CORNELIUS, N.C. — In her arrest report, Madalina Cojocari’s mother said she didn’t call the police when she noticed her 11-year-old daughter was missing, despite her family urging her to.
Madalina’s mother and stepfather said they last saw her on Nov. 23, but her mother didn’t report her missing until Dec. 15.
Diana Cojocari also told a detective she believed her husband put her family in danger, but did not know what happened to Madalina. She said she contacted her family when she realized Madalina was missing. She said they recommended she call the police but she still hesitated to call.
- ‘Pray together and hope’: Vigil held for Madalina Cojocari, missing Cornelius girl
- FBI, police search for 11-year-old; mom, stepdad accused of not reporting disappearance
She said Madalina didn’t have a phone, and that her backpack and some clothes were missing from the home. Cojocari said Madalina didn’t have any friends she would be staying with, and they didn’t have any nearby family because Cojocari is from Moldova, which is in eastern Europe.
Detectives went to the home to search Madalina’s room, and according to the report, both Christopher Palmiter, her stepfather, and Diana Cojocari were adamant they didn’t know where Madalina was.
While at the home, the detective noticed an area blocked off with plywood in the kitchen. When asked, Palmiter said it was because they planned to make a separate apartment.
The detective wrote they had probable cause for arresting both Palmiter and Cojocari because of the circumstances surrounding Madalina’s disappearance and the three-week delay in reporting Madalina missing.
The search to #FindMadalina continues. Her case is featured on https://t.co/g53tqBM1Br as the "Most Wanted: Case of the Week." Please share the poster and if you have information to help find her, call the Cornelius Police Department at 704-892-7773 or 1-800-Call FBI. pic.twitter.com/yr584yM0HZ— Cornelius Police Department (@CorneliusPD) December 21, 2022
Police: School bus video shows last time Madalina was seen
Authorities released surveillance video on Tuesday. They said it independently confirms when the missing Cornelius girl was last seen.
A vigil was also held as the FBI in Michigan and North Carolina, the State Bureau of Investigation and the Cornelius Police Department continue to investigate the disappearance of Madalina Cojocari.
The video authorities released shows Madalina getting off a school bus at her bus stop at 4:59 p.m. on Nov. 21.
>>WATCH the video footage below:
On Tuesday, Channel 9 obtained the arrest report for Christopher Palmiter, Madalina Cojocari’s stepfather. For the first time, it revealed details in the timeline of how Madalina was reported missing.
The events in the report were described as follows:
- Nov. 16: Christopher Palmiter said he said he believed the last time he saw Madalina was a week before his trip -- a date that fell on Nov. 16.
- Nov. 21: Madalina was seen on surveillance video getting off the bus at 4:59 p.m. at her bus stop.
- Nov. 23: Diana Cojocari told a school resource officer on Dec. 15 that Madalina went into her room that night to go to bed. Cojocari said she and her husband, Christopher Palmiter, argued that night.
- Nov. 24 (Thanksgiving): Cojocari said Palmiter drove to his family’s house in Michigan the next morning to “recover some items.” Palmiter confirmed the same information to investigators. Cojocari said she went to check on Madalina around 11:30 a.m. that day and noticed Madalina was not in her room.
- Nov. 26: Cojocari said she waited until Nov. 26 at 7 p.m., when Palmiter returned home, before asking if he knew where Madalina was. He said he did not know and asked her the same thing. Palmiter said he asked Cojocari if she had hidden Madalina and she said she asked the same -- both said no. He didn’t report her missing to the police at that time.
- Nov. 26 through the next three weeks: Palmiter said he spoke with Cojocari several times about Madalina’s whereabouts over the next three weeks. They both said they didn’t know where Madalina was, but they didn’t report her missing to police.
- Dec. 12: A school resource officer at Bailey Middle School tried to make a home visit for Madalina with the sixth grade school counselor. The counselor said Madalina hadn’t been to school since Nov. 21. No one answered the door and they left a truancy packet at the home.
- Dec. 14: The counselor said Diana Cojocari called her for a meeting about Madalina. She said Cojocari told her she’d bring Madalina to school on Dec. 15 and they’d meet about the truancy.
- Dec. 15: Cojocari arrived without Madalina and met the counselor. The counselor requested the SRO step into meeting as well. When he arrived, Cojocari said Madalina had been missing since Nov. 23. According to the arrest report, when asked why she didn’t report Madalina missing until that day, Cojocari said she was worried it might start a “conflict” between her and Palmiter.
- Dec. 15: Palmiter confirmed the information that Cojocari said: He left for Michigan on Nov. 23 but didn’t see Madalina the day he left. He returned home on Nov. 26 and said he asked Cojocari where Madalina was. Neither of them knew.
The FBI is helping the Cornelius Police Department with its search for Madalina. Her mother and stepfather have been arrested in connection to her disappearance. Both were charged with failure to report the disappearance of a child to law enforcement.
Retired FBI Assistant Director Chris Swecker, who is not involved in the case, said the statements give the kinds of inconsistency detectives are looking for.
PRESS RELEASE - Update on Missing Juvenile— Cornelius Police Department (@CorneliusPD) December 20, 2022
Please use the following link to view the video - https://t.co/QYJNWQF15C pic.twitter.com/4LEvMkXx2T
“(Investigators) can play one parent off the other parent,” Swecker said. “I don’t know a lot about these parents but you can test, at least what they are reporting and the circumstances of her being missing, and compare the two by separating the two and really grilling them. If they have not invoked their right to council.”
Ann Glaser with Pat’s Place Child Advocacy Center said it’s a tragic case, and asked everyone to know the signs to look for when a kid may be in crisis.
“Be watching for changes in behavior, someone being more sullen, someone being unkempt, someone who seems fearful, or may be sleeping more or real tired,” she said. “Know people’s routines and keep an eye on one another.”
Both Cojocari and Palmiter are being held at the Mecklenburg County jail.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.
(WATCH BELOW: Arrest report: Mom, stepdad say missing girl last seen before couple had fight)
©2022 Cox Media Group