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FBI joins farm search for 4 missing men; foul play feared

Written by MaryClaire Dale and Anthony Izaguirre/Associated Press | Jul 10, 2017 4:21 PM
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(Philadelphia) -- Authorities are chasing fast-developing leads in the search for four young men feared to be the victims of foul play, but said Monday that it could take days despite intense efforts centered on a large swath of farmland.

"The leads are incredibly hot, they're very fruitful. We're making great progress, but there's so much more work to do," Bucks County District Attorney Matthew Weintraub said at an afternoon news conference, his second of the day. "We're not going to rest until we get through every inch of that property."

The leads gave police "a lot of strong indications" that the search should focus on the farm. However, other spots were also being searched as police investigated the ties among the men.

One man vanished Wednesday and three others on Friday. Asked if foul play was involved, Weintraub said, "I surely believe there is."

Two of the men, 22-year-old Mark Sturgis and 21-year-old Tom Meo, are longtime friends who work in construction for Sturgis' father, Mark Potash. Another man, 19-year-old Dean Finocchiaro, is a mutual friend of theirs, Potash told The Associated Press.

Potash said he did not know where his son was heading or what he was doing before he disappeared Friday. News outlets have reported that cars belonging to both Potash and Meo have been found in the area.

"I don't know how this is going to end up, unfortunately, but I am confident that we are going to get to the bottom of this," Weintraub said.

Sturgis lives in Pennsburg, Meo in Plumstead, Finocchiaro in Middletown and 19-year-old Jimi Tar Patrick in Newtown Township. Finocchiaro has been arrested multiple times on charges that include drug possession, driving under the influence and assault.

Weintraub described the investigation as "all hands on deck," and said the FBI, state police and five local police departments had joined the case. The FBI was involved because of its expertise with recovery operations being deployed in the farm fields in Solebury Township, about 30 miles north of Philadelphia.

An earlier story appears below. 

(Doylestown) -- Authorities in suburban Philadelphia say they are chasing "incredibly hot" leads in the search for four missing young men, but say it could take days to solve the case.

Bucks County District Attorney Matthew Weintraub says the FBI has joined the search for evidence because of their expertise in recovery operations at the primary search site.

Weintraub believes foul play is involved, but hopes the young men are still alive. He compares the search effort to finding "needles in a haystack."

The FBI is the seventh law enforcement involved in the case. Investigators have brought heavy equipment into farmland in the area about 30 miles north of Philadelphia.

Officials say one man disappeared Wednesday and three others Friday.

Weintraub identifies them as 22-year-old Mark Sturgis, of Pennsburg; 21-year-old Tom Meo, of Plumstead; 19-year-old Dean Finocchiaro, of Middletown; and 19-year-old Jimi Tar Patrick, of Newtown Township.

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