Friends and family are still struggling to understand why two small-time drug dealers went on a killing spree, murdering four young men they knew. Days after the men were reported missing, police began to focus on the family farm of 20-year-old Cosmo DiNardo, a troubled young man from the Philadelphia suburbs. Their investigation eventually led to his arrest, along with his accomplice, 20-year-old Sean Kratz. DiNardo made a full confession last week in a deal to avoid the death penalty.
Police say the killing began on July 5, when DiNardo gunned down former classmate Jimi Patrick, 19, after he came up thousands of dollars short in a deal for four pounds of marijuana. After shooting him with a rifle, he buried Patrick on his family farm in rural Bucks County, Pennsylvania. Two days later, DiNardo and Kratz decided to rob and kill 19-year-old Dean Finocchiaro during another pot deal, each man blaming the other for the shooting. Later that night, they killed Thomas Meo, 21, and Mark Sturgis, 22, during another drug deal. DiNardo shot both men and then ran over Meo with a backhoe to make sure he was dead after running out of ammunition.
Following the killings on July 7, police say DiNardo and Kratz tried to incinerate their victims’ bodies in a giant “pig roaster” on the property. The following day they buried them in a hole dug with the same backhoe they had used to crush the life out of Meo. However, police soon picked up a signal from Mr. Patrick’s cellphone and eventually zeroed in on the farm. Both DiNardo and Kratz have been charged in the murders of the three men on July 7, while DiNardo was charged separately in the killing of Jimi Patrick. Here is what we know so far about the man behind all four killings.
Cosmo DiNardo Comes From Money
Cosmo DiNardo grew up in Bensalem, PA, a middle-class suburb of Philadelphia. His father, Antonio DiNardo, is the owner of the concrete company Metro Ready Mix and Supply, and “inherited a lucrative real estate portfolio after the death of his father,” according to The New York Times. His mother Sandra DiNardo runs Bella Trucking, with whom Metro Ready Mix and Supply often partners, selling concrete and then delivering it.
Sean Kratz Is His Cousin
While Cosmo grew up wealthy in the suburbs, his cousin Sean grew up in working class North Philadelphia, where he lives with his mother and stepfather. He has been arrested multiple times for break-ins and thefts in the area. Sheila Fontaine, the mother of Kratz’ ex-girlfriend, even believes he stole her pet Yorkshire Terrier. “I still believe he did it,” she told The Philadelphia Inquirer. “I loved that dog.”
Cosmo Had A History Of Violence
While some friends described him as generous or “normal” and say he even once received a “Peacemaker of the Month” award at school, others say his history of violence goes back years. Amber Peters, whose boyfriend knew DiNardo, told The New York Times that he's been "talking about killing people since he was 14” and described him as “crazy.” At 15 he attacked two men who were talking to his girlfriend, and in his confession claimed to have killed two people in Philadelphia at the same age. Meanwhile, in an interview with The Philadelphia Inquirer, acquaintance Eric Beitz said “on multiple different occasions” DiNardo had spoken to him about “killing people and having people killed.”
He Stalked Women Online
Ms. Peters told The New York Times DiNardo regularly made unwanted advances to women online, “saying ‘Hey, babe,’ calling them hos and trying to have sex with them.” Sara Dinner, a former classmate of DiNardo’s at Arcadia University, told The Times she eventually blocked him on her phone as a result of his relentless texting. “If he didn’t get his way, he would get so upset,” she says. “I think he had anger management issues, honestly.” Other women have also come forward with similar tales of online pestering and inappropriate sexual messages from DiNardo.
DiNardo Had Been Hospitalized For Mental Illness
At his arraignment hearing last week, prosecutors said Mr. DiNardo was once diagnosed with schizophrenia. While neither his family nor his lawyers would comment, a longtime friend told The New York Times Cosmo was hospitalized at a mental institution on two separate occasions. In February, a neighbor called police after observing Cosmo walking down the road and firing his shotgun. Court records obtained by The Morning Call reveal he was not allowed to possess such weapons under Pennsylvania law due to previously being involuntarily committed to a mental health facility.
DiNardo Was Banned From His Former University
In August 2015, Cosmo enrolled at Arcadia University in Glenside, Pennsylvania, commuting to classes there while still living at home. He dropped out after only one semester for unknown reasons. That didn’t stop him, however, from hanging around the university grounds. Campus police received complaints of DiNardo verbally abusing students, which, according to university spokeswoman Laura Baldwin, “unnerved university community members.” The school notified local police of the incidents, and sent DiNardo a certified letter telling him if he was found on campus he would be treated as a trespasser.
Friends Say Cosmo Changed After An ATV Accident
People who know Cosmo DiNardo say he changed following an accident last year, when he crashed an ATV while on his family’s farm. They claim he was stranded for hours with broken bones before anyone found him, and may have also suffered a brain injury. An anonymous friend told The New York Times DiNardo became “a more violent individual” following the accident. In a Facebook post, childhood friend Chris Hellmuth said he and Cosmo grew afterwards, and blamed the accident on his friend’s violent turn. “The Cosmo I knew for over 10 years would never be capable of anything like this.”
DiNardo Spoke About The Missing Men Online
After the men were reported missing, Cosmo DiNardo discussed their dissapearence in a Snapchat group message titled “Tom WYA,” an abbreviation for “Where You At.” “Cosmo isn’t your buddy Dean (Finocchiaro) missing,” someone asked him, “Aren’t you worried.” DiNardo replied, “I mean I know the kid but yeah I feel bad for his parents. He's a pill-popping junky who had 2 duis and got popped for stolen bikes and guns He prob just jumped parole.” In another discussion thread, DiNardo discussed the presence of law enforcement at his family farm. When further pressed as to why the police would be there, he said “I have no clue bro it’s weird people keep hitting me up I have no idea what’s up.”
[Photo: Bucks County District Attorney's Office]