending.
After Jennifer Dulos' father, Hilliard Farber, passed away in 2017, her mother, now the executor of her husband's estate, sued Fotis Dulos for $500,000 in January 2018. Court documents claimed the Farbers loaned Fotis Dulos the money in 2012 and that he had promised to pay them back but hadn't done so by June 2017.
While Fotis Dulos has been behind bars, Troconis was spotted on Thursday meeting with detectives at her lawyer Andrew Bowman's Westport office. A day later she was spotted with investigators at the Farmington home she lived in with Dulos. While it's not known whether Troconis made a deal with prosecutors, NBC Connecticut's drone footage showed people searching the yard and the wooded area behind the 10,000 square-foot home.
“The towns of New Canaan, Farmington and Avon have responded to Jennifer’s disappearance with a steady stream of love,” Jennifer Dulos’ friend Carrie Luft said on Tuesday in a statement on behalf of her family and friends. “These gestures of empathy and kinship have helped keep us going.”
“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,” Luft wrote.
“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.”
Luft asked anyone with information about Jennifer’s disappearance to contact police, pointing to the newly launched website - www.FindJenniferDulos.com - and a dedicated e-mail FindJenniferDulos@newcanaanct.gov.
Luft also thanked the forces of the New Canaan and Connecticut State Police “for their ongoing and exhaustive efforts to locate Jennifer.”
“Thank you also to every single person who has called in a tip,” she added. “Keep the information coming. Please help us find Jennifer.”
Fox News’ Maria Paronich, Tamara Gitt, Lissa Kaplan, Barnini Chakraborty and The Associated Press contributed to this report.