Arrest of ‘Person of Interest’ in Men’s Disappearance Was Sought Weeks Ago

The authorities cast a wide net across Bucks County in the search for the men early Saturday but narrowed their focus that afternoon to the farm after they tracked the signal from the cellphone of one of the men to the property. When officers arrived, they also discovered a Nissan sedan belonging to another man who had vanished.

While the search continued on Monday morning at the DiNardo family farm, the police in Bensalem, where Mr. DiNardo lives, arrested him on the weapons charge, which stemmed from a February episode in which the police say he was found with a 20-gauge shotgun. Mr. DiNardo was not legally allowed to possess a firearm because he had been involuntarily committed to a mental institution, according to police records.

A judge dismissed the case in May, but the Bucks County district attorney’s office wanted to try it again. On June 21, an assistant district attorney, Megan B. Brooks, told Officer Katherine Bailey of the Bensalem Police Department to “reinstate and refile” the second-degree felony charge. In Pennsylvania, a district attorney’s office may ask a police department to rearrest a person if the case’s statute of limitations has not expired.

“If, for instance, the prosecution believes a district judge’s ruling was made in error, it can exercise its right to authorize refiling of the charges,” Larry R. King, a spokesman for the Bucks County district attorney’s office, wrote in an email Tuesday evening. “Ms. Brooks’ letter authorized Bensalem police to do so.”

Photo

Cosmo DiNardo was arrested on Monday on a prior weapons charge.

Credit
Bucks County District Attorney’s, via Associated Press

The district attorney’s office made the letter public on Tuesday.

But it does not appear that Officer Bailey acted immediately on the request. A spokesman for the Bensalem Police Department has not responded to multiple phone calls and emails seeking comment since Monday, and Officer Bailey did not respond to an email seeking comment on Tuesday evening. Officer Bailey was the officer who arrested Mr. DiNardo on Monday, according to court records.

Efforts on Monday to reach Mr. DiNardo’s parents or his lawyer by phone were unsuccessful. On Tuesday, Mr. DiNardo’s lawyer, Michael K. Parlow, was not responding to a telephone message.

While Mr. DiNardo has not be charged in the disappearance of the four men, the authorities are taking a closer look at him. The police searched his Bensalem home on Monday, about 30 miles from the farm, and Mr. Weintraub said on Tuesday that his office sought the $1 million bail because he had come under scrutiny in their disappearance and was a flight risk.

While Mr. Weintraub said the arrest of Mr. DiNardo was not related to the men’s disappearance, he did call him a “person of interest” in the matter.

“Sometimes the chasm between being 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,” Mr. Weintraub said.

Appealing to the public for information, he added, “I can’t say if there is in fact that type of information, but if there is, I beg of you to please give it to us and let us run it down.”

The four men disappeared over a two-day period starting last Wednesday night. The first of them to vanish, Jimi Tar Patrick, 19, was last seen around 6 p.m. on Wednesday in Newtown Township, Pa., the authorities said. On Friday around 6 p.m., Mark Sturgis, 22, told his father that he was going to meet up with his longtime friend and co-worker, Tom Meo, 21. Dean Finocchiaro, 18, was last seen about 6:30 p.m. on Friday in Middletown Township.

The search team used all-terrain vehicles and heavy equipment at the farm after officials found an early 1990s champagne-colored Nissan Maxima, which belonged to Mr. Meo, according to Mark Potash, the father of Mr. Sturgis. His son’s car was found at an outdoor shopping mall.

At a news conference on Tuesday afternoon, a reporter asked Mr. Weintraub how the investigation compared in scale with other investigations in the county.

“Take the biggest one you’ve ever seen and multiply it by a million. That’s what we’re dealing with here,” he said. “The amount of manpower that we’ve employed, just at this property, is mind-boggling. But that’s what it’s going to take, apparently.”

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