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Crime News Missing Persons

North Carolina Police Accuse Parents Of Withholding Information About Missing 11-Year-Old Daughter

Madalina Cojocari was last publicly seen on Nov. 21 getting off the school bus, but her mother and stepfather didn't report her missing until Dec. 15, Cornelius police said.

By Caitlin Schunn
Missing North Carolina Girl Last Seen Getting Off School Bus

North Carolina police allege the parents of a missing 11-year-old girl are withholding information about her disappearance, in a new video posted on social media by the Cornelius Police Department on Tuesday.

“We know everyone has questions,” Capt. Jennifer Thompson said. “We also have a lot of questions, and are doing everything we can, with proper legal authority, to get those answers. This is a serious case of a child whose parents clearly are not telling us everything they know.”

Madalina Cojocari’s mother, Diana, told school officials in an arrest warrant obtained by Law and Crime the child was last seen at noon on Nov. 22. She waited until Dec. 15 to report her missing to a school resource officer at Bailey Middle School, where the girl attended.

“One of the challenges in this case, simply put — we were not notified she was gone — a delay of three weeks,” Thompson said.

RELATED: Last Credible Sighting Of Missing North Carolina 11-Year-Old Was Video Showing Her Getting Off School Bus, Police Say

Police said school officials repeatedly tried to contact Madalina’s parents in those three weeks. A middle school resource officer attempted a home visit to Madalina’s home on Victoria Bay Drive at 2 p.m. on Dec. 12, after a 6th grade counselor reported Madalina had not been seen in school since Nov. 21, but there was no answer at the door, according to the arrest warrant.

The school said Diana Cojocari called to request a meeting on Dec. 15 and said she would bring the child to school. But that day, Cojocari arrived without Madalina, according to the warrant.

A police handout of missing girl Madalina Cojocari

Cojocari then told school resource officers she last saw Madalina around 10 p.m. on Nov. 23, as Madalina went to her room to go to bed, according to the arrest warrant. The following morning, around 11:30 a.m., Cojocari said she went to check on her daughter but didn't find her in the bedroom.

Diana’s husband and Madalina’s stepfather, Chris Palmiter, told police the last time he saw her was a week before he made a trip to Michigan on Nov. 23 to pick up some items. According to the arrest sheet, Palmiter  told police that he and Cojocari had gotten into an argument on the night of Nov. 23, and he left to retrieve items from his family's home in Michigan. 

While Cojocari was unable to locate her daughter, she waited until Palmiter returned to ask him if he knew where Madalina had gone. Though neither knew of her whereabouts, the arrest sheet states they didn't report her missing to police.

Cojocari, 37, and Palmiter, 60, were both arrested on Dec. 17 for failure to report the disappearance of a child to law enforcement, according to previous Oxygen.com reporting. Both were scheduled to appear in Mecklenburg County Court today, according to the North Carolina Judicial Branch website.

The arrest sheet also stated that Cojocari told investigators that she didn't escalate the situation further because "she was worried it might start a 'conflict' between her and Christopher."

In the police update Tuesday, Thompson said investigators have followed nearly 250 leads, interviewed hundreds of people, and gone door to door to more than 245 homes in Madalina’s neighborhood in efforts to find her. Thompson added police have canvassed businesses and searched through hours of surveillance. Police also conducted land and water searches around Lake Cornelius.

On Dec. 19, the department urged everyone to flood the area with Madalina’s picture and print the FBI missing poster and hang it outside their homes and businesses.

Surveillance video released by police on Dec. 20 shows Madalina getting off the school bus with her peers at her regular stop just before 5 p.m. on Nov. 21. It’s the last confirmed public sighting of the 11-year-old, according to previous Oxygen.com reporting.

The Cornelius police department shared on Dec. 23 that its partners at Adams Outdoor Advertising donated space with Madalina’s picture on digital billboards across Charlotte to help in the search. 

Both the FBI and the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation are helping Cornelius Police with the investigation.

Madalina is described as a white female weighing about 90 pounds; she was last seen wearing jeans, pink, purple and white Adidas shoes, and a white T-shirt and jacket. She has brown hair and brown eyes. 

If you have any information on her disappearance, call the Cornelius Police Dept. at 704-892-7773 or 1-800-CALL FBI.

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