What to Know
- Fotis Dulos, accused in the murder of his estranged wife, died two days after being found in his Farmington home on Jan. 28
- Jennifer Dulos, a mother of five from suburban Connecticut, vanished in late May after dropping her children off at school
- Fotis Dulos was previously arrested on murder and other charges; his ex-girlfriend is charged with conspiracy
Fotis Dulos, the husband accused of murdering his long-missing wife, was declared dead at a New York City hospital two days after being found in medical distress at his Connecticut home, his attorney said.
During a press conference outside Jacobi Hospital in the Bronx Thursday evening, Norm Pattis said Dulos died at 5:32 p.m.
"As for those who contend that Mr. Dulos' death reflects a consciousness of guilt — we say no," Pattis sid. "We say it was more a conscious overborne with the weight of a world that was too busy to listen, and it wanted a story more than it wanted the truth."
His relatives want his name be cleared of the charges, and his legal team filed a motion in Connecticut court to substitute an estate for Fotis Dulos in for the defendant, which would serve as a means to continue the trial.
After what he called a "truly horrific" day for the family, Pattis said the motion was done to "force the state to show its hand in a trial filled with evidence we think that amounts to no more than innuendo and unsupported suspicion," while admitting that it may be difficult to convince the state to go forward with the trial. Despite that, Pattis told NBC New York that they "remain committed to demonstrating he did not murder Jennifer,” whose body has never been found.
"Having maligned the man for all time from coast to coast ... we're asking for the right to clear his name," Pattis said, hoping to "vindicate" Dulos.
"We're not bitter, and we're not accusing anybody of having driven him to his death, but we wonder why in the court of public opinion, the presumption of innocence was so quickly satisfied," Pattis said. In a later statement to NBC New York, Pattis said Dulos "was tried and convicted in the court of public opinion. Now he has been executed."
Pattis said the family, who had just traveled in from Greece, will have his organs donated "so that will live on in some form, in the assistance that he can provide to others in their own individual struggles."
A statement from Carrie Luft, on behalf of the family and friends of Jennifer Dulos, called it a "horrific tragedy all around," while asking for privacy for the family and loved ones involved.
In addition to Dulos' death, Pattis said he had "been told by reliable sources there was a note left on the seat of Fotis' car saying he was innocent." Pattis filed a motion on Thursday that the purported note and any other evidence found at the home be preserved as evidence.
According to the filing, the note was found as police were investigating Dulos' suicide attempt at his Farmington home on Tuesday. The next day, police in Connecticut executed a search warrant at the home.
The Western District Major Crimes unit obtained the warrant for the Jefferson Crossing home, the town's police said on Twitter. It was not immediately clear what police were searching for in the home, or why the search warrant was executed after Dulos' attempted suicide. It also wasn't clear what, if anything, was recovered from the home as of Thursday.
Connecticut State Police issued a brief statement Thursday afternoon saying the search warrant had been sealed by the court.
Sources told NBC New York that a potential battle may be brewing over the Farmington house where Dulos was found. The family of Jennifer Dulos claims they have an interest in the property, sources said.
Dulos was found unresponsive in his garage, apparently from carbon monoxide poisoning, when he failed to appear for an emergency bond hearing in Connecticut Tuesday. That bond hearing was called over issues related to the security of his collateral. Pattis said the potential for a bond revocation was devastating news to his client but "not once did it ever occur to me that he might be a risk of suicide."
Dulos' attorneys were back in court for a bond hearing on Wednesday afternoon. During the bond hearing, it was determined that a new bonding company would look into compiling a new $6 million bail package since a foreclosed property pulled the initial bonding company off the hook.
Both parties agreed that when and if Dulos does get better, he will be rearrested and extradited back to Connecticut. His family will be allowed to visit him in the Bronx hospital in the meantime. "There are guards posted" outside his room, Pattis said, even though Dulos is not in New York custody.
Dulos has been under house arrest since he was cuffed earlier this month on murder and other charges in the disappearance of his wife Jennifer. She vanished in May; no body has been found.
Pattis, who said he was away in Washington, D.C., when Dulos tried to take his own life, refused to speculate why his client may have tried to end it. Pattis said he had previous clients attempt suicide and he always wondered what he could have done better.
"I feel that I let him down, that he trusted me to be his good shepherd through the valley of the shadow of death and perhaps he reached out and I didn't hear what he needed, and I feel a sense of responsibility for his welfare," Pattis told NBC News.
Meanwhile, police declined to say Tuesday if they found any indications, such as a note, that would suggest it was a suicide attempt, saying the investigation was "too early" to conclude that.
Fotis Dulos' civil attorney, Rich Rochlin, also said he was shocked by his client attempting to take his own life.
"It's sad to see that somebody you spend so much time with who is always fighting for his kids and someone who maintained his innocence decided that the pain was too great and that's a hard thing to process, frankly,” Rochlin said.
Carrie Luft, a spokesperson for Jennifer Dulos' family and friends, declined to comment on the situation.
Meanwhile, people who live in the Fairfield County town where Jennifer Dulos lived and is believed to have been murdered were shocked at the latest development — with many saying the suicide attempt convinced them more than ever that he may be guilty.
"Could be guilt. Maybe he had something to do with it. I don’t think you act like that if you don’t have a guilty conscience," Deshawn Richardson said.
Another New Canann resident said it "proves he doesn't has his conscience very clear. "
In a message to the people who speculated the reason for Dulos' attempted suicide, Pattis said, "If they made up their minds before seeing the evidence ... then shame on you."
The 52-year-old father was arrested on murder and kidnapping charges Jan. 7 in connection with what authorities say was the killing of Jennifer Dulos, who hasn't been seen since she dropped her children off at school on May 24. Authorities cited circumstantial evidence, including DNA testing and surveillance camera footage, in arrest warrants. He has denied any involvement in her disappearance or death.
Police allege Fotis Dulos lay in wait at Jennifer Dulos' home in New Canaan for her to return after dropping the children off at school. Authorities say Fotis Dulos attacked the woman in her garage, leaving behind a bloody crime scene, and drove off with her body, which has not been found.
Dulos' former girlfriend, Michelle Troconis, was charged with conspiracy to commit murder. She is also under the same house arrest and GPS monitoring conditions. Also facing that charge: Dulos' friend, attorney Kent Mawhinney. Police said they helped Fotis Dulos try to cover up the killing, including by creating bogus alibis.