Warrants: Madalina Cojocari’s mom asked relative to help ‘smuggle’ them 

CORNELIUS, N.C. — The mother of a missing 11-year-old Cornelius girl asked a relative to help smuggle them, according to newly released warrants.

Madalina Cojocari was seen walking off a school bus on Nov. 21, 2022. Her mother, Diana Cojocari, last saw her at their Cornelius home on Nov. 23, but her mother didn’t report her missing until Dec. 15 -- 22 days later.

In a search warrant dated Feb. 14, investigators said they interviewed one of Diana Cojocari’s distant relatives. He said Diana and her mother asked him if he would help Diana with “smuggling” her and Madalina away from the home. The relative said Diana told him she was in a “bad relationship” with her husband, Christopher Palmiter, and wanted a divorce.


Police said on Feb. 10, Cornelius detectives and North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation agents reviewed Diana Cojocari’s phone records. They discovered she had extensive communication on Dec. 2 with that relative who police interviewed.

Investigators said they reviewed the relative’s phone records as well and found “multiple calls to phone numbers belonging to unidentified targets involved in ongoing T3 drug/narcotic trafficking investigations.”

“T3″ or “TIII” in this context means wiretap, Channel 9 has learned.

Police said they used an SBI K-9 to sniff around a Green 2008 Toyota Prius belonging to Diana Cojocari. The K-9 alerted investigators to the driver’s side door of the car on Feb. 10. Police said the dog is “trained to alert any and all narcotics.”

The detective who applied for the warrant said she believed a search of the home might find drugs and/or money, which could help lead to information about Madalina’s disappearance.


The second warrant was an application dated Feb. 13 to search Diana Cojocari’s car, which is being held in a secure location by the Cornelius Police Department. The second warrant specified that the detective believed the car “may hold physical evidence of narcotics, drug paraphernalia, and/or evidence of trafficking.”

Authorities seized the following items from the car:

  1. Moldova Agroindbank debit card belonging to D.Cojocari found in center console
  2. Madalina Cojocari Romanian and Moldovan passports found in center console
  3. Diana Cojocari Romanian Passport found in center console
  4. Miscellaneous education certificates and work documents found in center console

No further information was included in the warrants.

The search for Madalina expanded into western North Carolina on Jan 6. Law enforcement sources told Channel 9 they came in contact with Diana Cojocari in a rural part of Madison County. A deputy came in contact with Cojocari at a pull-off area on U.S. Highway 25 near Lonesome Mountain Road, sources said.

Cornelius police said Madalina’s mother, Diana Cojocari, made a trip to Madison County in the weeks between when Madalina was last seen and the day she was reported missing.

In January, Diana Cojocari and Christopher Palmiter each were indicted by a grand jury on the charge of failing to report the disappearance of a child to law enforcement.

(WATCH PREVIOUS BELOW: Law enforcement returns to home of missing Cornelius girl Madalina Cojocari)