June 19th, 2024

Woman sentenced to 20 years in prison for conspiring to murder Connecticut mom

By Dave Collins, The Associated Press on May 31, 2024.

STAMFORD, Conn. (AP) – A woman convicted of helping her boyfriend plot and cover up the murder of his estranged wife, Jennifer Dulos, during contentious divorce and child custody proceedings in Connecticut was sentenced to 20 years in prison Friday.

A state judge in Stamford handed down the punishment to Michelle Troconis in the 2019 disappearance of Dulos, whose body has never been found since she disappeared from her New Canaan home.

Troconis, 49, was convicted in March of conspiracy to commit murder, evidence tampering and hindering prosecution. She denies the charges and plans to appeal.

Prosecutors say Dulos’ husband, Fotis Dulos, killed her at her home in New Canaan and drove away with her body, which has never been found. He died by suicide in 2020 shortly after being charged with murder. He had denied killing his wife.

Troconis was living with Fotis Dulos when his wife disappeared. Troconis was convicted in March of conspiracy to commit murder, hindering prosecution and evidence tampering.

Troconis, who is detained in a state prison, maintains her innocence and plans to appeal her conviction.

Jennifer Dulos has not been seen since she dropped her five children off at school on May 24, 2019.

About 80 people packed the courtroom, with Jennifer Dulos’ family and friends on one side and Troconis’ supporters on the other. All five of Dulos’ children, as well as her mother Gloria Farber attended.

Before the sentence was announced, they spoke of their anger and heartbreak.

Farber said she knew “something terrible had happened” when her daughter did not return calls or texts. She said her daughter “only wanted to give and get love and be a loving mother.”

Jennifer Dulos’ oldest child, 18-year-old Petros Dulos, said his mother’s death left him with “a hole inside of me that I know I will never fill.”

He said he had been close to his mother but struggled during the divorce.

“The defendant’s actions mean that I will never be able to tell my mom how sorry I am for not being a better son when she needed me,” he said.

Lauren Almeida, the Dulos family’s nanny, asked Troconis: “Where is she, Michelle?”

Jennifer Dulos’ disappearance was the subject of documentaries and a made-for-TV movie, Lifetime’s “Gone Mom.”

She belonged to a wealthy New York City family. Her father, the late Hilliard Farber, founded the brokerage Hilliard Farber & Co. after running Chase Manhattan Bank’s bond trading desk. She also was a niece by marriage of fashion designer Liz Claiborne.

Troconis, a dual American and Venezuelan citizen, said she co-founded a horse-riding therapy program, had owned a TV production company in Argentina, and hosted a snow-sports show for ESPN South America. Fotis Dulos was a luxury home builder from Greece.

Troconis’ family and friends described her Friday as an upright and caring person.

Her pastor, the Rev. Christopher Solimene of Avon Congregational Church, said Troconis attended Bible study and cooked for the church soup kitchen. “Her heart is big for all of God’s created, especially for children and those afflicted with disability,” Solimene said.

Troconis’ mother, Marisela Arreaza, said her daughter was a loving mother to her teenage daughter and was not the homewrecker portrayed by Dulos’ friends.

“When Michelle met Fotis Dulos, he presented himself as a family-oriented man going through an amicable divorce,” Arreaza said. “Michelle believed Fotis and had no reason to doubt him.”

Troconis’ daughter, Nicole, 17, told Judge Kevin Randolph: “Michelle isn’t just my mother. She’s my best friend, my rock and my guiding light.”

Troconis spoke last, saying: “I am a person of profound faith and I have been praying and continue to pray for those who have suffered and continue to suffer.”

Authorities believe Dulos killed his wife because of his growing frustration with their divorce and child custody proceedings.

Jennifer Dulos had been living with the children in New Canaan while Fotis Dulos stayed in the family’s 10,000-square-feet (929-square-meter) home about 70 miles (115 kilometers) away in Farmington.

Hours after Jennifer Dulos was last seen alive, surveillance video recorded Troconis accompanying Fotis Dulos on a trip to Hartford, where he discarded trash bags from his pickup truck. Police later found some of the bags after seizing Fotis Dulos’ cellphone, checking its location data and obtaining the surveillance video.

At Troconis’ trial, the prosecution and state forensic experts showed a shirt, bra and zip ties with blood-like stains that were found in one of the trash bags. DNA testing linked the items to Jennifer Dulos.

Troconis told police she didn’t know what was in the bags or why Fotis Dulos dumped them.

Prosecutors also said Fotis Dulos left his cellphone at home on the day Jennifer Dulos vanished and Troconis answered a call to it from his friend that morning. They say that shows Troconis was in on the plot and tried to help him create an alibi. She denied the allegation.

Kent Mawhinney, a friend and former lawyer of Fotis Dulos, is awaiting trial on a murder conspiracy charge in Jennifer Dulos’ disappearance. He has pleaded not guilty.

Although Jennifer Dulos’ body has never been found, a probate judge declared her legally dead last year. The Dulos children are in Farber’s custody in New York City.


Associated Press reporter Karen Matthews contributed from New York City.

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