Mon, Jul 17, 2017 - Page 5 News List

Cousins allegedly moved from small crimes to murder

WONDERING WHY:Cosmo DiNardo, who has a history of run-ins with the police and mental illness, allegedly asked Sean Kratz to help him rob three men who were later slain

AP, PHILADELPHIA, Pennsylvania

Two cousins charged in a gruesome crime spree that ended with police unearthing the bodies of four young men buried on a family farm started off committing small crimes.

However, authorities do not know why the 20-year-old suspects escalated from offenses like break-ins and jewelry heists to allegedly killing their victims and burying them in two pits so deep beneath the ground that a backhoe and dozens of people were needed to sift through the dirt.

Police found the missing men after a grueling, five-day search in sweltering heat and pelting rain.

For Cosmo DiNardo, whose lawyer said he confessed to all four killings in exchange for being spared the death penalty, brushes with the law began in his early teenage years.

He was about 14 when the Bensalem Police Department first had contact with him.

He had more than 30 run-ins with its officers over the next six years, police department director Frederick Harran said, although court filings reflect only the minor infractions and traffic stops that came after age 18.

DiNardo enrolled at Arcadia University in Glenside in the fall of 2015 with hopes of studying biology and had an eye on international travel, according to a blog post announcing the incoming class.

“I’m going to go overseas, hopefully to Italy and the rest of Europe,” he is quoted as saying.

However, his time at the school was short. After making comments that unnerved several people on campus, public safety officials contacted the local police department.

The university sent a letter to DiNardo’s parents saying said their son could face trespassing charges if he returned to the school, a person aware of the contents of the letter said, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly discuss it.

A year and a day before he admitted to killing the missing men, lighting three of them on fire and using a backhoe to load the charred bodies into an oil tank that he buried more than 3.7m deep on his parent’s farm, a family member had DiNardo involuntarily committed to a mental institution, Harran said.

Details of his institutionalization remain unclear, but he was barred by law from owning a firearm afterward.

Nonetheless, when Bensalem police responded to a report of gunfire in February, an officer found DiNardo in his truck with a 20-gauge shotgun and extra ammunition.

He acknowledged his history of mental illness, Harran said.

“A year later, here we are,” Harran said on Friday. “The system is broken.”

Despite the mental health commitment and frequent interactions with police, DiNardo still managed to sell guns and marijuana in the area, according to a source familiar with DiNardo’s confession who spoke on condition of anonymity.

A police affidavit confirmed the source’s story — DiNardo lured each of the victims to his family’s Solebury Township farm under the guise of marijuana deals.

His first victim was set to buy US$8,000 worth of marijuana but arrived with only US$800, DiNardo told police, so he brought the 19-year-old Loyola University student to a remote part of the farm and shot him with a .22 caliber rifle.

He buried Jimi Taro Patrick in a hole he dug with a backhoe.

According to the police affidavit, DiNardo enlisted his cousin, Sean Kratz, to help him rob 19-year-old Dean Finocchiaro, 22-year-old Mark Sturgis and 21-year-old Tom Meo after Patrick’s killing.

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