When Suzi Drake remembers Dean Finocchiaro, a former student of hers, she remembers someone who wasn’t interested in being cooped up in a classroom. He would rather be outside, riding an ATV.
According to his social media posts and posts made by friends, Finocchiaro, 19, of Langhorne, was an avid quad biker.
“He had a sweetness about him,” said Drake, who teaches 11th grade English at Neshaminy High School in Langhorne. “He had a lot of friends. He was a well-liked kid, despite choices that were made.”
Finocchiaro is one of the four Bucks County men who have been missing since last week. Late Wednesday night, Bucks County District Attorney Scott Weintraub announced that they had found Finocchiaro’s remains in a 12.5-foot-deep common grave on a 90-acre farm in Solebury Township.
The DA said that foul play is suspected and Cosmo DiNardo, 20, of Bensalem, is currently a “person of interest.” His family owns the property where Finocchiaro was found. He is being held on $5 million cash bail for attempting to sell a car owned by Tom Meo, 21, of Plumstead Township, another of the four missing men.
The two other missing men are Jimi Tar Patrick, 19, of Newtown, and Mark Sturgis, 22, of Pennsburg in Montgomery County.
The DA added that other bodies were found in the grave but have yet to be identified. Weintraub said he felt “comfortable” classifying Finocchiaro’s death as a homicide during a midnight press conference on Thursday.
Finocchiaro graduated this past June from Neshaminy High School.
“He was a mischievous kid,” Drake said of Finocchiaro. “Sometimes we would butt heads a little bit because English was not his favorite subject.”
Drake said she could remember him getting into trouble with the police for dirt biking near the train tracks in Langhorne. She said it earned him a reputation among other students.
“They thought it was hysterical that he outran the police on his quad in Langhorne Manor,” she said.
Julia Frasch, a student at West Chester University, is a former friend of Meo. Frasch had met Sturgis, a few times because he and Meo worked together at Sturgis’s father’s construction business.
“It wasn’t like they were bad kids at all,” said Frasch, who added that Meo enjoys music and worked hard at his jobs. “I feel like you can tell when a kid is bad or good and when they were mixed up in the wrong things.”
After seeing online that Finocchiaro was missing, she reached out to a friend who knew the missing 19-year-old. The individual told her that Finocchiaro had been doing well and was working hard, but he didn’t think DiNardo, who Finocchiaro was hanging out with, had been a good influence.
Drake added that much of the community reaction has been of shock because Finocchiaro was “more mischievous than bad.” He would laugh a lot in her classroom and joke with classmates, she said, but when it came time for him to sit down and do schoolwork, he would do it.
She said Finocchiaro left Neshaminy for some time, but when he came back, he was much more focused. “His choices led him away from me for awhile and from Neshaminy, but he came back and was successful and that’s all we can hope for kids,” Drake said.
“I would see him in the halls and … on Fridays … after I see them in class, I always say: ‘Are you making good choices?'” Drake said. “And he would kind of smile at me and nod. He was. He was able to right his path.”
“[It’s] the surrealness of it, that this sort of thing doesn’t happen in Bucks County,” Drake said. “I am gonna be 50 years old. I’ve never seen such a widespread police investigation in my life here, and I have grown up in this community.”