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Women fighting for ‘Justice for Jennifer’ come out in force at Michelle Troconis trial

 (Justice for Jennifer Dulos/Facebook/Supplied)
(Justice for Jennifer Dulos/Facebook/Supplied)

As spectators packed a Connecticut courtroom for closing arguments in the Michelle Troconis murder conspiracy trial this week, there was a noticeable common theme – many of them wore purple.

Some wore purple hats or scarves while others were fully decked out in the colour. It was intentional, they said: it was all for Jennifer.

For 27 days, the court heard dramatic testimony about how mother-of-five Jennifer Dulos, 50,  was allegedly killed in 2019 by her estranged husband Fotis Dulos amid a contentious divorce and custody battle. After being charged with her murder, he died by suicide in 2020, leaving his girlfriend Michelle Troconis to take the fall.

On Friday, the jury found Ms Troconis guilty of conspiring with Fotis to kill Jennifer and cover up the crime.

She was convicted on all six counts of conspiracy to commit murder, hindering prosecution, tampering with physical evidence, and conspiracy to commit tampering with physical evidence.

She is scheduled for sentencing on May 31, and could face up to 50 years in prison.

Since the trial began, family and friends of Jennifer, along with supporters who had never even met her, had been wearing purple ribbons and clothing in court to raise awareness for domestic violence.

Many of the supporters are members of “Justice For Jennifer Dulos,” a Facebook page that started over four years ago, and has since grown to more than 1,000 members.

On Tuesday, they packed the courtroom and overflow room at Stamford Superior Courthouse in Connecticut for closing arguments.

“If there were room for 1100 of us in the courtroom, we would have all been there everyday,” Shell Meador, one of the Facebook admins told The Independent.

Many of the supporters who showed up in court are members of ‘Justice For Jennifer’ Facebook page (Justice for Jennifer/Facebook)
Many of the supporters who showed up in court are members of ‘Justice For Jennifer’ Facebook page (Justice for Jennifer/Facebook)

Ms Meador explained that the admin team is a group of personal friends, many of whom were brought together by their individual experiences of having a loved one be murdered.

“For most people especially Connecticut moms, Jennifer’s story brought an awareness of wow...things like this do happen here,” Ms Meador said, “And the family court system in CT is broken in ways that are hurting children, hurting families.”

Creating an online community gave them a chance to share their stories and advocate for Jennifer — and heal from some of their own pain.

“For me, it’s always been about creating a safe, respectful place to raise awareness of a missing person, follow and discuss case facts of a justice journey,” Ms Meador said.

Jennifer Dulos has been missing since 24 May 2019 (New Canaan Police Department)
Jennifer Dulos has been missing since 24 May 2019 (New Canaan Police Department)

Caroline Rutenberg, who grew up in Farmington, close to where Fotis and Jennifer lived, another admin of the Facebook group has also helped out with searches.

She was in high school in 2019 when Jennifer disappeared.

“It was the first time I heard of ‘domestic violence,’” she told The Independent.

“Jennifer’s story touched my heart and seeing all the people that came out to support yesterday wearing purple brought me to tears,” she said of the dozens of women who showed up for closing arguments on Tuesday.

“I wore a purple ribbon around my neck that was the same ribbon we used at the memorial our group created honoring Jennifer,” she added.

The memorial was set up in February 2020 in West Hartford, near a reservoir that was heavily searched when Jennifer went missing after dropping her five children off at school. The Facebook group members keep it adorned with banners, candles, notes, painted rocks, lights, signs and flowers. They plan to spruce it up after the trial is over.

The memorial was set up in February 2020 in West Hartford (Justice for Jennifer Facebook page)
The memorial was set up in February 2020 in West Hartford (Justice for Jennifer Facebook page)
Now: The memorial has been tended to for years and is overflowing with love for Jennifer (Justice for Jennifer Facebook page)
Now: The memorial has been tended to for years and is overflowing with love for Jennifer (Justice for Jennifer Facebook page)

On Tuesday during closing arguments, another admin, Tracey, wore a purple ribbon around her waist.

“It’s the only purple I had,” she said, as she tugged gently on the frayed  ribbon. “But it’s perfect because it’s from her memorial – feels like she’s here with us.”

Tracey never met Jennifer but felt a pull to her and has been attending trial nearly every day.

Maybe it was that they were around the same age, or maybe it was because she lived on the Upper East Side just a few blocks from Jennifer Dulos’ mother, Gloria Farber. But ever since Jennifer disappeared on 24 May 2019, Tracey has been heavily invested in the case.

“I really thought for a long time, we must have crossed paths,” she told the CT Insider at the start of the trial. “The more I learned about the circumstances...it pulled me in. I felt for her.”

Tracey has said that she has felt likes she has become, in a way, a “representative of the people who are not friends or family who just deeply care about answers and accountability.”

Tracey, along with other members of the Justice group, spent many hours walking the woods in Farmington and West Hartford when Jennifer first went missing in the hope of finding something.

Jennifer Dulos' mother, Gloria Farber, testifies during Michelle Troconis' trial (Hearst Connecticut Media)
Jennifer Dulos' mother, Gloria Farber, testifies during Michelle Troconis' trial (Hearst Connecticut Media)

The women said the group was never intended to be for opinions and theories about the crime, but instead think of it as a group of friends who all want Justice for Jennifer.

Another woman who was at the courthouse on Tuesday shared with The Independent that she joined the group because she was looking for other women in the community to connect with, to go hiking and running with in a safe environment.

“Unlike many true crime groups, most of our members are local to Connecticut. We created a bubble to protect them,” Ms Meador explained. “After almost five years together tenaciously fact finding and keeping our group updated none of us will ever be the same.”

And every year on or around 24 May, some of the members gather to mark the anniversary of Jennifer’s disappearance.

“We’re a tight knit group of justice seekers,” Ms Rutenberg said.