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Fotis Dulos, charged in estranged wife's murder, dies after suicide attempt

"To those who contend that Mr. Dulos death reflects a conscious of guilt, we say no. We say it was more of a conscious overworn with the weight of the world that was too busy to listen," his attorney said.

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/ Source: NBC News
By Elisha Fieldstadt

Fotis Dulos, the real estate developer charged with murdering his estranged wife, died at a New York City hospital after attempting suicide at his Connecticut home on Tuesday, his attorney said.

Dulos, 52, was arrested and charged earlier this month with capital murder, murder and kidnapping in connection with the disappearance of his wife, Jennifer Dulos, who vanished in May and whose body has never been found.

The couple, who had five children together, was in a contentious and drawn-out divorce and custody battle.

Fotis Dulos' girlfriend, Michelle Troconis, and his close friend, Connecticut lawyer Kent Mawhinney, were charged the same day as him with conspiracy to commit murder.

"It's been a truly horrific day for the family filed with difficult decisions, medical tests and meeting the requirements to determine death," Norm Pattis, Dulos' family attorney, said on Thursday. "Having said that we want to thank everybody for their interest. And, as to those who contend that Mr. Dulos death reflects a conscious of guilt, we say no. We say it was more of a conscious overworn with the weight of the world that was too busy to listen and that wanted a story more than it wanted the truth."

Fotis Dulos stands during a hearing at Stamford Superior Court on June 11, 2019, in Stamford, Connecticut.Erik Trautmann / AP

Fotis Dulos' girlfriend, Michelle Troconis, and his close friend, Connecticut lawyer Kent Mawhinney, were charged the same day as him with conspiracy to commit murder.

Dulos attempted suicide at his home in Farmington, where he was on house arrest, on Jan. 28 after getting word that he was due at an emergency court hearing to address a discrepancy on the $6 million bond he had posted.

He was flown from a Connecticut hospital to one in New York, where he received oxygen therapy in a hyperbaric chamber. He was in "dire" condition, his lawyer, Norm Pattis, said.

The attorney said "the potential for a bond revocation was devastating news" to Dulos prior to his suicide attempt.

Jennifer Dulos was last seen on May 24 after dropping her children off at school. Fotis Dulos and Troconis were first arrested in early June and again in September in connection with her disappearance. They pleaded not guilty to various charges.

Despite police saying they had evidence that proved Fotis was "lying in wait" at Jennifer's home the day she disappeared, he told NBC's "Dateline" in September that he did not have anything to do with his wife's disappearance and he believed she was still alive.

Jennifer Dulos in an undated photo.Courtesy Family

But investigators, in multiple arrest warrants, laid out the evidence against Dulos. They said his DNA was found mingled with Jennifer's in bags full of items, like zip-ties, gloves, cleaning supplies and clothes, that he was caught stuffing into trash bins in Hartford, with Troconis, after Jennifer went missing.

Dulos' DNA was also found in Jennifer's home, along with her blood, court documents said.

Dulos had also borrowed an employee's truck the day Jennifer went missing, and when he returned it — professionally cleaned — he told the employee to replace the front seats. The employee did not. He gave the seats to investigators, who linked a blood-like substance on the passenger seat to Jennifer Dulos' DNA.

Troconis admitted in August that she went with Fotis Dulos to have the employee's truck washed and detailed, the arrest warrants said.

When police asked her why she thought her boyfriend took his employee's truck for the $250 service, she replied, "Well obviously ... all the evidence says because ... you showed me the picture of the blood in the door, it’s because the body of Jennifer at some point was in there.”

She also said she had been lying when she previously said during interviews with police that she was with Fotis Dulos on the morning of May 24. She admitted that she did not in fact know where he had been.

Her initial claim that she was with him that morning was found on the “alibi scripts” in Fotis Dulos' home. Troconis admitted that she and Fotis Dulos had prepared the notes to account for their actions on the day Jennifer Dulos went missing.

Troconis, in her first interview with police, stuck to the notes "nearly verbatim," but started to admit that she had lied after police presented her with evidence during subsequent interviews.

The family's nanny, Lauren Almeida, also proved to be an asset to investigators.

She told police that Dulos never entered Jennifer Dulos' home during a May 22, 2019, visit with the children, removing his excuse for why his DNA was found in the house.

Almeida said that when she went to the house on May 24, she found Jennifer's handbag on the floor, and an uneaten granola bar and a cup of tea on the counter.

She also noticed that the paper towel roll was empty, and when she went to replace it, found that 10 rolls in the 12-pack she had put in the pantry the night before were gone.

"I sat there and wondered what had happened last night that they used 10 rolls of towels," she told police.

Jennifer wasn't responding to her calls and texts, and "my first thought was that Fotis did something," Almeida told investigators. She said Jennifer had once told her that Fotis had tried to run her over with a car.

In interviews with the media, Dulos denied knowing what happened to Jennifer, and mostly focused on how much he missed and loved his children, who are in the custody of Jennifer's mother, Gloria Farber.

But Dulos never "showed any concern about the fact that Jennifer was missing," Almeida told police.

If you or someone you know is in crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255, text HOME to 741741 or visit SpeakingOfSuicide.com/resources for additional resources.