NEW CANAAN, Conn. — The search of a Hartford trash facility continued Saturday as police look for evidence in the disappearance of New Canaan mother Jennifer Farber Dulos, now missing for over two weeks.
A day earlier, state police detectives brought Michelle Troconis, the girlfriend of Dulos’ estranged husband, back to the Farmington mansion she was sharing with Fotis Dulos. Investigators spent time rummaging through the vast woods behind the home.
For the last two years, Fotis Dulos and Jennifer Farber Dulos have been locked in a bitter divorce and a battle for the custody of the couple’s five children, who are now living in New York City.
As one group of state police detectives continued to sift through garbage bins in Hartford looking for clues into her disappearance Friday, another team arrived at 4 Jefferson Crossing, along with a car with Troconis in the passenger seat and her attorney Andrew Bowman driving. Sources said police walked through the house with them and also searched briefly in the woods behind the house.
There is a large wooded area behind the Jefferson Crossing development that leads to a popular walking trail. It didn’t appear that any dogs were brought to search the woods.
Fotis Dulos and Troconis are due to appear June 11 in Superior Court in Stamford. They are both facing charges of hindering prosecution and tampering with evidence. Troconis is free on $500,000 bond while Dulos remains in custody with bail set at the same amount.
Fotis Dulos remained jailed Saturday at the Bridgeport Correctional Center, held in lieu of $500,000 bail. He faces charges of hindering prosecution and tampering with evidence. Troconis is facing the same charges, although she posted bail after her arraignment Monday in Norwalk Superior Court.
Also this week, the Dulos’ five children returned briefly to the private school in New Canaan that their mother dropped them off at on May 24 before she drove away and disappeared. The children have been living with their grandmother Gloria Farber in her New York City apartment under armed guard since the day their mother was reported missing.
Police have spent most of this week systematically searching, and in some cases re-searching, properties affiliated with The Fore Group, Fotis Dulos’ home building company. They’ve searched a house on Sturbridge Hill Road in New Canaan and several properties in New Canaan. As of Friday night, they had not found Jennifer Dulos.
Troconis met with Stamford State’s Attorney Richard Colangelo and state police detectives on Thursday at Bowman’s law offices. It was unclear why they brought her to Farmington on Friday.
The charges against Troconis and Fotis Dulos stem from video evidence captured by Hartford police that shows a man resembling Fotis Dulos dumping as many as 30 garbage bags into trash bins and dumpsters along Albany Avenue at 7:15 p.m. on the day that Jennifer Dulos disappeared, court records said. A woman resembling Troconis at one point is seen on video sitting in the passenger seat as Dulos throws out the bags.
State police recovered some of those bags before they were picked up and taken to the Materials Innovation and Recycling Authority’s trash-to-energy plant in Hartford’s South Meadows. Since last week’s garbage pickup was delayed by one day because of Memorial Day, most of the trash from the Albany Avenue area had not been incinerated.
It’s time-consuming sorting through the decaying refuse, according to sources familiar with the process. Motorized equipment is being used to skim manageable portions from the surface of the trash pile to an open area of the floor. A cadaver dog sniffs through it under the watch of his handler and other police personnel, who pick through the material.
There are so many intermingling smells that each new section is gone through twice, with two different dogs — the second dog in effect checking the work of the first. Sources said part of the problem is the dogs are trained to “hit” on decomposing flesh and they have encountered dead animals and rotten food that detectives have had to then shift through.
What makes the job even more difficult is that the refuse isn’t in the same form as when it was first thrown into a trash can or dumpster. By the time the police inquired with the trash authority as where the North End garbage could be found in the receiving area of the trash-to-energy plant, it had already been sent through a mechanized shredder that cut it into pieces no larger than six inches across to prepare it for burning.
The changed form and reduced size of the pieces of garbage make it hard to identify what something is visually. That’s where the dogs and their keen sense of smell come in. It’s already taken longer than originally expected but state police are expected to continue the search into next week.
At Jennifer Dulos’ Welles Lane home, New Canaan police remain on the scene. The family has hired a private security guard, who is sitting in his car in front of the house. New Canaan and state police searched the house two weeks ago, when Jennifer Dulos was reported missing, and found blood and said in court documents that someone had appeared to try to clean it up.
Several of the neighbors on Welles Lane have posted no trespassing signs on their property.
At Waveny Park in New Canaan, where police have conducted numerous searches, there were only dog walkers and runners on Friday. People in town are taking about the case and hungry for information, said one man walking his dog. Others asked reporters if there were any developments in the case.
Another dog walker said she hopes that whatever happens, Jennifer Dulos’ children would have some finality and know that their mother did not simply vanish. A sign asking people to contact police with information about the case still stands at the park entrance.
The same state police now searching the MIRA plant were at the park searching for evidence related to the case over multiple days in the week after Jennifer Dulos disappeared. Sources said they are expected to return to search the park more at some point.
Jennifer Dulos’ black Chevy Suburban was found on Lapham Road, just outside the park, hours after she was reported missing.