SOLEBURY, Pennsylvania—Twenty-year-old Cosmo DiNardo admitted to his “participation in murders of four young men” Thursday in a case that began as a Bucks County missing persons investigation and ultimately led police to discover a 12-foot common grave full of human remains.
In exchange for DiNardo’s confession, the district attorney will not seek the death penalty. DiNardo is being charged with four counts of criminal homicide, plus conspiracy and abuse of a corpse. Twenty-year-old Sean Kratz was also taken into custody on Friday as a possible accomplice to DiNardo.
Some of the remains discovered on DiNardo’s family farm on July 12 belong to Dean Finocchiaro, 19—one of the four men, including Mark Sturgis, 22, Thomas Meo, 21, and Jimi Tar Patrick, 19, all of whom were reported missing on July 9. The rest of the remains have not yet been identified.
Police knew months earlier that DiNardo illegally owned a 20-gauge shotgun while having been involuntarily committed for mental health reasons—but he wasn’t arrested until July 10 after the four men suddenly vanished. A neighbor reported hearing four rounds of shotgun firings July 8 in the area of the DiNardo farm, though police have not confirmed if these shots are connected to the investigation.
The DiNardo family’s $5.4 million farm is expansive: His family bought three adjacent properties in 2008. While the family lives in Bensalem, northeast of Philadelphia, their weekend farm is located in the tony borough of New Hope. The family’s roots in the area run deep, and their wealth is well-known—when the district attorney set DiNardo’s bail at $1 million cash, DiNardo’s family promptly paid it and he was released. He was arrested again on July 12, this time with a bail set at $5 million cash, and DiNardo remains in Bucks County Jail.
At the DiNardo property in Solebury, untamed plants line the unadorned single-lane road past the area where white police tents were gathered. The site stands out from posh neighboring farms, where a few 300-plus-year-old thick stone houses sat behind gates with oil-painted signs out front displaying whimsical names and pictures of horses announcing their spreads. In recent years, the bucolic Bucks County area has filled up with move-up developments for aspirational families, relocating to the county for the top-ranked public schools and an easy commute to Big Pharma’s major facilities in New Jersey and even Wall Streeters who hack a far longer daily bus or train ride.
At evening rush-hour Thursday, lines of cars slowly moved past the main Route 202 artery past the murder scene, where TV satellite trucks were perched to deliver news of every parent’s worst nightmare. Inside the perimeter, family members of the still-missing men kept quiet vigil, even as smartphones blared with weather-service alerts of tornados two counties away.
Just down the hill, along the Delaware River, the normally bustling summer tourist town of New Hope was largely empty, with outdoor cafes and sidewalks missing their usual hordes of day-trippers out for a stroll through art galleries or a bit of locally made ice cream. Dairy Queens and Rita’s water-ice stands normally jammed with kids were nearly silent. The oppressive humidity, 90-plus-degree heat, and distant rumbles of thunder and dark storm clouds loomed over the tense scene, too, as shopkeepers and residents—and investigators—longed for something to break.
The district attorney’s office said they consider DiNardo a “flight risk” and worried the DiNardo family would be able to again pay his bail. He was enrolled at Arcadia University before dropping out in 2016, is an avid hunter, and his friends—who describe him as unstable and lonely—report he was involved in the drug scene in suburban Philadelphia.
Days before the grave was found, a friend messaged DiNardo to ask about Finocchiaro’s disappearance. DiNardo replied, “I mean I know the kid but yeah I feel bad for his parents. He’s a pill-popping junky who had 2 duis… He prob just jumped parole Or probation.” Finocchiaro currently has assault and harassment cases open in Bucks County Court and was charged with use or possession of drug paraphernalia.
Though the farm where the remains were found belongs to Antonio and Sandra DiNardo, they have not been named persons of interest by the district attorney, and the family’s lawyer said they are being “100 percent cooperative.”
—with additional reporting by Erin Friar in Solebury, Pennsylvania