Mystery in a Wealthy Town: She Dropped Off Her Children, Then Went Missing – The New York Times

Last Friday, as she had many times before, Jennifer Dulos dropped her five children off at school.

She left her house in New Canaan, Conn., where she and her family had moved during a turbulent divorce battle with her husband, and drove less than a mile to a private school, the police said.

She has not been seen since.

A week after Ms. Dulos was reported missing, the search for her intensified and expanded across Connecticut, with investigators still trying to determine whether Ms. Dulos, 50, was the victim of foul play.

At the same time, the custody battle between Ms. Dulos and her husband, Fotis Dulos, continued in court, with Mr. Dulos claiming in a filing this week that their five children were being kept under armed guard at their grandmother’s apartment in New York.

On Thursday, The Hartford Courant, citing law enforcement sources, reported that investigators had found traces of blood in Ms. Dulos’s home, leading them to believe she had been a victim of a violent crime.

Lt. Jason Ferraro, a spokesman for the New Canaan Police Department, would not comment on the report, citing the ongoing investigation.

He said that the police had not classified Ms. Dulos’s case as a homicide.

Ms. Dulos’s family and friends said in a statement that they were crushed by her disappearance.

“Those who know Jennifer know her to be a devoted mother; an extremely thoughtful, reliable and organized woman; and attest that she would never, ever, disappear when she is responsible for the lives of five loving and energetic children,” the statement said.

Ms. Dulos was reported missing last Friday night after friends said that she had failed to show up for several appointments that day, officials said.

The police found her car on a street near Waveny Park, a 300-acre plot in New Canaan, an affluent suburban town about 45 miles from Manhattan.

In the days since Ms. Dulos went missing, investigators have combed the park several times for evidence using helicopters, drones and canine units, the police said.

Ms. Dulos’s disappearance came nearly two years after she filed for divorce from Mr. Dulos, 51, according to court records. The couple had been married for 13 years and, until two years ago, lived together in Farmington, Conn., about 70 miles northeast of New Canaan.

The split was bitter and contentious from the start, and Ms. Dulos applied for emergency custody of her children, according to court records.

Ms. Dulos said in court filings that her husband was verbally abusive, according to local news reports. In one affidavit, she told a judge that she worried he might kidnap their five children and take them to Greece, his homeland.

Mr. Dulos did not respond to an email seeking comment. A phone number associated with his home address was not answered, and his voice mail at the company he runs was not accepting new messages.

As the legal battle stretched on, court records show more than 400 filings, many of them specifically about custody and visitation rights, with each parent accusing the other of making threats in front of their children.

Even with Ms. Dulos missing, the legal battle has continued. On Tuesday, Mr. Dulos’s lawyer, Michael Rose, filed a petition seeking to take custody of the couple’s three sons and two daughters.

In a letter to the court, Mr. Rose said the children, who are 8 to 13 years old, had been taken to Ms. Dulos’s mother’s apartment in New York City, where they were being watched by an armed guard.

Ms. Dulos’s mother, Gloria Farber, could not be reached for comment. But in a statement released through a spokesman, Ms. Dulos’s family said: “Please be assured that Jennifer’s five children are safe and well cared for.”

Mr. Rose and a lawyer representing Ms. Dulos, Wayne D. Effron, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

In addition to the divorce proceedings, Mr. Dulos, who runs a company that builds luxury homes, was embroiled in a lawsuit with the estate of Ms. Dulos’s deceased father, Hilliard Farber.

According to a lawsuit filed by Ms. Farber on behalf of the estate, Mr. Farber, who died in 2017, provided loans to Mr. Dulos so he could buy and flip properties through his company, the Fore Group.

Mr. Dulos had failed to pay back $1.7 million in loans, according to court documents.

Richard P. Weinstein, a lawyer for Mr. Farber’s estate, declined to comment.

With Ms. Dulos now missing for a week, the police have widened the area of their search in recent days.

On Friday, in addition to returning to Waveny Park, state police detectives began investigating parts of Hartford, Conn., about 10 miles from Mr. Dulos’s home in Farmington, according to the Connecticut State Police.

One day earlier, investigators had also expanded their search for Ms. Dulos to a home in Pound Ridge, N.Y.

Lieutenant Ferraro would not provide a specific location, but public records showed that Ms. Dulos’s parents own a home in Pound Ridge.

“We’re running a missing persons investigation as well as a criminal investigation at the same time,” Lieutenant Ferraro said. “As those investigations expand and get more involved, obviously we’re looking at different leads.”

Susan Beachy contributed research.