Published On: Thu, Sep 7th, 2017

Wheels of Justice Begin to Turn for Accused Solebury Slayers DiNardo, Kratz

July 10, 2017.

Both defendants in the July slayings of four young area men in Solebury Township were ordered held for trial on all charges Thursday by Magisterial District Judge Maggie Snow.

Snow scheduled Cosmo DiNardo, 20, of Bensalem, and Sean Kratz, 20, of Northeast Philadelphia, to be formally arraigned on Oct. 6 in Bucks County Common Pleas Court. Tentative trial dates are expected to be set at that time.

DiNardo faces four counts of criminal homicide in the deaths of Jimi Taro Patrick, 19, of Newtown Township; Dean Finocchiaro, 19, of  Middletown Township; Thomas Meo, 21, of Plumstead Township; and Mark Sturgis, 22, of Pennsburg.

Kratz is charged with the deaths of Finocchiaro, Meo and Sturgis, but not Patrick.

Cosmo DiNardo and Sean Kratz.

Prosecutors allege that DiNardo lured the men to a sprawling Solebury property owned by his parents with the promise of selling them marijuana, but killed them instead. According to a probable cause affidavit, he has acknowledged fatally shooting every victim except Finocchiaro, whose death he blamed on Kratz. The affidavit states that Kratz acknowledges being present for three of the slayings, but claims that Dinardo did all the killing.

DiNardo said little during his brief video hearing. Dressed in an orange prison jumpsuit, he sat at a table beside his attorney, Michael Parlow, and signed the waiver documents with his wrists still handcuffed.

When questioned by Snow about whether he wanted to waive his hearing, DiNardo said, “My lawyer explained it to me and that’s what I want to do.”

Kratz appeared in person before Snow, who upheld all charges against him after hearing testimony from Bucks County Detective Martin McDonough, one of the lead investigators on the case. McDonough, who took a statement from Kratz at the time of his arrest, said the defendant repeatedly referred to the killings as a “massacre.”

Social media post showing DiNardo’s hobbies.

DiNardo is accused of fatally shooting Patrick on July 5 and burying his body near the top of a small mountain on the remote property. Finocchiaro, Meo and Sturgis were shot and killed two days later, with Kratz present, the probable cause affidavit states. Their bodies were found in 12-foot-deep common grave elsewhere on the same property.

When Patrick’s remains failed to turn up in the grave shared by the other victims, District Attorney Matthew D. Weintraub offered to forego seeking the death penalty for DiNardo in return for information helpful to the investigation. That information led searchers to Patrick’s body.

Prosecutors are continuing to analyze potential aggravating circumstances in Kratz’s case and have not yet decided whether to seek the death penalty against him. That determination must be made prior to his formal arraignment.

McDonough testified that DiNardo already had given a statement implicating Kratz in three of the slayings when he and Lt. David Kemmerer of the Bucks County Detectives interviewed Kratz for more than three hours on the night of July 13.

McDonough said Kratz changed his story multiple times before acknowledging that he was with DiNardo at the Solebury farm on July 7, the night Finocchiaro, Meo and Sturgis were killed. “I believe at that point he broke down and started crying,” the detective said.

Bucks County DA Matt Weintraub speaks at a press briefing in July.

Kratz told the detectives that DiNardo picked him up at Kratz’s house between 3 p.m. and 4 p.m., that day McDonough testified. As they drove to Finocchiaro’s house in Middletown, DiNardo disclosed that he had no marijuana with him, instead showing Kratz a handgun and saying, “I may just rob Dean,” Kratz said in his statement.

After arriving at the farm, Kratz said, he stayed behind as DiNardo and Finocchiaro got out and walked into a nearby barn. He said he heard shots fired, while he was standing near the truck.

“He does not acknowledge that he saw the actual killing but that he was brought inside the barn and was shown what was done,” McDonough testified. Kratz told the detectives he vomited when he saw Finocchiaro’s body.

Kratz said that DiNardo wrapped the body in a blue plastic tarp and tried to move it, but was unsuccessful, according to McDonough. DiNardo then got into a backhoe and used it to lift Finocchiaro’s remains into an old metal oil tank that had been cut in half and converted into a cooker, Kratz told the detectives.

DiNardo poured gasoline into the cooker and lit it, Kratz said, and then “explained to Kratz that there were two more boys coming and that he was going to kill them, too, and rob them,” McDonough testified. DiNardo then drove away in his truck and returned with Meo and Sturgis, Kratz told the detectives.

After Meo and Sturgis got out of the truck, Kratz said in his statement, DiNardo shot Meo in the back, paralyzing him. He then shot and killed Sturgis before running over Meo with the backhoe, Kratz told detectives.

DiNardo placed the bodies into the cooker with Finocchiaro’s remains and lit another fire before he and Kratz drove back to Philadelphia and went to a cheesesteak restaurant, Kratz told the detectives.

They slept over at DiNardo’s house before returning to Solebury on July 8, when DiNardo used the backhoe to bury the three bodies in the cooker, McDonough said Kratz told investigators. Kratz also agreed to lead detectives to his aunt’s house in Upper Dublin, Montgomery County, where he had hidden two guns used in the killings, McDonough said.

Autopsy reports were submitted to Snow. The reports said that Finocchiaro died of gunshots to the head, Meo of a gunshot wound to the back and blunt trauma to his head and chest, and Sturgis of gunshots to the thorax. Patrick’s injuries were not discussed at the hearing because Kratz is not charged with his death.

Although DiNardo has described Kratz as his cousin, Kratz told detectives that he had known DiNardo for less than a year, McDonough testified, and that Dinardo “would brag about hurting people and killing people, just in general.”

DiNardo and Kratz also face charges of robbery, abuse of corpse, possession of instruments of crime, and conspiracy in connection to the deaths.

In addition, DiNardo faces felony charges of illegally possessing firearms and theft. Court records say he was prohibited from possessing firearms because he had been involuntarily committed to a mental health treatment center, and that he stole and tried to sell Meo’s car after the shootings.

He waived his right to a preliminary hearing on those charges as well.

The case is being prosecuted by First Assistant District Attorney Gregg D. Shore and Deputy District Attorney Kate Kohler.

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