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Police in North Carolina have suggested that the mother and stepfather of missing 11-year-old girl Madalina Cojocari know more than they have been letting on to law enforcement.
“This is a serious case of a child whose parents clearly are not telling us everything they know,” Capt. Jennifer Thompson of the Cornelius Police Department said in a statement released Tuesday.
Mother Diana Cojocari and stepfather Christopher Palmiter were previously arrested for allegedly failing to report Madalina missing. The 11-year-old last went to school in Cornelius, North Carolina, on Nov. 21, authorities have said. As seen on school bus footage, she stepped off the vehicle that day at 4:59 p.m.
Authorities have said that school officials tried to contact her parents about her missing school. A school resource officer and a school counselor both visited the family home on Dec. 12, but no one answered, according to an arrest sheet in the case. The counselor on Dec. 14 asked Diana Cojocari to have a meeting at the school on the 15th and asked her to bring Madalina along, authorities said.
Diana, however, arrived for the meeting without her daughter, and instead told school officials her daughter had been missing since Nov. 23, according to the arrest sheet.
She allegedly said she and her husband, Christopher Palmiter, argued that night and that he drove off the next day — Nov. 24, Thanksgiving — to his family’s home in Michigan to get some things. Diana allegedly said she discovered that her daughter was not in her room that same morning.
“Diana Cojocari stated she waited until Saturday, November 26th at 1900 hours, when Christopher Palmiter returned home before asking if he knew where Madalina was,” officers said.
Palmiter claimed not to know, and he asked Diana the same question, defendant Cojocari allegedly said.
“I [the affiant] asked Diana why she did not report Madalina missing until now,” authorities said. “Diana stated she was worried it might start a ‘conflict’ between her and Christopher.”
Palmiter said he left home for Michigan on Nov. 23 to pick up some things. He said he did not see Madalina the day he left and he believed that the last time he saw her was a week before his trip, officers said.
He allegedly returned home on Nov. 26, and asked his wife Diana about Madalina’s whereabouts. Diana said he did not know.
“Chris stated that he asked Diana if she had hidden Madalina and Diana asked Chris if he had hidden Madalina and they both said no,” authorities said.
The couple allegedly did not contact cops to report the child missing, even after they both spoke about her being gone.
“Chris stated he spoke with Diana several times about Madalina’s whereabouts over the next three weeks and both stated that they did not know where she was, but they did not contact the police to report Madalina missing,” officers said.
Authorities have described Madalina as white and weighing approximately 90 pounds. They have previously said she was last seen wearing jeans, Adidas shoes that were pink, purple, and white, and a white T-shirt and jacket, officers said.
Earlier this week, we told you Madalina loves horses. You can see the pure joy she feels when she takes her plastic ponies to the beach. And she enjoys riding the real pony named Rayne. Call the Cornelius Police Department at 704-892-7773 if you can help #FindMadalina. pic.twitter.com/TrvClhRZQe
— FBI Charlotte (@FBICharlotte) December 23, 2022
11-year-old Madalina Cojocari was reported missing on 12-15-22. The 6th grade middle school student loves horses & you can see how happy she is to have a big bowl of ice cream. If you have information, call the @CorneliusPD at 704-892-7773 or 1-800- CALL FBI. #FindMadalina pic.twitter.com/fgk1BAVpm4
— FBI Charlotte (@FBICharlotte) December 18, 2022
Authorities on Thursday released a handwritten letter attributed to the child’s “family,” though investigators did not name them as individuals.
“We, as a family, are devastated and absolutely heartbroken to learn that Madalina is missing,” the family said. “We love Madalina and are shocked by these circumstances. This is something no child or family should ever have to endure. Our family is doing everything we know to do to support the efforts to find Madalina and bring her home. We are and continue to have hope and positivity in this difficult time and pray that she is found safe very soon.”
We want to share a personal, handwritten message with you from Madalina’s family. Please read it & put yourself in their shoes. They ask for your positive thoughts, continued support, & information to help #FindMadalina. Call the @CorneliusPD at 704-892-7773. pic.twitter.com/KsHk9QXvyM
— Cornelius Police Department (@CorneliusPD) December 22, 2022
“Madalina is a beautiful, smart, kind, and loving 11-year-old girl with greatness in her future,” they wrote. “We are desperate to find her right now. She needs all of our help. We ask for your continued, positive support in sharing far and wide the posters and pictures of Madalina.”
[Mugshots via Mecklenburg County Detention Center; image of Madalina via FBI]
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