Cosmo DiNardo was awake. And he was seeking suggestions from his 2,044 Facebook friends.
“Best methods to fall asleep?” he wrote at 1:19 a.m. on July 6. “Other than [awful] tasting tea oh and working out doesn’t make me tired FYI.”
It was hours after DiNardo allegedly had killed and buried Jimi T. Patrick of Newtown, one day before three more young men would be gunned down at DiNardo’s family property in Solebury, Bucks County, and one week before DiNardo would confess to all four murders.
On Thursday, DiNardo and his cousin Sean Kratz are scheduled for a preliminary hearing in Doylestown, their first court appearance since being jailed without bail in July.
Prosecutors say DiNardo confessed in exchange for a promise that he would not face the death penalty. Kratz was made no such promise; prosecutors are still deciding whether to seek the death penalty against him. One of his lawyers, Craig Pengalese, said Kratz has admitted to being present for three of the killings — not committing them.
The motive for the killings remains a mystery. Prosecutors have said they may never find one. But they have cast DiNardo, the 20-year-old from Bensalem, as the driving force in the crimes, his cousin as an accomplice.
Neither DiNardo nor his relatives has spoken publicly in the months since the days-long, frantic search for the four victims and the discovery of their remains. His lawyers have said little. His friends and acquaintances have been reluctant to discuss him, and the few willing to talk usually do so with a request not to be identified with a suspect believed to have lured four young men to his family’s isolated farm, gunned them down, and buried their bodies.
Public records and court documents have offered some details. But perhaps nothing is as illuminating as the online postings from DiNardo and those who know him. He posted frequently on Facebook and Instagram — often more than once a day — desperately seeking friends and women. He posted openly about dealing pot but also at times shared other career aspirations.
Together, the postings offer a portrait of an increasingly lonely and isolated young man, one whose life unraveled in the year before that sleepless July night.
“I watched him change and struggle with his mental health,” wrote Chris Hellmuth, who identified himself as a close friend of DiNardo’s since the fourth grade, on Facebook after the killings. “The Cosmo I knew for over 10 years would never be capable of anything like this, but his current mental state is not one of a rational human being.”
Hellmuth and others pointed to an ATV accident in May 2016 as a turning point for DiNardo. Solebury police said they responded that day to the DiNardo family’s Solebury farm, found DiNardo with a broken ankle, and transported him to a hospital for further evaluation.
Two months after that accident, Solebury police got a call for help at Aquetong and River Roads – near the DiNardos’ property. He and his mother, Sandra, were having “a verbal altercation” inside their car, police said.
Public documents don’t elaborate on the cause of the spat or how intense it got. But later that day, Sandra DiNardo had her son committed for treatment for schizophrenia, according to prosecutors and court documents. Where and how long he was committed haven’t been made public.
By that time, DiNardo was already known to police — Bensalem police had records of 88 incidents involving the DiNardo family or calls to police from their household since 1998. But the severity of incidents involving Cosmo DiNardo appeared to worsen in the last year.
And his online persona took a darker and sadder turn. Much of DiNardo’s Facebook profile is not public. But after his arrest, one of his Facebook friends posted a public video of the content of his page.
“I am a savage no explanation needed,” DiNardo wrote Dec. 27 on Facebook.
He sought women — sometimes aggressively and with vulgar language — in frequent posts asking for people to hang out with him or bemoaning his lack of dates.
“Need new women to talk to hmu,” he wrote on Jan. 15, and again on Jan. 19, using “hmu” as an abbreviation for “hit me up.”
“The fact that you have to post statuses about needed new women to talk to is the sad part,” one woman commented in response. “Why don’t you try and make conversation or get out and meet people lol.”
A day later, he posted another plea for women.
“Birthday sex anyone ?????” he wrote on Facebook twice on Jan. 20, the day before he turned 20.
“Who wants to go out with me tonight for my birthday,” he wrote the next day.
When no one responded, he replied to his own post: “any takers.”
And later, he wrote a final birthday Facebook post: “who loves intercourse like me?”
His efforts to find friends weren’t completely in vain.
One young woman, Kim Sambrick of Norristown, said she met DiNardo last year when he posted on Facebook looking for new people to hang out with him. She went out with him a few times, but said she did not see their relationship as romantic. DiNardo would give Sambrick rides in exchange for gas money.
“He seemed actually really nice at first,” Sambrick said after the killings. “But he started to get really creepy.”
On June 30, Sambrick said, DiNardo gave her and a friend a ride home from another friend’s house in Philadelphia. He pulled into a Wawa parking lot and told his passengers that one of them would have to perform sex acts on him.
“You don’t think I just drove you to Philly for $10 in gas money, right?” Sambrick recalled DiNardo saying. She said she and her friend got out of the car, and found a police officer to drive them to a train station.
Though he sold drugs — “I’m in the firewood business now,” DiNardo had announced on Facebook in November, using a slang term for selling marijuana — he seemed to struggle between paths. He had been banned from both his high school and college campuses and in February, was arrested for possessing a firearm. But he took community college courses — passing an English course the week before the slayings.
He also had written on Facebook that he wanted to become a landscaper.
“I currently sell firewood but this spring I am starting my own landscaping business if anyone would like a free estimate call me,” he posted in January.
By March, he wrote of becoming a professional hunter.
“Here is how I plan to make my dreams come true,” he wrote. “First I am going to go to Montana to do taxidermy school for six months. My second step will be to open a butcher shop in New Hope. After the butcher shop I will use the funds to acquire equipment and a building to make an archery range and paintball course.”
Profits would go toward buying land out west, in Florida, and in South Africa, he said, to lead guided hunts and possibly get his own reality television show. DiNardo also posted videos of shooting target practice and photos of deer heads or of himself posing with a deer he had shot.
At the same time, he maintained a fixation with guns. Some who knew him said he sold firearms in addition to drugs. Acquaintances also said he had made other threats and talked about having people killed in the weeks before the murders. A selfie photo that he sent on Snapchat, sneering and pointing a pistol at the camera, added to that image.
Prosecutors say he claimed he offered to sell Patrick, the first victim, a gun shortly before killing him on the family’s property in July.
After the four young men went missing, DiNardo’s social media posts slowed.
His last Facebook post went up in the middle of the night on July 8. It was hours after he and his cousin allegedly killed Dean Finocchiaro, Thomas Meo, and Mark Sturgis but before the search had begun that would lead investigators to the troubled Bensalem man.
“Time to say bye bye to facebook and hello to more free time,” DiNardo wrote at 1:48 a.m.
Later that day, prosecutors say, he and Kratz returned to the Solebury farm. Then they used a backhoe to dig a 12½-foot grave and bury three bodies.
Staff writers Erin McCarthy and Colt Shaw contributed to this article.