Motive sought in four deaths
Suspect cousins started small
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.