Police: School bus video shows 11-year-old Madalina Cojocari 2 days before disappearance
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV/Gray News) - Authorities in North Carolina have released further information in the case of a missing 11-year-old girl.
Cornelius police released surveillance video Wednesday of Madalina Cojocari getting off her school bus on Nov. 21.
Authorities said the 11-year-old was reported missing on Dec. 15 but was not seen for about three weeks before the missing person report.
The girl’s mother, Diana Cojocari, and stepfather, Christopher Palmiter, have been arrested in the case. Authorities said they were taken into custody on Dec. 17 for failure to report the disappearance of a child to law enforcement.
According to court officials, Diana Cojocari has hindered their investigation and “begrudgingly” reported her missing daughter.
Diana Cojocari was given a $250,000 bond and ordered to be placed under electronic monitoring if bond is posted.
WBTV shared the following timeline of events from an arrest sheet with details regarding events from Dec. 12-15 involving the girl’s mother and stepfather:
The school resource officer at Bailey Middle School attempted a home visit with the school’s sixth-grade counselor in reference to Madalina’s absence from school since Nov. 21.
There was no answer at the door, and a truancy packet was left by Lampkin.
Madalina’s mother, Diana Cojocari, called the counselor and requested a meeting in reference to her daughter.
Diana Cojocari reportedly told the counselor she would bring Madalina to school on Thursday and meet with her in reference to the truancy. The school resource officer arrived and was advised that Madalina has been missing since Nov. 23.
The officer spoke to Diana Cojocari, who said she last saw Madalina on Nov. 23. She said that Madalina went into her room that night to go to bed.
Diana Cojocari reportedly said she and her husband, Palmiter, argued that night, and the next morning he drove to his family’s house in Michigan to recover some items.
The mother said she went to check on Madalina around 11:30 a.m. on Nov. 24 and noticed Madalina was not in her room.
Diana Cojocari said she then waited until 7 p.m. on Nov. 26, when Palmiter returned home before asking if he knew where Madalina was.
Palmiter reportedly said he did not and asked the same question in return.
When asked why she did not report Madalina missing then, authorities said the mother was worried it might start a “conflict” between her and Palmiter.
The officer asked her to contact Palmiter and have him come to the school. The officer then contacted two detectives for assistance, according to court records.
Palmiter reportedly told authorities that on Nov. 23, he left his home to make a trip to Michigan to pick up items. He said that he did not see Madalina the day he left and believed that the last time he saw her was a week before his trip.
He stated that he returned on Nov. 26, and asked Diana Cojocari where Madalina was, and she said that she did not know.
Palmiter told Diana Cojocari that he did not know where Madalina was either, according to the arrest sheet. He stated that he asked Diana Cojocari if she had hidden Madalina and Diana Cojocari asked him if he had hidden Madalina and they both said no.
Palmiter did not report the girl missing to the police at that time, court records state. He stated he spoke with Diana Cojocari several times about Madalina’s whereabouts over the next three weeks and both stated that they did not know where she was, but they did not contact the police to report the child missing, according to the arrest sheet.
The full arrest report is available online.
Palmiter made his first court appearance on Dec. 19. He was assigned a public defender and given a $200,000 bond.
The Cornelius Police Department, the FBI, and the State Bureau of Investigation are continuing their search for the child.
Authorities said Madalina weighs approximately 90 pounds and was last seen wearing jeans, pink, purple and white Adidas shoes with a white T-shirt and jacket.
Anyone with information regarding the whereabouts of Madalina is asked to contact the Cornelius Police Department at 704-892-7773 or the North Mecklenburg Crimestoppers at 704-896-7867.
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