UPDATE: Cosmo DiNardo confessed to murdering the four missing young men, according to his lawyer, Paul Lang. “In exchange for that confession, Mr. DiNardo was promised by the district attorney that he will spare his life by not invoking the death penalty,” Lang said, according to the New York Times.
A strange murder case is unfolding near Philadelphia. Authorities announced early Thursday morning that they are continuing to search a suburban farm in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, after discovering human remains belonging to one of four men who went missing last week.
Cosmo DiNardo, the 20-year-old son of the farm’s wealthy owners, was arrested on Wednesday and charged with stealing a car belonging to one of the men and attempting to sell it for $500 last weekend. DiNardo was apprehended after his father paid a portion of a $1 million bond to bail him out of the county jail on an unrelated felony weapons charge. He is currently being held on a $5 million bail for both felony charges, and is a “person of interest” in the disappearances.
Earlier this week, District Justice Maggie Snow called DiNardo “a grave risk given the gravity of what’s going on here right now.” The Bucks County district attorney, Matthew D. Weintraub said detectives bought “a little bit of time charging DiNardo with the stolen car” and were going to “seriously look” at homicide charges. He added that he was classifying the case as a homicide, but “we just don’t know how many homicides,” according to The Washington Post.
Here is what we know so far about DiNardo and the potential of a growing number of victims buried beneath his family farm.
Who is Cosmo DiNardo?
According to a report from NBC Philadelphia, DiNardo comes from a family who earned a fortune in real-estate and concrete and trucking business ventures. His late grandfather, also named Cosmo DiNardo, owned several commercial and residential properties, including a family home in Bensalem Township, where his grandson was arrested. DiNardi’s parents, Antonio and Sandra, own the farm and the on-site home in Solebury Township, about 30 miles away from Philadelphia.
The youngest Dinardo graduated from Bensalem Township-based Holy Ghost Preparatory School in 2015, before briefly pursuing biology studies at Arcadia University. A friend of one of the missing men told The Philadelphia Inquirer that DiNardo sold marijuana and guns and had “spoken about weird things like killing people and having people killed.” The friend, Eric Beitz, 20, said he met DiNardo through a drug deal and they hung out weekly, before his behavior changed after an ATV accident several months ago, where he suffered a head injury. “Something about him just struck me and all my friends, something about him – his behavior was a bit suspicious,” Beitz said. “He’s made a lot of scary insinuations in the weeks leading up to this.”
In February, police arrested DiNardo after finding him with a 20-gauge shotgun he was not allowed to possess since he was previously involuntarily committed to a mental institution. The charges were dismissed, but were refiled on Monday, after the four men went missing.
Earlier this week, prosecutors said that DiNardo is schizophrenic and a “dangerous person.” His defense lawyers claimed that he has been shamed for his mental health issues.
How many victims have been identified so far?
Investigators have recovered the body of 19-year-old Dean Finocchiaro who went missing last Friday evening, but they have not announced whether the other human remains belong to the three other men. Tom Meo, 21, and Mark Sturgis, 22, also vanished that Friday, while Jimi Tar Patrick, 19, went missing this Wednesday, according to The New York Times.
How did authorities find the human remains?
The case has drawn support from the FBI, U.S. Marshals, state investigators and local authorities.
Last Saturday, investigators tracked a signal to one of the missing men’s cell phone to the farm. The next day, police found Meo’s 1996 Nissan Maxima parked on another DiNardo property within a mile of the farm, and Sturgis’s Nissan sedan at a shopping center down the road.
On Monday, police searched DiNardo’s house in Bensalem, about 30 miles from the farm. He was arrested that day on the weapons charge, released on Tuesday, and then arrested again on Wednesday. That afternoon, before investigators found Finocchiaro’s remains, Weintraub told reporters that investigators, who were erecting portable tents and searching the farm using a backhoe, shovels and metal detectors, were “going to find something for sure”on the property. “I cannot really confirm more, but we’ve been utilizing resources that I didn’t even know existed,” Weintraub said.”I’m very encouraged by that, at the least, that we are going to find some finality in this prolonged ordeal.”
It was cadaver dogs that led the authorities to the human remains discovered 12.5 feet underground in a “common grave.”
Did DiNardo have any connection to the victims?
So far, Beitz’s comments provide the most detail in how the men knew each other. Beitz, who was on the wrestling team with Meo at Bensalem High School, said that Meo and Sturgis were friends and co-workers. DiNardo and Patrick went to Holy Ghost together. Patrick just completed his freshman year at Loyola University in Baltimore. DiNardo and Patrick both had interests in ATVs and were linked to a public Facebook page for quad bikes.
Meanwhile, the families of Finnochiaro and the three missing men are keeping a vigil near the farm. As Weintraub tells it: “This is just really, really rough on everybody involved because of the heat, the magnitude, the scope, and the stakes are incredibly high – life and death.”