Authorities in Connecticut are intensifying their search for a missing mother of five who hasn't been seen in nearly a week, according to police and multiple reports.
Jennifer Dulos, 50, was last seen on Friday in New Canaan driving a 2017 black Chevrolet Suburban, police say. Her SUV has since been found near a Connecticut park. State Police are assisting New Canaan authorities in the investigation, officials say, with a drone and K-9 units being deployed to search for Dulos.
According to the Stamford Advocate, Dulos was in the midst of a longstanding custody battle with her husband of 13 years, from whom she filed for divorce in 2017. A hearing in the case had been scheduled for Wednesday morning. The Advocate reports Dulos and her husband had a temporary shared custody agreement pending the finalization of their divorce. Their children range in age from 8 to 13, the paper reported.
According to court documents obtained by NBC, Dulos said she was "afraid" of her husband. "I know that filing for divorce, and filing this motion will enrage him," she's quoted as saying in a 2017 custody filing. "I know he will retaliate by trying to harm me in some way."
Her husband denied all those allegations. On Tuesday, his lawyer filed an emergency order for custody of the children.
The children were brought to live with Dulos' family in Manhattan, according to court documents, and attorneys claimed they needed an armed guard for protection.
Dulos had planned to move to New York's Pound Ridge with her children while her husband stayed at their home in Farmington, Connecticut, the Advocate said. Dulos had left the Farmington home in 2017 and taken her kids to a rental home in New Canaan, according to the Advocate.
“We’re heartbroken and very concerned, but we are just hoping fervently for her safe return,” said family spokesperson Carrie Luft.
Police received a missing person report Friday, just shy of 7 p.m., when friends indicated they had not heard from Dulos for about 10 hours and that she missed several appointments during the day. According to police, the last time one of her friends had contact with Dulos was earlier that day after Dulos dropped her children off at school.
Police subsequently checked Dulos' residence after she was reported missing. A short time later, police say, Dulos' Chevrolet Suburban was located on Palham Road near Waveny Park, but she was not inside the vehicle. K-9 units checked the surrounding area for Dulos but were unsuccessful, police say, adding that a drone is also being used to assist in the search.
According to authorities, the investigation is being treated as a missing person case, but as with any missing person case, a criminal investigation is being conducted concurrently to determine if Dulos was the victim of foul play or intentional harm.
Authorities urge anyone who had contact with Dulos or has information regarding her disappearance to call the New Canaan Police Tip Line at 203-594-3544.