Pennsylvania authorities on Wednesday arrested a man whose parents own the sprawling property at the center of a major missing persons investigation.
Cosmo Dinardo, 20, is accused of stealing and then attempting to sell a 1996 Nissan Maxima owned by Thomas Meo, one of the men who went missing last week, Bucks County district attorney Matthew Weintraub said on Wednesday afternoon.
Meo, 21, was reported missing on July 8, and a day later, Dinardo attempted to sell Meo’s vehicle to a friend for $500, Weintraub said.
Meo is one of four men between 19 and 22 years old who went missing over several days last week within miles of each other. They have not been found, and foul play is suspected in their disappearances.
Local and state police and the FBI have embarked on an “all hands on deck” search for the men that, as of Wednesday morning, remained “wide open,” Weintraub said.
The investigation has centered on the sprawling farmland property in Solebury Township owned by Antonio and Sandra Dinardo, Cosmo Dinardo’s parents. The arrest on Wednesday comes on the fourth day of an intensive search of that property.
Weintraub said Wednesday afternoon that he was “encouraged” that there would be some finality in the case.
“The search at the scene up the road is really intensifying,” Weintraub said. “We are going to find something for sure, I have no doubt of that.”
Missing men vexes investigators
Jimi Patrick, 19, of Newtown Township was last seen at 6 p.m. July 5 and was reported missing the next day after he had no contact with friends or family and didn’t show up to work, police said.
Dean Finocchiaro, 19, of Middletown Township was last seen at about 6:30 p.m. Friday evening, police said.
Mark Sturgis, 22, of Pennsburg and Meo, of Plumstead Township were last seen together Friday night near the Doylestown area in Bucks County, CNN affiliate KYW-TV reported. Sturgis’ father said the two were friends.
Amid a search for the men, investigators have focused on the Dinardo property in Solebury Township.
Weintraub said Wednesday that investigators had not found human remains on the property, but he said they had recovered important pieces of evidence about the missing men at that site and at other locations.
“We here are utilizing every resource at our disposal to try to find these four missing men and to solve this case,” Weintraub said.
“This is just really, really rough on everybody involved because of the heat, the magnitude, the scope and the stakes are incredibly high — life and death.”
Overhead images from KYW show large makeshift tents set up across the property as investigative teams dug for evidence using large machinery.
“We’re going to continue in the direction that we’re going,” Weintraub said. “We’re going to keep digging and searching that property until we are satisfied that they are not there.”
Meo’s vehicle was found at a property owned by the Dinardo family, according to a criminal affidavit. It was still registered to Meo and had not been legally exchanged.
The keys and title to the vehicle were folded up and hanging on the wall inside the garage of the property, the affidavit states.
In addition, Meo is a diabetic, yet his diabetic life-saving kit was still in the vehicle, Weintraub said.
Dinardo was charged with one count each of theft and of receiving stolen property, according to the criminal complaint. He was arraigned on the charges in Bucks County on Wednesday afternoon, and bail was set at $5 million dollars cash after Weintraub argued he was a flight risk.
He was also arrested Monday on a charge of possession of a firearm, an offense dating back to February. That charge does not relate or pertain to this case, Weintraub said.
Dinardo was released Tuesday evening after his father paid 10% of his $1 million bail in cash, according to Weintraub.
Dinardo allegedly possessed a 20-gauge shotgun, according to a court documents, even though he was prohibited from possessing a firearm because he was known to be suffering from mental illness and had been involuntarily committed to a mental institution for inpatient care.
A judge dismissed the charge in May, according to court documents. The Bucks County district attorney’s office authorized police to reinstate and refile charges in the case in June, leading to Monday’s arrest.