Search Finished at Hartford Trash Facility in Connection With Missing Mom Jennifer Dulos Case
The investigation continues into the disappearance of Jennifer Dulos, a 50-year-old mother from New Canaan, but police said Tuesday morning that their search of a Hartford trash facility for evidence is finished.
Jennifer's husband, Fotis Dulos, and his girlfriend, Michelle Troconis, have both been charged with tampering with evidence and hindering prosecution in connection with her disappearance a month ago and pleaded not guilty.
Jennifer was last seen on May 24 and police are still referring to her case as a missing person's case.
On Monday, Fotis Dulos' lawyer claimed that Jennifer may have staged her disappearance like a character in the book "Gone Girl," citing a "very dark 500-page plus novel" that she had written.
That prompted a spokesperson for Jennifer's family, Carrie Luft, to dismiss the claim as "false and irresponsible allegations," saying that Jennifer's novel was written well before "Gone Girl" and was not a mystery tome.
"Trying to tie Jennifer’s absence to a book she wrote more than 17 years ago makes no sense. Evidence shows that Jennifer was the victim of a violent attack in her New Canaan home," the statement said. "As of today, she has been missing for a month. This is not fiction or a movie. This is real life, as experienced every single day by Jennifer’s five young children, her family, and her friends."
Investigators have spent the better part of the last month searching for clues related to Jennifer's disappearance. As of Tuesday morning, New Canaan police have received more than 950 tips and nearly 80 responses to a request for video surveillance in town.
State police provided video of them searching inside of the Materials Innovation and Recycling Authority trash facility in Hartford. In the video, you can see investigators combing through piles of garbage using rakes, shovels and other tools, including heavy equipment.
A source told NBC Connecticut that troopers were specifically looking for evidence that might have been picked up by a garbage truck and shredded inside the facility days after Jennifer disappeared.
The search at MIRA ended around 7:30 p.m. Monday, according to police.
While that part of the search is over, police said this is a "very active and dynamic investigation" involving dozens of investigators who are committed to finding Jennifer.
City surveillance cameras captured a man police said matched the appearance of Jennifer's estranged husband Fotis throwing away bags of garbage along Albany Avenue in Hartford the day Jennifer disappeared.
Court documents say authorities have found a kitchen sponge and clothes soaked in Jennifer's blood.
Jennifer's family and friends paid tribute to her in another statement on Friday. It reads in part:
“Many people have asked for more details about Jennifer, as a person, a mom, a friend. Jennifer is brilliant and creative—she graduated with honors from Brown University and earned an MFA in writing from NYU. As a teen, she was a nationally ranked junior squash player,” Luft said.
“Much more important, Jennifer is a deeply genuine person, compassionate and trustworthy. She is also subtly hilarious. She loves silly movies as much as she loves great literature. An avid traveler, she delights in learning about other people and has imbued her five children with this love of discovery. She cares about her children more than anything in the world.”
Jennifer, who moved from Farmington to New Canaan after filing for divorce, was last seen while dropping off her children at school in New Canaan on Friday, May 24. Since Jennifer disappeared, her children have been living with her mother.
Fotis Dulos’ attorney, Norm Pattis, said his client is presumed innocent and should not be kept from those he loves, including his children and his girlfriend.
"We filed a motion this afternoon to clarify whether existing court orders permit him to have contact with Ms. Troconis, and I have filed my appearance in his family case where we will seek visitation with, and custody of, the children," Pattis said Monday. “We have learned that Ms. Troconis believes in his innocence, and loves him still. We see no reason why the two of them should not be free to live as they see fit."
Dulos was reported missing after she missed several appointments and her friends became concerned when they could not reach her.
As the search continues, police have dedicated a website, FindJenniferDulos.com, and an email address, FindJenniferDulos@newcanaanct.gov, to the investigation. Police have also set up a tipline, 203-594-3544.