BURKE COUNTY, N.C. — Channel 9 has learned a private investigator is questioning people in Burke County in the search for missing Cornelius girl Madalina Cojocari.
Video shows Madalina getting off her school bus on Nov. 21, which is the day investigators say she was last seen at Bailey Middle School.
Channel 9′s Dave Faherty spoke to a woman who contacted the sheriff about the private investigator. He was spotted in the Oak Hill community north of Morganton. Deputies said one off the encounters happened along Tellis Lane, and the other was on Spainhour Road.
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The Burke County sheriff said they’ve had two reports of the private investigator asking about the case, even showing a missing person flyer of Madalina.
For more than five months now, police in Cornelius have been asking for the public’s help in finding Madalina, who was 11 when she disappeared. Though she was last seen before Thanksgiving, police said her parents waited more than three weeks to report her missing in mid-December. Both Diana Cojocari and Christopher Palmiter are in jail and charged with failure to report a missing child.
Now, we’re learning that a private investigator has been spotted twice in Burke County this month asking people if they’ve seen Madalina.
Faherty spoke to a witness by phone on Tuesday. She said the man pulled up in an SUV and claimed he was a private investigator working the case.
“He rolled down his window and said that he was a private investigator, and asked me if I had seen this girl, and showed me the missing persons flyer,” she said. “I had asked him if she had been seen on that road specifically, and he said no, just in the area.”
It isn’t the first time Channel 9 has heard a private investigator is working the case.
Burke Co- the sheriffs office says it has stepped up patrols in the Oak Hill community after two reports of a private investigator asking folks about the Madalina Cojocari case. Hear from one of those eyewitnesses today on channel 9 eyewitness news at 5:30. pic.twitter.com/sbjEr6UAz3— Dave Faherty (@FahertyWSOC9) May 23, 2023
Law enforcement sources confirmed to Channel 9 that Diana Cojocari was spotted asleep in her car two hours from Cornelius in Madison County the night of Dec. 4 into the early morning hours of Dec. 5. That was before she reported Madalina was missing. Deputies said Madalina was not in the car at that time.
After deputies and the State Bureau of Investigation searched the area, a store owner told Channel 9 a private investigator hired by the Cojocaris asked several questions about the case.
In Burke County, many of the people Faherty spoke with had questions of their own about why someone would be looking there.
“You would think they would be looking in Cornelius instead of coming out here in the middle of the woods,” said resident Chad Weisner.
“He must know something about her and what’s happened,” resident Lisa Honeycutt said.
The sheriff’s office said they reached out to Cornelius police and were told they had no information that Madalina was taken to the Burke County area. They have stepped up patrols in the area as a precaution.
(WATCH BELOW: Search for Madalina Cojocari continues six months after she was last seen)
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