BALTIMORE (WJZ/AP) — A person of interest is back in custody in the mysterious disappearance of four men, including a Baltimore college student.
An intense search involving state and local police, FBI agents and U.S. Marshals has been underway on a large piece of farmland about 30 miles outside of Philadelphia in Solebury, Pennsylvania, which is in Bucks County.
Wednesday is the fourth day that authorities have been looking for clues about the disappearances of 22-year-old Mark Sturgis, 21-year-old Tom Meo, 19-year-old Dean Finocchiaro and 19-year-old Jimi Tar Patrick, who attends Loyola University.
They are believed to be the victims of foul play. Patrick disappeared last Wednesday; the other three vanished Friday.
Police have named the son of the farm property’s owners, 20-year-old Cosmo DiNardo, as a person of interest in the disappearances. He was arrested on an unrelated gun charge and released on a $1 million bond Tuesday.
On Wednesday, he was taken back into custody for allegedly stealing a car belonging to Meo. Bucks County District Attorney Matthew Weintraub said DiNardo tried to sell the car for $500.
The car had Meo’s diabetic kit inside, a kit his family says he needs to survive.
According to a police affidavit, police found Meo’s car Sunday on a DiNardo family property in Solebury, the town where the farm is also located. They said the keys and a title were hanging up in a garage. A witness said DiNardo offered to sell him the car on Saturday.
On the last night Meo and Sturgis were seen, a police license plate scanner picked up DiNardo’s truck and Meo’s car driving just seconds apart. The location was within a couple of miles from where Meo’s car was found and where Sturgis’ vehicle was discovered, a short distance away.
Authorities say they have recovered “important pieces of evidence” from the farm at this point. A ping from one of the men’s cell phones is what led them to search the land.
“It’s 90 some acres, and we’re going through it with the equivalent of a fine-toothed comb,” Weintraub said.
Aerial footage showed investigators crowded around a deep trench dug up with a backhoe as officers gathered up dirt and ran it through sifters on Tuesday.
Cadaver dogs have also been brought in, but no human remains have been found on the farm.
Investigators are holding out hope that the missing men are still alive.
“I have hope,” Weintraub said. “I think that it’s very important to hang on to hope until there is no room left for it.”
“The search at the scene is really intensifying,” Weintraub said late Wednesday upon announcing the arrest. “I’m very encouraged … that we’re going to get some finality in this just prolonged ordeal.”
People poured into the chapel at Loyola University Wednesday to pray for Patrick.
The 19-year-old just finished his freshman year. He went back home to Pennsylvania, and then vanished last week.
Loyola’s president, Father Brian Linnane, praised him at the service.
“He is poised for great success at Loyola,” he said. “Dean’s list student, no conduct issues.”
Friends and classmates refuse to give up hope that he will be found alive.
One student WJZ spoke with was one of the last to see him alive.
“We’re scared,” he said. “We want to know something.”
Loyola University has counseling available for students impacted by the situation.
Officials have not said if all the missing men knew each other, or DiNardo.
DiNardo, who police say has a history of mental health issues, lists Patrick as a friend on Facebook. Sturgis and Meo are close friends.
DiNardo bail is set at $5 million this time around.