It can happen when you least expect it. No matter how well your life is going, things can shift from perfect to devastating in the blink of an eye. The residents of Bucks County Pennsylvania learned this all too well recently, when four young men in their midst vanished.
In the space of 10 days, the county would become the subject of national attention and would shed light on a criminal enterprise and a series of unfortunate events that could have actually been prevented…
Meeting for Weed
It was July 5th, 2017 and Jim Patrick, a 19-year-old college student was waiting in front of his grandparent’s house to meet with a friend of his. The reason for the meeting was at once simple and also highly illegal, he wanted to buy 4 pounds of marijuana.
Jim was buying the aforementioned weed from a man in the nearby township of Solebury. 20-year-old Cosmo Dinardo was fixed to make a cool $8,000 off the sale of the marijuana. Cosmo drove the few miles down the road to Newtown to pick Jim up and bring him back to his farm to facilitate the sale: he was only comfortable doing it on his property…
When Jim Patrick didn’t return home the next day and failed to show up for work, Richard Patrick called the Newtown police. His grandson was missing and the last time he had seen him was the night before, when he had been waiting for a ride. And Jim was only the first of the several men to disappear that week.
Ten Days Later
But what had happened to Jim? Did it have something to do with Cosmo Dinardo and a drug deal gone sour, or was it something even more sinister? Those questions wouldn’t be answered until 10 days later and by then, three other men in the area would have gone missing…
Dean Finocchiaro, a 19-year-old from Middletown Township was also on the lookout for drugs. Like Jim Patrick before him, he contacted Cosmo Dinardo. He only needed a quarter pound, about $700 worth, but Cosmo decided to bring his cousin Sean Kratz with him just in case. After all, his last customer had disappeared without a trace.
Dean disappeared that same night, and the next night, so did Thomas Meo and Mark Sturgis, another couple of local men who were looking to buy some pot. At the time, no one knew what was happening to these men, or that all three of them so far had been looking for drugs on the night they vanished…
Make Matters Worse
The next day Meo’s family contacted the police as well. When Sturgis failed to show up for work, so did his parents. To make matters worse, Thomas Meo was a diabetic and the life-saving insulin he needed had been left in his abandoned car. If they didn’t find him in time, he would surely die. But where were all these young men going?
Days Go By
The Pennsylvania State Police had now became involved as well but as the days dragged on with no new leads, it became clear that all four young men had been the victims of foul play. It’s obvious now, but at the time, no one, not even the police knew that all four men were connected to one thing: marijuana…
The search team, which includes five local police departments, Bucks County detectives, Pennsylvania State Police and the FBI, was now looking for bodies. It had been days since any of the men had been seen and without his medicine Thomas Meo was surely dead. Then, finally, they received a tip about the particular drug tastes of all four men.
Thanks to his notoriety and some previous arrests, Cosmo Dinardo was well-known to police. When questioned about what had happened to the men, specifically Dean Finocchiaro, whom he had called on the night of his disappearance, he asserted that he had been involved in an argument with dean and made him get out of his truck before going fishing on his own to cool off…
Dinardo had over 30 contacts with Bensalem Police since 2011 and had even been arrested in February for possession of a firearm. Normally, this wouldn’t have been an arrestable offense bit Dinardo didn’t have a permit and was also mentally ill. He would have been jailed for the offense, but a problem with the paperwork resulted in the charges being dropped.
Cosmo Dinardo had a history of mental illness and has struggled with schizophrenia for many years. The year before all of the disappearances, he had even been involuntarily committed to a mental institution. Yet, was he crazy enough to kidnap or kill four men?
Despite his assertion that he had done nothing wrong, investigators were eventually able to latch on to a signal from one of the missing men’s cellphones, and it led them straight to Dinardo’s doorstep. They went there, hoping to find the men alive, but when they arrived were greeted only by the grim news they had feared for the last eight days.
It was time for Dinardo to come clean and as he began to relay the events of the night of July 5, the police realized that they were dealing with someone truly insane. His first victim, Jim Patrick had died on Dinardo’s farm and was buried with a backhoe into a six foot hole. That night he realized that he could get the money without giving up the weed, so long as he killed his customers of course..
Finocchiaro was also brought to the Dinardo farm and taken to a barn where he was shot and killed in the presence of Cosmo’s cousin Sean Kratz. They then wrapped Finocchiaro in a blue tarp and burned his body in a metal tank which Dinardo affectionately referred to as a “pig roaster.”
Meanwhile, Dinardo set up the other drug deal with Thomas Meo and Mark Sturgis. The men were lured to the farm as well where he drew his gun on both men, shooting Meo. Sturgis tried to run but was struck in the back and killed instantly. Unfortunately for Dinardo, he was out of ammunition and Meo was still alive…
Out of ammunition and with no other tools around him Dinardo jumped into the backhoe and proceeded to crush Meo to death. After that, he used the machine to put the other two bodies into the pig roaster and burned them all. It seemed like the perfect crime, at least in his addled mind, anyway.
Sean Kratz, his cousin and accomplice, also had a long criminal history, including charges for theft and burglary. The plan was originally to simply rob the men they were luring to them to buy weed, but Dinardo took it to the next level and he dragged an unwilling Kratz along with him. It was Kratz who helped lead authorities to the bodies…
Not long after Kratz’s and Dinardo’s arrests investigators discovered the body of Dean Finocchiaro. The other human remains in the same farmland grave were those of Thomas Meo and Mark Sturgis. After that, Dinardo confessed to police where they could find the body of Jim Patrick.
In exchange for his confession, prosecutors have agreed not to pursue the death penalty against Dinardo, but it is clear that both he and Kratz will be charged for the murders and drug possession. Despite the sadness of the story, it’s a comfort to know that the families of these four deceased young men will see justice done.