Two Cousins Charged in Grisly Pennsylvania Murders
A missing persons case in Pennsylvania took a shocking turn on Friday afternoon when the Bucks County district attorney Matthew D. Weintraub charged 20-year-old cousins with killing four men, burning their bodies and burying them on a family farm in Solebury Township.
Officials from Bucks County, in a press release, said Cosmo DiNardo, of Bensalem, and Sean Kratz, of northeast Philadelphia, were charged with “the July 7th slayings” of Dean Finocchiaro, 19; Thomas Meo, 21; and Mark Sturgis, 22. DiNardo was additionally charged with killing Jimi Taro Patrick, 19, two days earlier.
DiNardo and Kratz are scheduled for arraignment Friday afternoon.
The murder case has gripped national media attention after the men disappeared last week and cadaver dogs led investigators to recover the human remains of Finocchiaro in a 12.5-foot-deep “common grave” on Wednesday on the farm in Solebury, about 30 miles north of Philadelphia. On Friday, Weintraub told reporters at a news conference that the three other men had been positively identified and that Kratz was in on their deaths.
Why did DiNardo and Kratz kill the men? “I’m not sure I could ever answer that question,” Weintraub said, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.
On Thursday, DiNardo broke silence and confessed to selling the four men marijuana, before killing them on the farm, according to the Associated Press. DiNardo’s attorney, Paul Lang, told reporters that “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,” according to the New York Times.
On Friday, Weintraub said he took the offer to secure Patrick’s location in an isolated single grave “up on top of a mountain,” according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. “I can tell you, for I’ve been there, we’d still be looking for Jimi Patrick had we not made this agreement.”
As DiNardo told investigators, he picked up Patrick at his home on July 5th and drove him to the farm with the intention of selling him four pounds of marijuana for $8,000, according to a probable cause affidavit. When Patrick said he only had $800, DiNardo offered to sell him a shotgun instead, before walking him to “a remote part of the property” and shooting him with a .22 caliber rifle. DiNardo led police to finding Patrick’s body in a hole he dug with a backhoe less than 6-feet deep.
DiNardo said that he also picked up Kratz, “whom he described as his cousin,” and drove to Finocchiaro’s home on July 7th, to sell him $700 worth of marijuana. He gave Kratz a .357 handgun belonging to his mother, drove the three to the farm, and witnessed Kratz shoot Finocchiaro in the head as they were leaving an on-site barn. (Kratz told investigators similar accounts, but said it was DiNardo who shot Finocchiaro). DiNardo said he grabbed the weapon and shot Finocchiaro a second time while he lay on the ground.
DiNardo then met Meo and Sturgis for a drug “deal” at a church parking lot near the property, he said. He drove the men to the farm and shot Meo in the back with the .357 handgun and shot Sturgis several times as he attempted to run. He then “ran over Meo with the backhoe,” before using it to dump the bodies into a metal tank where they would join Finnocchiaro. The next day, DiNardo and Kratz used the backhoe to dig the deeper hole and bury the tank.
After his confession, a handcuffed DiNardo was wearing an orange jumpsuit and being led into a police van when reporters asked him whether he had anything to say to the victims’ families. “I’m sorry,” he said, according to the AP video.
Authorities have painted DiNardo as a troubled figure. The Bensalem Police Department director Frederick Harran told the New York Times that DiNardo has had 30 “contacts” with them over the past six years and had been involuntarily committed to a mental hospital last summer. He was also banned from Arcadia University’s campus last year after dropping out.
In February, police arrested DiNardo, after finding him with a 20-gauge shotgun and ammunition he was not allowed to possess since he was involuntarily institutionalized. Bensalem Public Safety Director Fred Harran said the charges were dismissed because the mental health paperwork was improperly filed. Earlier this week, a prosecutor said that DiNardo is schizophrenic and a “dangerous person.”
In the end, DiNardo gave up Kratz as part of his confession. DiNardo was in custody when investigators apprehended Kratz, who has a pair of pending burglary cases in Philadelphia, at his home.