How Bucks slaying search, confessions and charges unfolded

A law enforcement official escorts Cosmo DiNardo to a vehicle Thursday, July 13, 2017, in Doylestown, Pa. Lawyer Paul Lang, a defense attorney for DiNardo, said Thursday that his client has admitted killing the four men who went missing last week and told authorities the location of the bodies. Lang says prosecutors agreed to take the death penalty off the table in return for DiNardo's cooperation.

Developments unfolded at a feverish pace Thursday and Friday in the slayings of four young men from Bucks and Montgomery counties.

In Court

Friday afternoon, dozens of reporters waited inside a large meeting room at the Bucks County Administration Building in downtown Doylestown. TV crews from local stations and national networks formed a wall of cameras focused on the podium where Weintraub was set to provide his first public updates on the case in more than 24 hours.

Both men were arraigned by video around 3 p.m. before Judge Maggie Snow.  They were denied bail and sent to separate prisons pending a July 31 preliminary hearing.

Confession leads to bodies, evidence, accomplice

Just before 1 p.m., Bucks County prosecutors filed charges against Cosmo DiNardo and his cousin, Sean Kratz.

The charges against DiNardo include four counts each of homicide, robbery, abuse of corpse and conspiracy, court records show. Kratz is charged similarly in three of the killings.

In affidavits from the Bucks County prosecutor’s office and a press conference Friday afternoon, District Attorney Matthew Weintraub described the harrowing slayings of the four men and the feverish hunt for their bodies.

According to court documents, both DiNardo and Kratz gave statements to police corroborating the slayings.  All four men were shot — one on July 5 and three on July 7th. DiNardo said he tried to burn the three bodies, putting them in a metal tank he referred to as the “pig roaster,” pouring gas into it and lighting a fire. He then buried the tank using a backhoe in a 12-foot hole.  The first body was buried in a separate grave, only 6 feet deep.

Weintraub said the bodies would not have been found if not for DiNardo’s confession as part of a plea deal praised by legal experts.  Prosecutors agreed not to seek the death penalty against DiNardo.

 

Confessions

District Attorney Matthew D. Weintraub said in a news conference Friday that DiNardo’s confession enabled them to corroborate details and charge Sean Kratz, find all four bodies and secure two weapons used in murders.

DiNardo also told police that his 20-year-old cousin Sean Kratz, helped him in the slaying and burial of three of the men.  Kratz was taken into custody in Northeast Philadelphia late Thursday, and on Friday officers swarmed a house on Susquehanna Avenue in Ambler in search of evidence.  When he was taken into custody, Kratz was out on bail for separate charges, with two pending burglary cases in Philadelphia courts.

Weintraub said the investigation is ongoing and they are “still open to considering” whether other people may have been involved.

Drug deals, shootings, burning and burial

According to court documents, all four men were shot, one on July 5 and three on July 7th. DiNardo said he put the three bodies in a metal tank he referred to as the “pig roaster,” poured gas into it and lit a fire. He then buried the tank using a backhoe in a 12-foot hole.  The first body was buried at least a quarter-mile away, atop a hill and 6 feet deep.

It appeared “there was an attempt to burn the bodies, to deface them, to obliterate them, but that was not successful,” Weintraub said in the Friday afternoon press conference.

Motives unclear

When asked about the motive for the killings, Weintraub said, “I’m not sure if we could ever answer that question.”  According to the affidavit, the first slaying, of 19-year-old Jimi Taro Patrick, happened after Patrick brought an insufficient amount of money for a drug buy with DiNardo.

“So DiNardo offered to sell him a shotgun for that amount,” according to the affidavit. “They walked to a remote part of the property, where DiNardo said he fatally shot Patrick with a .22-caliber rifle,” according to prosecutors.

But DiNardo’s description of the other three killings did not include any clear motivation.  The affidavit for Kratz

Search effort ends

A detective is scours the ground with a flashlight Friday. (WILLIAM BENDER / Staff)

On Wednesday, investigators found human remains on a Bucks County farm owned by the parents of Cosmo DiNardo. The remains of all four missing men were positively identified by Friday:  Dean Finocchiaro, 19, of Middletown Township; Thomas Meo, 21, of Plumstead Township; and Mark Sturgis, 22, of Pennsburg, Montgomery County were found in a 12-foot-deep grave.  Jimi Taro Patrick, 19, of Newtown Township, was killed July 5 and buried in the single grave. His body was not found until later, after prosecutors say DiNardo led them a quarter-mile away and up a hill from the other grave site.

How the bodies were found: Cadaver dogs were able to detect the scent of human remains 12 ½ feet underground.

When the four were last seen: Sturgis and Meo were last seen Friday, July 7. Finocchiaro, who was last seen being picked up by a fifth person who is not missing, also was last seen Friday. Patrick was last seen July 5.

Where investigators were searching: Crews focused on farm acreage on the 6000 block of Lower York Road in Solebury Township, combing the vast property with metal detectors and a backhoe. The property is owned by Antonio and Sandra DiNardo, the parents of Cosmo DiNardo.


More coverage

Polaneczky: When hope for the missing runs out

Cousins formally charged in Bucks slayings

Legal experts praise Bucks deal that led to murder confession

Timeline: Murder of four men in Bucks County

Second person in custody in Bucks County case

Cosmo DiNardo confesses to Bucks County killings of four men

Cosmo DiNardo was known to police, banned from Arcadia U.

Bucks DA cites ‘progress’ at grave where remains were found

In texts, DiNardo unconcerned about missing Bucks man

Bodies found in search for missing Bucks men

Key figure in Bucks disappearance spoke of having people killed, acquaintance says