PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A busload of police cadets was brought in Tuesday to help search a large farm for four missing men believed to be victims of foul play as a prosecutor described a man held on an unrelated gun charge as a person of interest in the investigation.
Bucks County District Attorney Matthew Weintraub said bail was set at a $1 million Monday for Cosmo DiNardo, whose family owns the farmland and another property that was searched, because he was considered a flight risk. But Weintraub did not call him a suspect, and cautioned there is often a “chasm” between being called a “person of interest” in an investigation and being charged with a crime.
DiNardo, 20, is accused of illegally possessing a shotgun and ammunition in February. A court affidavit said he had a history of mental illness and had been involuntarily committed to an institution for inpatient care. It did not say when the commitment had occurred. The charge had been dismissed by a judge in February but was refiled.
Numerous law enforcement agencies were taking part in the third day of the search of farmland in Solebury Township, about 30 miles (48 kilometers) north of Philadelphia. The missing are 22-year-old Mark Sturgis, 21-year-old Tom Meo, 19-year-old Dean Finocchiaro, and 19-year-old Jimi Tar Patrick, a student at Loyola University in Baltimore.
Patrick disappeared on Wednesday, the other three on Friday.
“We are going through it with the equivalent of a fine-tooth comb,” Weintraub said of the 90-acre property where authorities have centered their investigation.
DiNardo’s lawyer and parents could not be reached for comment.
Weintraub said it remains unclear what relationship the missing men have with each other as he urged the public to disclose any relevant information. Sturgis’ father has said that his son and Meo are longtime friends who work in construction for him. He said Finocchiaro is a mutual friend of theirs.
The FBI, Pennsylvania state police and five local law enforcement agencies have joined the case, Weintraub said.
This story has been corrected to show DiNardo’s commitment was involuntary, not voluntary.