Imagine the pain the families of four young men shot dead, burned, and buried on a property in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, are going through right now.
Nothing can prepare a family for the moment when police officers knock on the door to confirm a loved one's death. If you've never had to experience that door knock, consider yourself blessed. I can tell you from personal experience, it haunts you for life.
The victims are identified as: Dean Finocchario, 19; Thomas Meo, 21; Mark Sturgis, 22; and Jimi Patrick, 19. Their families had reported them missing on separate days the week before, and from there the investigation took off. This case is a perfect example of how crucial it is for investigators to reach out to the media when dealing with a missing person case, and for the media to respond, especially in those first few hours. Otherwise, how can the public be expected to come forward with information if they don't even know someone's disappeared?
Bucks County District Attorney, Matthew Weintraub, was front and center from the start of this investigation, holding multiple news conferences and encouraging the public to come forward with tips. Pictures of the victims appeared on every news channel--local and national--as well as online.
The public responded by providing crucial information to investigators. As a result of those efforts from the public, the media, and most of all due to outstanding police work, this case resulted in the arrest of cousins, Cosmo DiNardo, 20, and Sean Kratz, 20.
According to the probable cause affidavit, all four bodies were found on a property belonging to DiNardo's parents. Three of the bodies were buried in a 12-foot-deep common grave, the fourth was buried in a shallow grave not far from the others. In exchange for his confession to the killings, DiNardo won't face the death penalty. Both men are being held without bond.
As I watched this case unfold, I couldn't help but think about Janteyl Johnson. What if Janteyl and her baby had received the same attention and media coverage? Or even a quarter of the coverage this case generated? Chances are maybe their disappearance would be solved by now.
Although heart-wrenching, at least the victims in the Bucks County case will be returned to their families, and justice will soon prevail. Thank goodness the four young men weren't dismissed as just runaways or troubled youth. The chilling details of their deaths, allegedly over drug deals gone wrong, will haunt their families and the community for years to come.
But at least the families have answers, and their sons' cases will not go unsolved. Their case files won't sit somewhere collecting dust. Most important, the parents won't have to live with the not knowing as so many families of missing loved ones do, especially when the missing persons are minorities. Many of those cases don't get any media coverage at all.