DOYLESTOWN Pa. (CN) – A search-and-rescue operation for four young men who went missing last week in Pennsylvania became a homicide investigation Wednesday night when cadaver dogs led police and FBI to a 12-foot-deep common grave.
Located on a farm in Solebury Township owned by Antonio and Sandra DiNardo, the grave is said to contain several sets of human remains.
“I don’t understand the science behind it, but those dogs could smell these poor boys 12½ feet below the ground,” Bucks County District Attorney Matthew Weintraub said at a midnight news conference, as quoted by the Associated Press.
Authorities have identified one of the bodies as that of 19-year-old Dean Finocchiaro, one of four young men whose disappearance last week sparked the rescue mission.
Finocchiaro had not been seen since July 7 — the same day as the disappearances of 22-year-old Mark Sturgis and 21-year-old Tom Meo.
The fourth missing man, 19-year-old Jimi Tar Patrick, was last seen Wednesday. Patrick attended a Catholic high school for boys with Cosmo DiNardo, 20.
Early Thursday evening, as Cosmo DiNardo’s attorney Paul Lang left the Bucks County Courthouse, he announced his client confessed to “participating” in all four murders of the missing Bucks County men. Lang wouldn’t comment on whether other people were involved.
“In exchange for the confession… he was promised by the district attorney that he would spare his life and not evoke the death penalty” Lang explained.
Lang calls his client’s confession “very forthright” and claims he cooperated and “gave all relevant details he could.”
DiNardo is filmed saying, “I’m sorry” as he exited the courthouse in an orange jumpsuit. His attorney explained that he feels deep remorse and even gave the locations of all four bodies.
The district attorney hasn’t commented on the case.
Diagnosed with schizophrenia, DiNardo lives with his parents on the 90-acre farm where the grave was found. While the investigation has been underway this week, DiNardo has been in and out of police custody, beginning with the refiling Monday of unrelated weapons charge.
A criminal complaint on these allegations from February 2017 says DiNardo possessed a shotgun and ammunition he was not permitted to have because he has a “mental illness” and had been involuntarily committed to an inpatient treatment facility.
Antonio DiNardo posted 10 percent of his son’s $1 million bail on Tuesday only to greet a new criminal complaint that charges the young man with stealing Meo’s 1996 Nissan Maxima, which he allegedly tried to sell for $500 over the weekend.
The July 12 complaint caused DiNardo’s bail to shoot up to $5 million. DiNardo was back in custody at the Bucks County Jail last night when the grave was found.
DA Weintraub was oblique about the suspect at the midnight press conference, saying only that “there are some very obvious links” connecting DiNardo to the case.
DiNardo’s parents have been subpoenaed to appear before a grand jury meeting in Doylestown on Thursday to determine if there is enough evidence to bring charges and possibly name Cosmo Dinardo as a suspect.
The DiNardos are represented by Fortunato Perri Jr., from the Philadelphia law firm McMonagle, Perri, McHugh & Mischak. The same firm is representing former comedian Bill Cosby on sexual-assault charges in a neighboring Philadelphia suburb.
“As parents Mr. and Mrs. Dinardo sympathize with the young men and they are cooperating in every possible,” Perri Jr. said.
Eric Beitz, 20, of Bensalem, who claims to be a mutual friend of DiNardo and the four missing men said on Wednesday that DiNardo sold marijuana and guns, and aggressively sought new customers. Beitz also claims DiNardo was “different” after an ATV accident in November 2016 where he was rumored to suffer a brain injury.
The new complaint against DiNardo says a mobile license plate reader used by Solebury police on Friday at 7:49 p.m. captured a plate number belonging to a vehicle matching DiNardo’s truck in the area of the 2500 block of Street Road in Solebury within seconds of capturing a plate matching Meo’s Maxima.
Solebury Detective Cpl. Jonathan Koretzky found the the 1996 Nissan car keys and its title, in Meo’s name, folded and hanging on the wall inside a garage owned by the DiNardo family.
Meo, who is diabetic left his insulin in the car, something his mother says he would never do. “Her son carries his diabetic supplies wherever he goes and would not intentionally leave them behind,” the criminal complaint states.
DiNardo’s attorneys sparred with Bucks County First Assistant District Attorney Gregg Shore earlier this week over their client’s high bail. “They had this information two days ago and decided to file today,” said Michael Parlow of Gallant & Parlow. “They just want to keep him in.”
Bucks County Magisterial District Judge Maggie Snow meanwhile agreed that Dinardo posed a “grave risk,” noting that his $5 million bail was the highest she has ever set.
Associated Press reporters contributed to this report.