DA: Police recover car stolen from one of 4 missing men, charge 'person of interest' with theft – Allentown Morning Call

Tom MarkLast Update : Wednesday 12 July 2017 - 9:19 PM
DA: Police recover car stolen from one of 4 missing men, charge 'person of interest' with theft – Allentown Morning Call

Bucks County District Attorney Matthew Weintraub said Wednesday that investigators searching for four missing men found a car reportedly stolen from one of them, and charged the man named as a “person of interest” in the case with theft of the vehicle.

Since Sunday, authorities have been searching a 68-acre farm on Lower York Road in Solebury Township that they believe is linked to the four missing men who mysteriously disappeared.

Weintraub has said “foul play” is suspected, but no bodies have been found.

Family members of the four missing men — 22-year-old Mark Sturgis of Pennsburg; 21-year-old Tom Meo of Plumstead Township; 18-year-old Dean Finocchiario of Middletown Township; and 19-year-old Jimi Tar Patrick of Newtown Township — have been at the site each day keeping vigil, Weintraub said.

At a news conference Wednesday afternoon, Weintraub said that several days after Meo went missing, Cosmo DiNardo, described by the district attorney as the person of interest, tried to sell Meo’s car to a witness whose name police will not release. DiNardo, a 20-year-old Bensalem man whose parents own the Solebury farm, will be charged with receiving stolen property after the car was found on a nearby road, he said.

Meo, a diabetic, had his “life-saving medicine” still inside the car, an item Meo would not be without, Weintraub said. He also said the car’s title was not signed by Meo over to anyone else.

Weintraub said DiNardo will be arraigned on the charge and he again will ask the district judge for a “very high bail because he is a flight risk.” DiNardo already has made $1 million bail on an unrelated weapons charge.

According to the court records filed in the receiving stolen property charge against DiNardo:

On July 8, Meo’s mother, Melissa Fretanduno-Meo told police her son was missing. Her son’s friend, Mark Sturgis, told his father he was meeting with Meo the day before, but were never located.

On July 9, police said they found Meo’s car at 2827 Aquatong Road, a property owned by DiNardo’s parents, Sandra and Anthony DiNardo. The keys to Meo’s car and the title to the vehicle were found “hanging up on a wall inside the garage.”

Inside the car, police also found Meo’s diabetic supplies.

That same day, police say they found Sturgis’ car in the area of Peddler’s Village, less than two miles from the DiNardo’s Aquatong Road property.

On July 9, authorities interviewed a Bensalem man only identified as “KBM,” a friend of DiNardo’s. KBM told police that on July 8, he received a call from DiNardo offering to sell him Meo’s car for $500.

On July 9, police say they interviewed DiNardo, who told detectives he was driving a silver Ford pickup on the evening of July 7.

Police say they reviewed a mobile license plate reader from Solebury Township police who said the license plate for DiNardo’s pickup truck was captured just before 8 p.m. on July 7 along Street Road. A few seconds later, police said the same license plate reader then captured Meo’s license plate near the same location.

The area where the license plates were found are less than 2 miles from the DiNardo’s Aquatong Road property and less than one mile from where Sturgis’ vehicle was found.

Weintraub said Wednesday that the search at the DiNardo farm property is “really intensifying.”

“We are going to find something, I have no doubt,” he said. “We have been utilizing amazing resources that I didn’t even know existed. “

Weintraub would not comment on whether the county’s grand jury is involved in the investigation, but said authorities are “utilizing every resource at our disposal to find the four missing men.”

“This is rough on everyone involved,” he said, mentioning the warm conditions and large numbers of properties that are being searched. “But, I ask everyone to remain patient and keep sending us tips.”

Weintraub said there were several search warrants filed at various properties, but would not detail where.

Dinardo was arrested Monday on a firearms violation stemming from an incident in February, according to court records. Due to an involuntary commitment to a mental health facility, DiNardo is prohibited from possessing a firearm, but in February Bensalem police said they found a shotgun and ammunition in his room.

The younger DiNardo was released Tuesday after his father posted $100,000 bail on his behalf. According to DiNardo’s bail conditions, he must remain at his parents’ home on Wayland Circle in Bensalem and have no contacts with any witnesses in the firearms case.

About 50 Montgomery County police cadets have helped investigators search the woods and cornfields that cover the property. Weintraub said investigators are using everything from backhoes to hand sifting through dirt.

Cadaver dogs were brought to the site Tuesday to aid in the search, police said. Finocchiario, Sturgis and Patrick went missing on Friday. Meo was last seen last Wednesday.

Authorities said that they are attempting to determine the relationship between DiNardo and the missing men.

DiNardo’s attorney, Michael Parlow, has not returned calls for comment.

Weintraub has said very little about DiNardo, who appears to have no criminal record but for a few traffic citations, online records show. His parents, who bought the Solebury property in 2005 and rent it to farmers, own DiNardo Bros. Materials in Bensalem, according to online records.

Cosmo DiNardo did not answer the door Wednesday at his family home on the 900 block of Wayland Circle.

A solitary Bensalem detective sat in an unmarked car keeping watch on the neighborhood as a steady flow of reporters stopped to knock on neighbor’s doors.

Neighbors Larry Arnoff said he’s lived next to the DiNardos for nine years. The DiNardo family built the nine homes on the cul-de-sac off Bensalem Boulevard, Arnoff said.

The DiNardo home is an immense, two-story block of beige stucco, brickwork and double-doors at the front stoop. A “We support the Bensalem Police Department” sign is stuck in the well-kept grass of the front yard below a large tree, ringed with brickwork.

Arnoff said he didn’t know much about the case of the missing men and any connection to Cosmo DiNardo, the oldest of the four DiNardo children.

“Very nice people, very lovely people,” Arnoff said.

DiNardo sometimes worked for his father’s business, Arnoff said, and at some point in the past year suffered an injury at work. He also attended school, he said.

Alfred O’Donnell, a contractor working on Arnoff’s garage door, said he saw Cosmo DiNardo looking out one of the home’s windows Wednesday morning. O’Donnell said in October he’d been working at Arnoff’s home and met the younger DiNardo. At the time, DiNardo said he hunted deer and the two talked about DiNardo’s large, Ford F-350 pickup truck.

O’Donnell said he saw DiNardo again last week and asked about the pickup, which wasn’t parked at the home, and DiNardo said his mother was using it.

Authorities said Tuesday they were trying to determine any relationship between DiNardo and the missing men. According to their Facebook profiles, DiNardo is friends with Patrick.

The firearms charge was dismissed by a district justice in May, but prosecutors approved re-filing the charge in early June. That didn’t happen at the time, but on Monday, it was refiled and DiNardo was arrested. Weintraub said prosecutors asked for the high bail due to DiNardo being a “flight risk” since he is the person of interest in the disappearances.

Weintraub urged anyone with information to call 215-297-8201. He will provide another update at 3 p.m. today.

matt.coughlin@mcall.com

Twitter @coughlinreports

610-820-6564

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