The Bensalem man Bucks County authorities say is “a person of interest” in the disappearance of four men sold firearms and marijuana and once bragged about having someone killed over a debt, according to a friend of one of the missing men.
Eric Beitz, 20, of Bensalem, told The Inquirer and Daily News that he and his friends had hung out often in recent weeks with Cosmo DiNardo, and said DiNardo came off as agreeable on the surface but “constantly” sold firearms, spoke about killing people, and seemed to have “ulterior motives.”
“I can tell you on multiple different occasions, on multiple different accounts, from multiple different people, including myself – Cosmo has spoken about weird things like killing people and having people killed,” Beitz said. “Everybody you talk to about this guy, you hear he’s mentally unstable.”
His description is one of the most detailed accounts yet of the 20-year-old man at the center of a mystery that has gripped Bucks County and beyond, bringing swarms of law enforcement and packs of national news reporters to small, wealthy Solebury Township.
In two interviews Tuesday, Beitz said he was the last person to see his close friend, Thomas C. Meo, before the man disappeared on Friday evening. Meo, 21, of Plumstead, is missing along with Mark R. Sturgis, 22, of Pennsburg; Dean A. Finocchiaro, 18, of Middletown; and Jimi Tar Patrick, 19, of Newtown.
DiNardo’s parents own the 90-acre property in Solebury Township where investigators are combing and digging for evidence in the case. DiNardo was arrested on Monday on a firearm charge from February that had been dismissed and refiled. He posted 10 percent of his $1 million bail Tuesday evening and was released from jail. Bucks prosecutors on Tuesday declared DiNardo a person of interest in the case.
Neither he, his parents nor their lawyers have spoken publicly about the case.
Beitz said he has been interviewed by investigators. Authorities have been tight-lipped in releasing details about their probe — Weintraub said Wednesday morning that the case was still wide open — but Beitz showed the Inquirer and Daily News photos of him with Meo, who he says has been a friend since both were in the third grade.
Meo was a talented wrestler and loyal friend, he said.
Eric Beitz looks at the senior class photos from Bensalem Township High School, where he and Thomas Meo graduated together. COLT SHAW / Staff
“The most good-hearted, loyal, hard-working young man I’ve ever met in my life,” he said. “He was a hell of an athlete … He was my role model as far that went…. I don’t know of any people who didn’t like him.”
Beitz said he first met DiNardo when the Bensalem man tried to sell drugs to him and his friends. Beitz also said he hung out with them weekly. They noticed a change in his behavior in recent months, and rumors swirled that it was related to an ATV accident several months was the reason for changes in DiNardo, Beitz said.
“Something about him just struck me and all my friends, something about him – his behavior was a bit suspicious. It didn’t seem like he was so concerned with what he said he was concerned with, as much as you could tell he had ulterior motives,” Beitz said. “He’s made a lot of scary insinuations in the weeks leading up to this.”
Beitz said he knew where Meo was headed Friday night but did not want to discuss it because he had spoken to detectives about it.
On June 21, the Bucks County District Attorney’s Office sent a letter to Bensalem police reauthorizing the February charge against DiNardo, which was dismissed in May by a magisterial district judge. But DiNardo was not rearrested until Monday, after the men had gone missing.
“Quite candidly,” Weintraub said Tuesday when asked about the delay in rearresting DiNardo, “sometimes that’s out of our control.” He stressed that the charges were unrelated to the investigation. DiNardo had previously be involuntarily committed to inpatient mental health treatment, according to court documents, and was arrested in February because that admittance prohibited him from carrying firearms under state law.
Cosmo DiNardo appeared to have enrolled at Arcadia University to study biology in 2015.
A post on his Facebook page advertised seven new pairs of name-brand sneakers. A Flickr account belonging to someone of the same name contains 187 photos of shoes, including Nikes and Air Jordans, many pairs taken with a sign with his name and the date written on it. Some images from 2014 show bullets set up next to the shoes.
A photo from a Flickr account belonging to someone by the name Cosmo DiNardo shows a pair of name-brand shoes next to bullets and a piece of paper bearing DiNardo’s name. / FLICKR
Beitz recalled DiNardo offering to sell another friend a shotgun at their first meeting. He said DiNardo had bragged about having someone killed because of a dispute over $800, and that DiNardo said he only gave his phone number out to “people who kill people.”
He sold “rifles, shotguns, handguns… assault rifles. Whatever he could get his hands on. He would kind of brag about it too,” Beitz said.