Find Madalina: Investigators remove several items from home of missing 11-year-old Cornelius girl

CORNELIUS, N.C. — Investigators in Cornelius returned to the home of a missing 11-year-old girl Wednesday night and removed several items.

Officers were seen going in and out of Madalina Cojocari’s home at about 5 p.m.


Investigators left the home carrying small paper bags, at least one box and a large, black plastic bag. They left at about 8 p.m.

Police have not said what brought them back to the home.

Madalina has not been seen publicly for a month.

On Nov. 21, Madalina got off a school bus in Cornelius, which was the last time police said anyone saw her, except for her parent.

Channel 9 learned Wednesday that Madalina’s mother told police she believes her husband put the family in danger.

Court documents Channel 9 obtained Wednesday said Madalina’s mother called her family in Moldova in eastern Europe.

The mother, Diana Cojocari, told them her daughter was missing.

The desperate search for Madalina is ongoing.

Cojocari, and Madalina’s stepfather, Christopher Palmiter, are charged with failing to report a missing child.

Cojocari told detectives “she believed her husband put her family in danger but did not know what happened to Madalina,” according to court documents.

A school counselor and resource officer went to Madalina’s home on Dec. 12 to talk with her parents since she’d been absent since Nov. 21, according to court documents. Nobody answered so a truancy packet was left at the door.

On Dec. 14, the school counselor contacted Cojocari, who said she’d bring Madalina to school the next day to talk about the truancy. On Dec. 15, court documents said Cojocari arrived at the school without Madalina.

During that meeting, Cojacari said Madalina had been missing since Nov. 23.

Cojocari said she got into an argument with Palmiter that night. The next morning, Palmiter drove to his family’s house in Michigan to recover some items, according to the court documents.

Madalina’s mother told police she waited until Nov. 26 until her husband returned from Michigan before asking if he knew where her daughter was.

Channel 9 was told the FBI office in Michigan is assisting with this investigation.

New court documents didn’t specify when, but at some point, Cojocari called her family back in Moldova to tell them Madalina was missing. That was when her family told her to call the police, but she didn’t.

Detectives said when they searched Madalina’s home before Wednesday, they noticed an area blocked with plywood by the kitchen. When asked what it was, Palmiter told police he was planning to build a separate apartment.

Court documents also said Madalina’s mother told police her daughter didn’t have a phone. However, her backpack and some clothes were missing from her house.

Cojocari also told detectives Madalina didn’t have friends or family she’d likely be staying with since she was from Moldova.

Cornelius business owners, including Dori Rice said Tuesday’s vigil to pray for Madalina’s safe return shows how much the case has impacted the town.

“We certainly know that we can count on each other to help each other in bad situations,” Rice said. “It’s a horrible silver lining.”

A community impacted

Neighbors have been trying to help find Madalina.

“I know quite a few people have asked to put together search parties and things like that, but the police and everybody have told us to let them handle it,” Rice said.

Businesses have been posting the FBI missing person poster with Madalina’s picture

The FBI missing person poster with Madalina’s picture is popping up in windows along Main Street and Old Statesville Road in Cornelius.

Rice expects more businesses to display the FBI’s poster.

“I think all of us are starting to get mobilized on that, so I think in the next little bit you’re going to see more pictures out,” Rice said.

Ann Glaser with Pat’s Place Child Advocacy Center in Charlotte said this is a tragic case and asks everyone to know the signs to look for when a child may be in crisis.

“(People should) be watching for changes in behavior, someone being more sullen,” Glaser said. “Someone being unkempt. Someone who seems fearful or maybe sleeping more or really tired.”

VIDEO: School bus video shows last time missing 11-year-old Cornelius girl was seen, police say

Jonathan Lowe

Jonathan Lowe, wsoctv.com

Jonathan is a reporter for WSOC-TV.