Missing Penn. Men Confirmed Dead After Man Confesses to Murders
July 13—A week of mystery and building anguish appeared to culminate in tragedy Thursday when Cosmo DiNardo confessed to the killings of the four young men from Bucks and Montgomery County who vanished last week.
DiNardo's lawyer emerged after a late-afternoon meeting with investigators in Doylestown and said the 20-year-old Bensalem man had confessed to the "participation or commission" of the killings and told the district attorney where the four bodies were.
In return, lawyer Paul Lang said, prosecutors had pledged not to seek the death penalty. He gave no motive for the killings.
The Associated Press, citing a source with knowledge of the confession, reported late Thursday that DiNardo told authorities he killed the men separately after selling them marijuana and then burnt their bodies at his family's farm in Solebury Township.
The person, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to publicly discuss details of the case, also said a co-conspirator was involved in the shooting deaths of three of the men.
Bucks County District Attorney Matthew D. Weintraub was expected to discuss the case during a 9:30 news conference but abruptly canceled it in a tweet at 8:34 p.m., said it had not yet confirmed the information he hoped to share.
"The District Attorney has no response at this time to statements of defense counsel regarding person of interest Cosmo Dinardo," said a second tweet.
But the office reported Weintraub expects to share new information at an 11 a.m. Friday news briefing near the Solebury Township farmland where investigators said they found human remains buried in a 12-foot-deep grave on Wednesday.
The confession marked a shocking twist in a case that rocked the Philadelphia region and beyond.
The massive search for the men was set off Sunday, bringing FBI agents, U.S. Marshals, state and local officers to the scene to dig with great care, around the clock, in merciless heat.
Late Wednesday, Weintraub confirmed investigators on the site found remains of Dean R. Finocchiaro, 19, of Middletown, who disappeared Friday. The others missing are Thomas Meo, 21, of Plumstead; Mark R. Sturgis, 22, of Pennsburg; and Jimi Taro Patrick, 19, of Newtown. All appeared to have some connection to DiNardo.
Around 8:30 p.m. Thursday, a steady rain fell over the DiNardo property as law enforcement continued to search for the remains of the three other men. Officials from the FBI and American Red Cross, as well as local first responders, continued to come in and out of the main driveway on Lower York Road.
"We negotiated this outcome for Cosmo to be very honest, forthright and truthful in what occurred within the last week and a half," Lang said. DiNardo "did give a full confession and he was very forthright and gave all relevant details that he could." He also told the district attorney where the four bodies were.
With the four men missing for days and throngs of investigators digging at the vast DiNardo property as the families kept vigil at the site, scrutiny on DiNardo—who has not been charged in connection with the killings but was named Monday as a person of interest—had sharpened over the course of the week. His confession came about 24 hours after he was jailed for a second time this week, on charges of stealing the car of one of the missing men.
DiNardo had previously been committed to a mental health facility; had had contact with local police several times since 2011; and had been banned from Arcadia University's campus after attending one semester there, according to various sources.
The background belied his apparent civic service. In 2015 and 2016, the younger DiNardo was appointed to Bensalem Township's Drug and Alcohol Advisory Board, records show. The city's mayor appoints members of the board and they are approved by the township council, according to the township website.
The search for the missing men has centered at DiNardo's parents' property in wealthy Solebury Township, where investigators combed 90 acres for clues and remains. In the end, Weintraub said, it was cadaver dogs which alerted searchers to the remains in the deep mass grave.
As to whether DiNardo's parents were involved, Lang said: "I'll leave that for their attorney... As far as I know, no." There were reports the parents had been called Thursday to a grand jury investigation at the same courthouse where their son would later admit to killing the men.
Lang said he would not say what DiNardo's motive was out of respect for the families involved. "That'll come out in time," he said.
DiNardo was led out of court Thursday evening in handcuffs and wearing an orange prison jumpsuit and leg shackles. News footage showed him saying "I'm sorry" as reporters asked what he would say to the families of the men he confessed to killing.
Tina Finocchiaro, an aunt of Dean Finocchiaro, wrote on Facebook Thursday morning: "I don't have many words today I am completely crushed heartbroken and numb I lost my nephew to a crime that is unspeakable nobody should have to go through this my heart goes out to his parents and all of the other parents and I also want to thank reached out to us and prayed for for us [sic]." She later shared a news report about the confession.
DiNardo had been named a person of interest in the case and jailed on $5 million bail, charged with stealing Meo's car. The car was found Sunday on a property belonging to the DiNardo family, and police said DiNardo had tried to resell it for $500.
At his arraignment Wednesday, prosecutors said he was a "dangerous person."
DiNardo had been arrested Monday, on a refiled weapons charge that had been dismissed in late May. Because he had previously been involuntarily committed for mental health treatment, DiNardo was prohibited from possessing firearms under Pennsylvania law—but he had a Savage Arms 20-gauge shotgun and ammunition when he was arrested in February, according to court documents.
The charge was dismissed because the mental-health paperwork was filed improperly, Bensalem Public Safety Director Fred Harran told The Inquirer and Daily News on Thursday. It had to be corrected before the district attorney could authorize the charges to be filed again. The D.A. did so on June 21, but DiNardo was not arrested until after the search for the missing men had already begun. Weintraub has said the timing was "out of our control."