Search Continues For North Carolina Girl Whose Parents Didn’t Report Her Missing For Weeks
11-year-old Madalina Cojocari was last seen getting off her school bus in November 2022.
The FBI is seeking information about the whereabouts of an 11-year-old girl in North Carolina last seen after school days before the Thanksgiving holiday in 2022.
Surveillance video recorded on a school bus on Nov. 21, 2022, shows Madalina, then 11, exiting near her home in Cornelius, but she hasn’t been seen since.
The child’s mother, Diana Cojocari, and stepfather, Christopher Palmiter, reported last having contact with her two days later, on Nov. 23, 2022, according to the FBI.
The girl, however, was only reported missing to her school the following month, on Dec. 15.
In a YouTube video posted to the FBI’s website, Cornelius Police Department Capt. Jennifer Thompson explains a school resource officer and counselor attempted to contact Madalina’s mother “due to a high number of absences.”
“After agreeing to bring Madalina to school, Diana Cojocari showed up alone, saying she didn’t know where her daughter was and hadn’t seen her since Nov. 23,” Thompson says, noting both the missing girl’s mother and stepfather have since been charged with failure to report the disappearance of a child to law enforcement.
According to an arrest report obtained by Inside Edition, Diana said she and Palmiter got into an argument the last night she claimed to have seen Madalina alive.
The next morning, the report reads, Palmiter “drove to his family's house in Michigan to recover some items.”
When the arresting officer asked Diana why she waited so long to file a missing person report on her daughter, the document states the mother claimed “she was worried it might start a 'conflict' between her and Christopher.”
According to the FBI, Madalina was last seen wearing jeans, a white t-shirt and jacket, and pink, purple and white Adidas shoes.
Madalina has brown hair and eyes, stands 4’ 10” and weighs around 90 pounds.
“In a missing child investigation, every second counts,” Capt. Thompson says in the video. “Unfortunately, in this case, it was more than three weeks before our department was notified [Madalina] was missing.”
Thompson adds, “Despite being hampered by the timeline, we are doing everything possible to find her.”
On the afternoon of Feb. 14, WSOC-TV reported investigators and a K-9 officer spent around two hours at the missing child’s home.
On Aug. 17, 2023, Diane and Palmiter pleaded not guilty in court for failing to report Madalina as missing for more than three weeks.
In an August 2023 interview, Madalina's grandmother, Rodica Cojocari, claimed the missing girl, who would now be 12 years old if she is alive, was sold to traffickers in a plan masterminded by Palmiter.
The Cornelius Police Department continues to investigate this case. Diana and Palmeter are expected to go to trial later this year.
Anyone with information concerning the whereabouts of Madalina Cojocari is urged to contact the Cornelius Police Department at (704) 892-7773, a local FBI office, the nearest American Embassy or Consulate, or submit a tip online at tips.fbi.gov.
*This article was originally published on Feb. 17, 2023 and updated on Aug. 29, 2023.