For eight months most television evening newscasts and newspaper front pages in Connecticut have highlighted the disappearance of Jennifer Dulos and the suspicion cast on her estranged husband, Fotis. Now Fotis has killed himself and Jennifer remains missing and presumed dead and her body may never be found. Yet the TV newscasts and the newspapers are still full of them. Why?
In the last few days it has been because of the jostling by relatives over the couple’s mansion in Farmington. The couple’s general estates may be contested as well, not just by relatives but also by bondsmen and even Fotis Dulos’ lawyer, Norm Pattis, who imagines the state prosecuting Fotis’ estate for murder to oblige the lawyer’s wish to clear his late client’s name - or maybe just to keep the lawyer’s meter running.
It is hard to see how news organization should consider Connecticut so interested in probate details that are not only without relevance to anything that matters but also without the horror, heartbreak, and prurience that sustained attention to the Dulos case for so long.
While the substantial wealth of the Duloses may have made the case more interesting, Connecticut remains horrifyingly full of domestic violence among people of all economic classes and ethnicities. Several such cases lately have involved illegal immigrants who should have been deported long before they killed their girlfriends or romantic rivals. News organizations pay little attention to seemingly ordinary domestic violence cases, though any of these cases might have more relevance to how Connecticut and the country operate than who ends up with the Dulos mansion.
For racial and economic class integration, Connecticut needs more inexpensive housing in its suburbs. Rising housing prices may seem great for those who already own their homes but they are bad for society generally, since housing is as much a necessity of life as food and electricity. Rising housing prices are less a sign of prosperity than of worsening economic inequality.
But government’s sometimes awful operation of inexpensive housing is often why suburbs want no part of it, as the New Haven Independent inadvertently demonstrated the other day.
The newspaper told how city police officers had gone to a public housing project and bravely subdued a mentally ill man who threatened his wife with a knife and then brandished it at the officers, daring them to kill him. The police could have shot him but managed to disarm him short of that. He was taken by ambulance to a hospital.
It turned out that the man had caused a similar incident with a knife elsewhere in the city last year. In that one it took an hour for the cops to persuade him to put the knife down.
Since the state no longer operates institutions of confinement for the chronically mentally ill, except for those who have already killed someone, people like the chronic case in New Haven increasingly are placed not just in public housing projects and other subsidized units but also in projects meant for the frail elderly. So advocates of putting more such inexpensive housing in the suburbs should explain why anyone should want to live near chronic cases state government fails to handle properly.
One of the heroic cops in New Haven said he hoped that the mentally ill guy would get “the help he needs.” It sounds wonderfully humane but that mentally ill guy is a chronic case precisely because “the help he needs” doesn’t exist. The help society and his neighbors in New Haven need is protection from him. He’ll be back soon.
Chris Powell is a columnist for the Journal Inquirer in Manchester, Connecticut.