Mo­tive sought in four deaths

Sus­pect cousins started small

The Denver Post - - NEWS - By An­thony Iza­guirre and Michael R. Sisak

PHILADEL­PHIA» The cousins started small — breakins, jew­elry heists and traf­fic vi­o­la­tions — but on Fri­day they were charged in a grisly crime spree that ended with po­lice un­earthing the bod­ies of four young men from two pits buried deep on a sprawl­ing fam­i­ly­owned farm.

Po­lice found the miss­ing men af­ter a gru­el­ing, five­day search in swel­ter­ing heat and pelt­ing rain, but it’s still not clear why the 20-year-old sus­pects’ crimes es­ca­lated from petty of­fenses.

For Cosmo Dinardo, whose lawyer said he con­fessed to all four killings in ex­change for be­ing spared the death penalty, brushes with the law be­gan in his early teenage years.

He was about 14 when the Ben­salem Po­lice Depart­ment first had con­tact with him. Over the next six years, he had more than 30 run-ins with its of­fi­cers, depart­ment di­rec­tor Fred­er­ick Har­ran said, al­though court fil­ings re­flect only the mi­nor in­frac­tions and traf­fic stops that came af­ter age 18.

A year and a day be­fore he ad­mit­ted to killing the miss­ing men, light­ing three of them on fire and us­ing a back­hoe to load the charred bod­ies into an oil tank that he buried more than 12 feet deep on his par­ents’ farm, a fam­ily mem­ber had Dinardo in­vol­un­tar­ily com­mit­ted to a men­tal in­sti­tu­tion.

De­tails of his in­sti­tu­tion­al­iza­tion re­main un­clear, but he was barred by law from own­ing a firearm after­ward. Nonethe­less, when Ben­salem po­lice re­sponded to a re­port of gun­fire in Fe­bru­ary, an of­fi­cer found Dinardo in his truck with a 20-gauge shot­gun and ex­tra am­mu­ni­tion. He ac­knowl­edged his his­tory of men­tal ill­ness, Har­ran said.

“A year later, here we are,” Har­ran said Fri­day. “The sys­tem is bro­ken.”

De­spite the men­tal health com­mit­ment and fre­quent in­ter­ac­tions with po­lice, Dinardo still man­aged to sell guns and mar­i­juana in the area, ac­cord­ing to a source fa­mil­iar with Dinardo’s con­fes­sion.

A po­lice af­fi­davit con­firmed the source’s story — Dinardo lured each of the vic­tims to his fam­ily’s 90acre Sole­bury Town­ship farm un­der the guise of mar­i­juana deals.

His first vic­tim was set to buy $8,000 worth of mar­i­juana but ar­rived with only $800, Dinardo told po­lice, so he brought the 19-yearold Loy­ola Univer­sity stu­dent to a re­mote part of the farm and shot him with a .22 cal­iber ri­fle. He buried Jimi Taro Patrick in a hole he dug with a back­hoe. Yel­low rib­bons now line the New­town street where Patrick lived with his grand­par­ents.

Dinardo then en­listed his cousin, Sean Kratz, to help him rob 19-year-old Dean Finoc­chiaro, 22-year-old Mark Stur­gis and 21-yearold Tom Meo, ac­cord­ing to the po­lice af­fi­davit.

The three vic­tims were shot, placed with a back­hoe into an oil tank that had been con­verted into a cooker that Dinardo called a “pig roaster,” and then lit on fire, ac­cord­ing to the af­fi­davit. He buried the drum deep un­der the ground on his fam­ily’s farm.

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