A long-sleeve, striped shirt shown in a Connecticut courtroom this week had turned nearly one solid colour after being soaked in what appeared to be blood, jurors in Michelle Troconis’s murder conspiracy trial heard.
The Vineyard Vines-brand shirt is believed to be what Jennifer Dulos was wearing on 24 May 2019, the day she vanished and was allegedly murdered. Her body has never been found.
Grim evidence presented on Tuesday, which included the shirt and blood-soaked bra – both of which had been cut down the middle – was “brutal but also crucial,” according to her close friend Carrie Luft, who provided a statement on behalf of her family.
State Police Sgt Kevin Duggan testified that the items were pulled from trash bins in Hartford where, according to prosecutors, surveillance video shows Ms Troconis sitting in a black Ford Raptor truck while Jennifer Dulos’s estranged husband Fotis Dulos tossed the bags just hours after Jennifer disappeared.
Among the items recovered by law enforcement were zip ties, two blood-soaked plastic ponchos, a broken mop handle, as well as a white t-shirt with blood-like stains.
Police said the bags contained Jennifer’s DNA, and one of them had Ms Troconis’s DNA on it.
As Supervisory Assistant State’s Attorney Michelle Manning carefully held up each item to show the jurors, Jennifer’s loved ones were visibly shaken, the CT Insider reported. Her close friend Ms Luft had her head in her hands and two others wiped away tears.
Prosecutors then asked Sgt Duggan to describe the shirt, and he pointed out the lettering that read, “EDSFTG.”
“It’s a Vineyard Vines slogan, ‘Every day should feel this good,’” Sgt Duggan explained.
It was at that point Ms Luft let out an audible exhalation, according to the CT Insider.
“For Jennifer’s family and loved ones, seeing the physical evidence on Tuesday was brutal but also crucial,” the statement from Ms Luft said.
“Witnessing Jennifer’s blood-soaked clothing, knowing that was the shirt, the bra, she wore on the last day of her life, made us imagine, again, what she must have endured on May 24, 2019. We hope that seeing this evidence in three dimensions can put an end to any suggestion that Jennifer is ‘missing.’ She died a tragic death, and her loss is felt beyond what words can express.”
“We are grateful to the prosecution and the investigators for their meticulous collection and presentation of evidence in this case,” the statement continued.
“Above all, we trust in justice, and we hope that this trial will help provide answers to, and accountability for, what was done to Jennifer that day.”
At the time of her disappearance in May 2019, Jennifer was in the midst of a bitter divorce and custody battle with her estranged husband. Investigators believe Fotis Dulos killed her in the garage of her home and that Ms Troconis, Fotis’s then-girlfriend, helped him cover up the murder.
In January 2020, Fotis Dulos died by suicide after being charged with her murder.
Ms Troconis insists she did not know Fotis was doing anything nefarious as she watched him toss garbage bags into random bins, or as she helped him write up a timeline of their whereabouts on the day his estranged wife disappeared.
She has pleaded not guilty to conspiracy to murder, tampering with evidence and hindering prosecution. Her trial is expected to last until March.