Nanny testifies Jennifer Dulos feared Fotis Dulos; alternate juror dismissed at Troconis trial
The jury got some personal insight into Jennifer Dulos’ life Wednesday as a majority of testimony in Michelle Troconis’ trial came from the prosecution’s first non-law enforcement witness. Lauren Almeida, the nanny for Jennifer Dulos’ five children, returned to the stand, where she spoke about the contentious relationship between Jennifer Dulos and Fotis Dulos, along with the incidents leading up to Jennifer Dulos’ disappearance and presumed death almost five years ago.
Almeida picked up where she left off on Tuesday—a family vacation to Miami in March 2017 where Almeida met Michelle Troconis for the first time at a waterskiing club. Almeida said Fotis Dulos introduced Troconis as his friend, but it was clear the oldest Dulos children had spent time with her before.
“When we got there, they were calling her ‘Michi,’ and they hugged her, so like they already knew her,” Almeida said, adding that Jennifer Dulos was not at the club and never crossed paths with Troconis during that vacation. She also testified that Jennifer Dulos ended up flying back a few days early after her mother, who was with them, slipped at the pool and broke her ankle.
On the stand, Almeida said Troconis was “friendly.” Assistant State’s Attorney Sean McGuiness asked what language Almeida spoke to her in. The response was English, with Almeida saying Troconis had no problem understanding her. Troconis’ first language is Spanish, and her attorney tried to get her police interviews thrown out due to her not having an interpreter. The alleged language barrier Troconis faced during questioning will likely be part of the defense’s case later in the trial.
Almeida testified she and the Dulos children flew back from Miami without Fotis Dulos, who decided to extend his trip. Almeida said on Tuesday that he traveled a lot without his family, which she found odd.
Almeida recalled how when she returned, Jennifer Dulos told her she had proof Fotis Dulos was having an affair—emails and receipts from a trip Fotis Dulos took to Utah with Troconis, along with a friend and that friend’s girlfriend. Almeida described Jennifer Dulos as “softspoken” and “sad” during that conversation and said she planned to confront Fotis Dulos.
Almeida detailed how the next day, Jennifer Dulos confided in her that she’d confronted her husband and he’d admitted the affair.
“She was going to try and have this be as civil as possible because—she opened up more saying she was no longer in love with Fotis, but she wanted, she had five kids, so they were going to try and work out what they could,” Almeida stated.
But that attempt quickly failed, Almeida told the jury, with constant arguments.
“It started to become very tense and uncomfortable being in the presence of both of them,” Almeida explained.
Almeida recalled an instance in April 2017 where she saw Fotis Dulos chase his wife in the backyard.
“She looked scared and worried,” said Almeida. “He looked angry.”
Almeida detailed another fight when she heard Fotis Dulos yelling and then Jennifer Dulos ran into the room she was in.
“She closed the door behind her and pushed her body up against the door, and he was trying to get in. And I mean, her face was just—she was terrified,” Almeida recalled.
Almeida explained how Jennifer Dulos began to secretly move items out the Farmington home the couple shared and recruited Almeida to help take things Fotis Dulos wouldn’t notice. Almeida said it was because, “she was afraid of what Fotis would do to her or with the kids if she filed for divorce while they were living under the same roof.”
Almeida testified that on the day Jennifer Dulos and the children did move, in June 2017, she lied to Fotis Dulos about where they were going, spent the night at a New York City hotel they’d never stayed in before and hired an armed bodyguard. That was almost two years before Jennifer Dulos disappeared. The divorce and custody battle were still ongoing at that time with Fotis Dulos having supervised visitation with the five kids.
One of those visits was two days before Jennifer Dulos was last seen. Almeida said Jennifer Dulos locked all the doors “because she did not want him entering the house at all.”
Almeida then recounted what happened on May 24, 2019, after Jennifer Dulos dropped her kids off at school in New Canaan. From there, Dulos was headed to New York for an appointment and had arranged for Almeida to pick the kids and bring them to Gloria Farber’s apartment in New York City, Almeida testified. She said the plan was for Jennifer Dulos to meet them at her mother’s place ad then the kids to an orthodontist appointment in the city.
Almeida said she arrived at 69 Welles Lane around 11 a.m. and right away noticed some strange things. One was that Jennifer Dulos’ Range Rover was still in the garage while her Chevy Suburban was gone. Almeida testified Jennifer Dulos had told her she was taking the Range Rover because the Suburban was too big to park in the city.
Almeida said she also noticed Jennifer Dulos’ handbag was between the mudroom and kitchen and on the floor—something she normally didn’t leave her bag. Another thing Almeida testified about was the paper towel roll was empty.
“So went in the pantry to go grab another one and noticed that there were only two rolls of paper towels left, which was odd to me because the night before I’d just put 12 rolls in there,” Almeida told the jury.
Before Almeida and the kids left for Farber’s apartment, she texted Jennifer Dulos. That text and the ones that followed that day were pulled up on the screen in court by the prosecution. None was ever answered.
Almeida testified Jennifer Dulos didn’t make it to her mom’s place to take the kids to their appointment, and Almeida got even more concerned when she called Jennifer Dulos.
“My stomach just sank cause she never not answered her phone,” Almeida recalled.
It was Almeida and another friend who contacted New Canaan police.
“We told the police that a mother of five was missing and that she was in a very contentious divorce,” Almeida explained.
Police believe Fotis Dulos killed his estranged wife in her garage, then tried to clean up before disposing of her body.
During Almeida’s testimony, the prosecution pulled up pictures of the crime scene. She testified that a shelf in the garage was missing two camping pillows and a cleaning bucket—items that she recalled because she’d just reorganized the shelves earlier in the week.
Almeida’s testimony was put on hold for a bit in the afternoon after an alternate juror had to be questioned and was ultimately dismissed by Judge Kevin Randolph. The juror told Randolph he said, “Ok but we love you,” to prosecutors after they declined to get into the elevator with him, another alternate, and a marshal. Randolph said that comment could be interpreted as his feelings towards the state’s case and said it impaired the defense’s ability to have a fair and impartial jury. The dismissal brings the total number of alternate jurors to four, along with six regular jurors.
Jennifer Dulos has never been found but is presumed dead. Fotis Dulos died by suicide in January 2020 shortly after he was arrested on charges including kidnapping and murder.
Troconis was Fotis Dulos’ girlfriend and living with him in Farmington when Jennifer Dulos vanished. Troconis is accused of plotting with Fotis Dulos to kill his estranged wife, then helping him try to hide the crime. Troconis has pleaded not guilty to charges of conspiracy to commit murder, evidence tampering, conspiracy to evidence tamper, and hindering prosecution.
She’s the first of the remaining defendants in the case to go on trial. Kent Mawhinney, Fotis Dulos’ friend and former attorney, was also charged with conspiracy to commit murder and has pleaded not guilty.
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