Philly police: Haven't questioned Cosmo DiNardo yet on his claims of more killings

A law enforcement official escorts Cosmo DiNardo to a vehicle Thursday, July 13, 2017, in Doylestown, Pa.

Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross said Tuesday that homicide detectives have not yet had a chance to question confessed Bucks County killer Cosmo DiNardo about his claims to prosecutors that he had killed two people in Philadelphia years before four men went missing in Bucks County.

Ross, in a televised interview with 6ABC, said until Philadelphia investigators talk to DiNardo, they have not yet linked him to any unsolved killings in the city.

“In order for us to lend any credence to (DiNardo’s claims) we have to talk to him directly, which we will do if we get that opportunity,” Ross told 6ABC.

“When you’re dealing with someone who’s pathological like that, you don’t know where they’re coming from.”

No names of any possible victims have been reported publicly.

Two separate media reports in the New York Times and CBS3 quoted sources on Monday saying that DiNardo had made the claim to Bucks County authorities when he gave his confession last week in the killings of four missing men whose remains were found on DiNardo’s parents’ Solebury acreage.

 

Ross told the television station Tuesday that investigators are searching police files to match possible unsolved cases with anything DiNardo may have said. Ross said his investigators only have scraps of information with no details – no exact locations or dates.

“A nickname he threw out in one case and an indication about a job that happened in a basement involving a female in another,” Ross said.

Last week, DiNardo’s friend Eric Beitz, 20, of Bensalem, told the Inquirer and Daily News that DiNardo had spoken before of “weird things of like killing people and having people killed” and that DiNardo seemed “mentally unstable.”

The bodies of the four missing men were recovered late last week from deep graves on the Solebury farm acreage owned by DiNardo’s parents, Antonio and Sandra DiNardo. Prosecutors said the victims had been lured to the vast property, first by DiNardo, then by him and his cousin, Sean Kratz of Northeast Philadelphia, in what DiNardo descibed as drug deals gone bad.

In Solebury, Police Chief Dominick Bellizzie said DiNardo had not been on the radar of Solebury police, aside from a domestic dispute last July in which Cosmo DiNardo and his mother were engaged in a verbal altercation inside a car near Aquetong Road.

Not on the radar, that is, until last week, when a missing person report from a nearby police department set off the largest Bucks County investigation in recent history and ultimately led to the grisly discovery of the remains of four missing young men on that 90-acre DiNardo property on Lower York Road.

DiNardo confessed Thursday to the killings of Jimi T. Patrick, 19, of Newtown; Dean A. Finocchiaro, 19, of Middletown Township; Thomas C. Meo, 21, of Plumstead Township; and Mark P. Sturgis, 22, of Pennsburg, Montgomery County.

Prosecutors say DiNardo, of Bensalem, lured the men to the property under the guise of selling them marijuana. He shot the men, ran one over with a backhoe when he ran out of ammunition, and attempted to burn three of the bodies before burying them in a 12½-foot hole. His first victim, Patrick, was buried separately, at a remote location DiNardo revealed to prosecutors in a deal that took the death penalty off the table. Kratz, 20, was also charged in the murders of Meo, Sturgis, and Finnochiaro.

Bensalem police said last week that they had “numerous contacts” with DiNardo since 2011. Those contacts included a February gun charge that was dismissed May 30 because, prosecutors said later, paperwork related to an involuntary mental-health commitment had been filed incorrectly. Pennsylvania law forbids gun possession by anyone committed for mental-health reasons.

Bensalem police did not return additional requests Monday for comments made to multiple officers regarding the nature and number of contacts.

Last week, a DiNardo neighbor in Solebury who asked to remain anonymous said she had heard gunshots and noticed suspicious activity on the Lower York Road property in the past. Once, she said, she had even called police to report shotgun blasts coming from the property after dark.

But Bellizzie said Monday that Solebury police had no reports that officers responded to gunshot calls on the Lower York Road farmland, or on a nearby DiNardo property on Aquetong Road.

The DiNardo parents and their son reside in a home in Bensalem, authorities said.

Last month, Bellizzie said police did respond to a report of a fire on the Lower York Road property but it was unfounded.

And in May 2016, Solebury police responded to a medical emergency on that sprawling tract. Cosmo DiNardo had been injured in an ATV accident, Bellizzie said, and DiNardo believed he may have suffered a broken ankle. Police, EMS, and fire personnel responded, transporting DiNardo down a steep hill and to a hospital.

On Monday, investigators finished up work at the crime scene there, which remained secured, the Bucks County District Attorney’s Office said. Fortunato Perri, one of DiNardo’s lawyers, did not return requests for comment.

And family and friends of DiNardo’s victims continued to mourn, coping with not only the death of four young men but also coming to terms with the gruesome nature of their final moments.

Sharon and Rich Patrick, the grandparents of Jimi Patrick — with whom the college student lived in Newtown — released a letter thanking the District Attorney’s Office for its tireless efforts. They also thanked the families of the other missing men, who kept vigil at the site throughout last week’s painstaking search.

“These parents gave us the strength and resolve to persevere and accept the fact that the victims were no longer with us,” the Patricks wrote. “We, as a group, made the decision to forgo the death penalty for the defendant in return for locating our grandson.”

Meanwhile, Sara Dinner, 20, an Arcadia student from Mechanicsburg, recalled  DiNardo as a man who had pursued her in a way she described as “aggressive” and “uncalled for.”

DiNardo, a graduate of Holy Ghost Preparatory School in Bensalem, attended Arcadia University in the fall 2015 semester but then dropped out.

When DiNardo returned to the Cheltenham campus to reenroll in the fall of 2016, a source at the school who asked not to be identified said DiNardo had verbal interactions with students and staff. The source described the interactions as “not violent, confrontational, or aggressive,” but something about the way he spoke to people led to multiple reports to campus public safety. Cheltenham police were notified, and DiNardo was banned from campus.

A friend of DiNardo’s who asked to remain anonymous said friends had noticed DiNardo’s aggressive and sometimes offensive interactions with women on social media. But that friend attributed the behavior to the ATV accident, which police said occurred almost a year after Dinner first met DiNardo.

Dinner said she met DiNardo at a country music concert in Camden two summers ago. She ran into DiNardo while she and her friends were tailgating, and the two talked about how they were both attending Arcadia in the fall.

But then things got creepy. DiNardo tried to follow her group of four girls into the venue, she said, and even invited them back to his parents’ house after the concert. He told her the property had a lot of land and a swimming pool, she said.

Dinner said she and her friends eventually dodged DiNardo that night, but he had already added Dinner on several social media sites. Soon she was regularly receiving a barrage of Snapchats, in which DiNardo would ask her to hang out and then become angry when she indicated she wasn’t interested.

Before classes started, Dinner said, she had blocked DiNardo on most social media platforms. When Dinner arrived on the Arcadia campus, she recognized a commuter student in her freshman seminar. It was DiNardo.

“I tried to avoid him as much as possible,” Dinner said. But for a commuter, DiNardo was on campus a lot. He often drove a golf cart around, and there were rumors that he sold drugs there at night.

He’d show up at parties, Dinner said. If he and she happened to be at the same party, she said, he would take it to mean she showed up for him, even though there were only a couple of parties on the small campus every weekend.

One day, Dinner said, she and her teammates were warming up for volleyball practice and he walked through the athletic facility saying something like, “Just you wait, I’m going to be on team,” Dinner recalled.

Whenever DiNardo was in a room, “he wanted people to know he was there,” Dinner said.

Dinner said she and her friends were relieved when DiNardo stopped showing up on campus in the spring semester.

But after the news of the killings came out, a friend pointed Dinner to her own Facebook page.

Dinner hadn’t noticed before, she said, but DiNardo had commented on a couple of her profile pictures. On one from February, he wrote: “Sexy.”

And on a more recent picture, he commented: “Muy picante,” which translates to “very spicy.”

Facebook, she said, was the one social media platform on which Dinner had not blocked DiNardo.

On Monday, funeral arrangements were announced for three of the victims. Dean Finocchiaro’s viewing is set for 12 to 4 p.m. Saturday at the James J. Dougherty Funeral Home in Levittown, with a funeral at 4 p.m.

A service for Mark Sturgis is scheduled for 7 to 9 p.m. Thursday at the Fluehr Funeral Home in Bensalem.
Viewings for Tom Meo are set for 6 to 9 p.m. Wednesday and 8 to 9 a.m. Thursday at Burns Funeral Home in Philadelphia, with a Funeral Mass at 10 a.m. Thursday at St. Anselm Church.