Parents of missing 11-year-old Madalina Cojocari ‘clearly’ not telling everything they know, police say

Investigators say the parents of missing 11-year-old Madalina Cojocari are “clearly” not telling police everything they know, as more than a month has passed since the girl was seen for the last time.

Cornelius Police Captain Jennifer Thompson provided an update on the case in a video statement posted to Facebook on Tuesday, hours before Madalina’s mother and stepfather were due in court.

“We know everyone has a lot of questions. We also have questions and are doing everything we can, with the proper legal authority, to get those answers,” she said.

“This is a serious case of a child whose parents are clearly not telling us everything they know.”

Madalina was last seen on Nov. 21 when surveillance footage captured her getting off a school bus at her home in Cornelius, North Carolina.

Over the next three weeks, staff at Bailey Middle School contacted her mother Diana Cojocari to find out where she was when she failed to show up for class.

Finally, on December 15, Ms. Cojocari went to campus and told a school resource officer that her daughter was missing. School officials then alerted law enforcement, sparking a huge manhunt for the 11-year-old girl.

Now, nearly two weeks into the investigation, the girl’s whereabouts remain unknown and her mother, Ms Cojocari, 37, and stepfather Christopher Palmiter, 60, are behind bars – each charged with one count of failing to report the disappearance of a child to law enforcement.

The two suspects were due to appear in Mecklenburg County Court on Wednesday morning.

In Tuesday’s video statement, Captain Thompson said the three-week delay in which police were notified of Madalina’s disappearance had investigators on their toes from the start.

“One of the challenges in this case is just that we weren’t told he was leaving – a three week delay,” she said.

In the 12 days since law enforcement launched a “massive investigation” to locate Madalina, more than 100 personnel from the Cornelius Police Department, FBI and SBI have been assigned to the case.

The police captain said these investigators have so far followed more than 250 leads spanning both state lines and the world, conducted 100 interviews with individuals in North Carolina and beyond, and made door-to-door to approximately 245 homes and businesses in the Victoria Bay area around Madalina’s home.

Investigators also “scoured” hours of surveillance video from local businesses and conducted land and water searches around nearby Lake Cornelius, she said.

Madalina Cojocari has not been seen for over a month

(Cornelius PD)

Several search warrants were also obtained and executed at Madalina’s home.

Since their arrest on December 17, Madalina’s parents have continued to insist they do not know where the 11-year-old went or what happened to her.

Both Ms. Cojocari and Mr. Palmitter claim to have last seen Madalina on November 23.

Investigators have been unable to verify this claim, with the last confirmed sighting of the 11-year-old taking place two days earlier when she was spotted in surveillance footage getting off her school bus to its shutdown at 4:59 p.m. on November 21.

Court documents obtained by WBTV reveal that Madalina’s mother told investigators she last saw her daughter around 10 p.m. on November 23, when Madalina went to her bedroom to go to bed.

Ms Cojocari claims she and her husband had a fight that night and the next morning he drove to his family’s home in Michigan, according to the arrest warrant.

When she then went to see her daughter around 11.30am on November 24, Ms Cojocari claims she found her missing.

The arrest warrant says Ms Cojocari told investigators she then waited until Mr Palmitter returned home – two days later on the evening of November 26 – to ask him if he knew where Madalina was.

When asked why she hadn’t reported her daughter missing until mid-December, she “stated that she was concerned it would spark a ‘conflict’ between her and Christopher,” the warrant states.

Diana Cojocari, 37, and Christopher Palmiter, 60, photographed in mugshots

(Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office)

Ms Cojocari also claimed she believed her husband had “put his family at risk”. It is unclear what she meant by this statement.

Meanwhile, Mr Palmiter also told investigators he did not know what happened to his daughter-in-law, saying he had returned from his three-day trip and asked his wife where Madalina was. .

Over the next three weeks, he claims to have spoken with Ms Cojocari ”several times[s] on Madalina’s whereabouts[s] …and both said they did not know her whereabouts but did not contact the police to report Madalina missing”.

Several questions remain over why it took parents a staggering 22 days to report Madalina missing, with the missing child’s ‘shocked’ family members saying they were ‘devastated and absolutely heartbroken’ by her disappearance.

In a handwritten note shared by Cornelius Police last week, the unnamed relatives said they remained “hopeful and positivity” that the girl would still be found safe.

“We, as a family, are devastated and absolutely heartbroken to learn that Madalina is missing,” the note read.

“We love Madalina and are shocked by these circumstances. It is something no child or family should ever have to endure.

The note goes on to say that the family is doing everything possible to find Madalina and “bring her home”.

“Madalina is a beautiful, smart, kind and loving 11-year-old girl with greatness in her future,” he says.

“We are desperate to find her right now, she needs ALL of our help.”

It’s unclear which family member wrote the heartbreaking note, but an FBI official confirmed to WBTV that it was not Madalina’s mother or stepfather.

Several searches were carried out at the family home, with search parties spotted digging in the backyard.

Madalina’s family shared this handwritten note

(Cornelius PD)

Madalina’s family wrote that they were heartbroken by her disappearance

(Cornelius PD)

Inside the property, officials found a secret area in the kitchen blocked off with plywood, according to court documents.

When asked about it, Mr Palmiter reportedly told investigators he had planned to create a separate apartment in the space.

It is unclear whether search teams removed the boards and walked through this particular area of ​​the property.

A neighbor told a local outlet WCCB that the girl’s disappearance shocked the neighborhood.

“I’ve lived here all my life, so I’ve never seen anything like it,” Sydney Capps said. “It’s strange that it seems she disappeared in November, and it was just reported.”

Madalina was last seen wearing jeans, pink, purple and white Adidas shoes and a white t-shirt and jacket.

She is described as having brown hair and brown eyes, being 4ft 10in tall and weighing around 90lbs.

Anyone with information about Madalina’s whereabouts is asked to call the Cornelius Police Department at 704-892-7773.

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