Suspect arrested again in search for 4 missing Pa. men

SOLEBURY TWP., Pa. -- Cosmo DiNardo, the man named a person of interest in the disappearance of four men in Bucks County, and who was previously arrested on an unrelated offense, has now been arrested and charged with a crime more closely tied to the investigation.

DiNardo, 20, has been charged with the theft of a 1996 Nissan Maxima belonging to one of the missing men, 21-year-old Thomas Meo of Plumstead.

DiNardo had a court hearing late Wednesday and bail was set at $5 million cash.

Booking photo of Cosmo DiNardo

Booking photo of Cosmo DiNardo.

According to Bucks County District Attorney Matthew Weintraub, Meo's girlfriend told investigators he went missing July 7. On July 8, Meo's family reported him missing to authorities.

On July 9, Weintraub said, DiNardo allegedly tried to sell Meo's Nissan to a friend for $500. Weintraub said investigators know who that friend is, but they are withholding his identity "for potential safety."

The vehicle was later found at a property belonging to DiNardo's family on Aquetong Road in Solebury Township.

The title for the vehicle was unsigned, Weintraub said, indicating there was no legal exchange of ownership.

Investigators also allegedly found a diabetic kit inside the car. Meo is diabetic, Weintraub said, and is known to carry that "life-saving" kit with him.

DiNardo is charged with theft and receiving stolen property. DiNardo is considered a flight risk, the D.A. said.

"I don't know it, but it's possible that this charge will be enveloped in a larger set of circumstances," Weintraub said. "I don't want to comment on that prematurely, though."

Timeline from Bucks County Detectives regarding Dinardo auto theft charges

Friday, July 7
- 4:53 p.m. Thomas Meo's girlfriend receives last text message from him.
- Mark Sturgis, good friend and coworker of Meo, last seen.
- Sturgis tells father he is going to meet Meo.
- 7:49 p.m. license plate reader catches Cosmo Dinardo's vehicle at 2541 Street Road, Solebury.
- 7:49 p.m. (seconds later) same license plate reader captures Thomas Meo's Nissan Maxima.

Saturday, July 8
- Thomas Meo and Mark Sturgis both fail to report to work.
- Melissa Fretanduno-Meo, mom, calls Plumstead Twp. police to report her son missing.
- 5:00 p.m. time that a friend of Cosmo Dinardo from Bensalem says he received a call from Dinardo. Friend says he later meets Dinardo at Bristol Road and Galloway Road in Bensalem offering to sell an older model Nissan Maxima for $500. (as told to a Bucks County detective.)

Sunday, July 9
- 2:10 a.m. Mark Sturgis' Nissan located in Peddler's Village.
- 4:00 a.m. Meo's 1996 Nissan Maxima located at 2827 Aquetung Road, Solesbury Pa. Keys, title found folded hanging up on the wall in abandoned garage. Meo's diabetic supplies found in vehicle. The location is less than two miles from where the license plate reader captured Meo and Dinardo at nearly the same time. The location is less than two miles from Peddler's Village.
- 2:30 p.m. Cosmo Dinardo tells Bucks County detectives he was driving a silver 2016 Ford Pickup on the night of July 7 with the same tag that was picked up by a license plate reader at nearly the same time as Meo.
- Sturgis' parents report him missing to Pennsylvania State Police.

The Bucks County district attorney said several pieces of evidence have been recovered amid the search for four missing men.

D.A. Matthew Weintraub said during a news conference on Wednesday morning that the evidence was recovered at the farmland in Solebury Township that has been the focus of a massive search this week.

"We have recovered several important pieces of evidence at this site that we're currently working very hard on - with the majority of our manpower - and at other locations," Weintraub said.

Weintraub said that no human remains have been found.

VIDEO: D.A. Weintraub update on Wednesday morning

Bucks County DA gives update on missing men on the morning of July 12, 2017.

When asked if the evidence leads him to believe the remains of the four men were on the property, Weintraub simply said investigators are going to "continue in the direction that we're going."

"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," Weintraub said.

The search for the four missing men stretched into its fourth day on Wednesday.

Video showed a search area with sections dug up by heavy equipment. Tents covered portions of the scene. Sources tell ABC News that a ping from one of the missing men's cellphones led investigators to the property.

A person of interest in this case, 20-year-old Cosmo DiNardo, posted 10 percent of $1 million bail on Tuesday evening after his arrest the day before on unrelated charges.

PHOTO: Cosmo DiNardo

Booking photo of Cosmo DiNardo.

He was charged with a firearms possession offense from February.

It is not known where DiNardo went after being released from the Bucks County Jail, as he did not return to his family's home in Bensalem.

VIDEO: Person of interest posts bail
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'Person of interest' released on bail. Dann Cuellar reports during Action News at 11 p.m. on July 11, 2017.

During a news conference on Tuesday, Weintraub stressed that DiNardo is not being called a suspect at this time.

"Sometimes the chasm between a person of interest, and being a person that is actually accused or arrested, and certainly convicted of a crime, is so wide that we never cross it," Weintraub said.

VIDEO: D.A. Weintraub update on Tuesday
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News conference with DA Matthew Weintraub. Watch raw video from the morning of July 11, 2017.

According to an affidavit of probable cause, DiNardo was accused of possessing a shotgun and ammunition despite a history of mental illness that includes an involuntary commitment.

The charge had been dropped, but was refiled Monday. Weintraub said bail was set high over concerns that DiNardo might be a flight risk.

DiNardo was taken into custody at the Bensalem home in the unit block of Wayland Circle. It was one of the multiple locations being searched by authorities on Monday.

His family also owns a property on Aquetong Road that was searched on Sunday, and a farm on Lower York Road near Route 202 in Solebury Township where an active search continues.

RELATED: Friends, neighbors seek answers in Bucks Co. missing men case
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'Person of interest' released on bail. Dann Cuellar reports during Action News at 11 p.m. on July 11, 2017.

Weintraub said the search at the DiNardo property is massive and involves major construction equipment, fine sifting equipment and cadaver dogs.

"We are still gradually sifting through the property," Weintraub said. "It's 90-some acres and we're going through it with the equivalent of a fine-tooth comb. It's going to take us a very long time."

The four missing men are identified as Mark Sturgis, 22, of Pennsburg; Tom Meo, 21, of Plumstead; Dean Finocchiaro, 19, of Middletown Twp.; and Jimi Tar Patrick, 19, of Newtown.

PHOTO: Identities of missing men

Weintraub said he believes foul play is involved.

"I sure believe there is," he said during a news conference on Monday afternoon.

The FBI has joined the investigation. Weintraub said the leads in this case are "very hot."

Search scene in Solebury Twp. on July 11
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Search resumes for missing men in Bucks Co. See raw video from Chopper 6 on July 11, 2017.

"We've been treating this from the outset as a criminal investigation, and nothing has deterred that to this point," Weintraub said.

But when asked why he believes foul play was involved, he said it was due to "information that I know that I can't share."

VIDEO: D.A. Weintraub update on Monday afternoon
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Watch D.A. Matt Weintraub discuss the search for four local men last seen in the greater Bucks County area at 3:30 p.m. on July 10, 2017.

Sturgis, Meo and Finocchiaro were last seen on Friday. Patrick was last seen on Wednesday, July 5.

Weintraub said it is believed all four men know each other, but investigators are working to confirm that information.

Weintraub said while "tons" of tips have come in, investigators continue their plea to the public for more information.

"What we're looking for is information that connects these four men together, that may connect them to the property we're searching, connect them to Cosmo DiNardo, perhaps," he said. "I can't say if there is that type of information, but if there is, I beg of you to please give it to us and let us run it down."

"Hope and pray for the best"

People who know the four missing men say all they can do now is hope for the best.

Jennifer Albrecht is a bartender at the Candlewyck in Doylestown, where Jimi Patrick works as a beer-runner.

She says Patrick is one of the nice guys.

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Man linked to 4 missing men case called 'person of interest'. Walter Perez reports during Action News at 4pm on July 11, 2017.

"He was on the shyer side, but you would get a smile out of him, a little conversation," she said.

Albrecht says the irony is how this shy, soft-spoken young man is now at the center of most conversations at the bar.

"Everybody's talking about it. Everybody just wants to find all four of the men that are missing," Albrecht said. "Hope and pray for the best. For all of them."

Anyone with information is asked to contact investigators at 215-297-8201.

As the search continues for four missing men in Bucks County, friends and neighbors are left with many questions.

On Tuesday night, friends of the missing four men kept vigil near the search site in Solebury Township.

"It's hard. We're all just shaken up by the whole thing. We're just scared. We just want to know something," friend Walter Marcinkowski said.

Crosby Cavanugh spoke about her friend Patrick.

"He was so close to me. That's one of my best friends. He was such a good person. Everyone deserves a Jimi in their life," Cavanugh said.

Marcinkowski says they were hanging out with Patrick on the 4th of July, the night before he disappeared. They went to school together at Holy Ghost Prep.

Until this investigation, Marcinkowski says he had never heard the name Cosmo DiNardo, a 20-year-old identified by Bucks County District Attorney Matthew Weintraub as a "person of interest" in the case.

VIDEO: D.A. Weintraub update on Tuesday
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News conference with DA Matthew Weintraub. Watch raw video from the morning of July 11, 2017.

"Never seen him before, never heard of the name," Marcinkowski said.

Brett Bergholtz, a friend of Finicchiaro, says he too never heard of DiNardo.

"I just heard of it like now, I never heard of his name before that," Bergholtz said.

PHOTO: Cosmo DiNardo

Booking photo of Cosmo DiNardo.

DiNardo was released on bail on an unrelated gun charge Tuesday; he has not been charged in connection with the missing men.

DiNardo's family owns the farm on Lower York Road in Solebury Township where the active search continued Tuesday.

The car of Tom Meo was discovered in a garage Sunday night at another property owned by the DiNardo family on Aquetong Road. But whatever the relation between DiNardo and the four missing men is something authorities are keeping close to the vest.

"We still have our investigators working on that; I am not at liberty to disclose that at this point," Weintraub said.

Neighbors and residents near the search area have been captivated since the investigation began.

"Everyone is just very concerned and worried. I think a lot of people are spooked," Sam Jarin of Plumstead said.

"I thought this doesn't happen in Solebury; this doesn't happen around here," Lisa Curreri of New Hope said.

VIDEO: Community seeks answers in missing men case
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Friends, neighbors seek answers in Bucks Co. missing men case. Annie McCormick reports during Action News at 11 p.m. on July 11, 2017.

"I feel for the families; it's so heart wrenching. I can't believe something like that is happening so close to here," Katie O'Connell of Solebury Township said.

Employees of local stores say customers and the community are asking questions.

"They've come in and asked what's going on around here. It's a tight-knit community and we're not really sure of anything," O'Connell said.

The sight of teams of law enforcement is now a constant for those near Route 202 in Solebury Township.

"Helicopters. All the time," resident Nancy Matusz.

In Bensalem, where DiNardo lives, residents say they are seeing more marked units on patrol.

Resident Reggie Polk says police are telling neighbors to "be vigilant, keep your eyes open if you see anything suspicious with what's going on in the news."

Calls to the DiNardo family and Cosmo DiNardo's lawyer seeking comment were not returned.
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