DOYLESTOWN, Pa. >> A pot dealer gave police a grisly account of killing four men on his family’s Pennsylvania farm, saying he crushed one of them with a backhoe after shooting him and tried to set three of the bodies on fire in the same metal bin, according to court papers filed today.
Twenty-year-old Cosmo DiNardo, who graduated from a Catholic prep school two years ago, said he killed a former schoolmate when he arrived with $800 to buy $8,000 worth of pot. He said he shot another man in the back as he tried to run away. And he pinned one of the deaths on a cousin charged today in the case, although the cousin told police that DiNardo shot all four of the victims.
The only motive disclosed by investigators was that DiNardo said he wanted to set the victims up when they came to the farm to buy marijuana. One man vanished July 5 and the others two days later.
Three of the slain men were buried at the farm in an oil tank that had been converted into a cooker. The FBI found them Wednesday after four days of methodical hand-digging and sifting in a spot on the 90-acre farm that dogs had sniffed out.
Authorities might never have found the fourth body unless they worked with DiNardo, Bucks County District Attorney Matthew Weintraub said.
“I don’t know what convinced him (to confess). I’d like to think he wanted to get these boys home,” Weintraub said at a news conference, explaining the surprise plea agreement forged Thursday that led them to the final body.
DiNardo told police where to find 19-year-old Loyola University of Maryland student Jimi Taro Patrick, and agreed to plead guilty to four counts of first-degree murder. In exchange, he will be spared the death penalty.
“We’d still be looking for Jimi Patrick had we not made this agreement,” Weintraub said. “It was so far away (from the others on the farm) that I started to get sick to my stomach on the ride.”
DiNardo’s history of mental illness includes the involuntary commitment, a schizophrenia diagnosis and repeated contacts with police. He also suffered a head injury last year in an ATV accident.
The commitment meant he was barred from possessing guns, but nonetheless had one in February when police charged him with having a shotgun. He also used at least two guns in the slayings, investigators said.
A person with firsthand knowledge of his confession said he acknowledged selling a variety of handguns to local residents. The person spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity on Thursday because he was not authorized to publicly discuss details of the case.
DiNardo is charged with four homicide counts and 20 other crimes, including abuse of corpse, conspiracy and robbery. His 20-year-old cousin Sean Kratz faces 20 counts, including three homicide counts. Both were being held in jail without bail.
DiNardo’s parents, who own the farm property in Solebury as well as construction and concrete companies in Bensalem, where they live, declined to comment Thursday when they left a court building after their son confessed. Kratz’s mother, Vanessa, declined to comment on her son arrest’s when reached by phone.
Kratz told a judge today that he had no lawyer. She replied that he should hire one or apply for a public defender.
The other victims are 19-year-old Dean Finocchiaro, 22-year-old Mark Sturgis and 21-year-old Tom Meo. Patrick was a year behind DiNardo at Holy Ghost Prep School near Bensalem.
“I’m sorry,” DiNardo told reporters Thursday as he was led into a police van.
AP reporter Anthony Izaguirre contributed from Philadelphia.