Video shows missing Cornelius girl departing school bus 2 days before disappearance

Law enforcement provided WBTV with a summary of what happened days before Madalina Cojocari was reported missing.
New information has been released in the case of missing 11-year-old Madalina Cojocari from North Carolina. (Source: WBTV)
Published: Dec. 20, 2022 at 11:08 AM EST|Updated: Dec. 20, 2022 at 11:17 AM EST
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - New information has been released in the case of missing 11-year-old Madalina Cojocari of Cornelius.

Madalina was reported missing on Dec. 15, despite not having been seen for three weeks beforehand.

Cornelius Police released surveillance video of Madalina getting off her school bus on Nov. 21 at 4:59 p.m. This is the last time authorities have independent confirmation of when she was last seen.

Her mother, Diana Cojocari, and stepfather, Christopher Palmiter, were both arrested on Dec. 17 for failure to report the disappearance of a child to law enforcement.

Court officials said during her first court appearance on Tuesday that Cojocari has “hindered the investigation” so far and “begrudgingly” reported her daughter missing.

Diana Cojocari
Diana Cojocari(MCSO)

She was given a $250,000 bond and is to be placed under electronic monitoring if she makes bond.

[Cornelius parents arrested for failing to report disappearance of 11-year-old girl]

An arrest sheet in the court record detailed the following timeline of events from Dec. 12 through Dec. 15. The sheet is based off of information provided by Cojocari’s mother and stepfather, the school resource officer and others.

Dec. 12

The school resource officer at Bailey Middle School attempted a home visit with the school’s sixth-grade counselor in reference to Madalina Cojocari’s absence from school since Monday, Nov. 21.

There was no answer at the door, and a truancy packet was left by Lampkin.

Dec. 14

Madalina’s mother, Diana Cojocari, called the counselor and requested a meeting in reference to her daughter.

According to the arrest sheet, Diana 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, at approximately 12 p.m.

The officer spoke to Cojocari, who said she last saw Madalina on Nov. 23 at 10 p.m. She said that Madalina went into her room that night to go to bed.

Diana said she and her husband, Christopher 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 said she then waited until 7 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 26, when Palmiter returned home before asking if he knew where Madalina was.

Palmiter said he did not and asked the same question in return, according to the sheet.

When asked why she did not report Madalina missing then, the mother said she 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.

Dec. 15

At approximately 1:12 p.m., an officer responded to Bailey Middle School. Diana Cojocari reported Madalina had been missing since approximately noon on Tuesday, Nov. 22.

That day, Chris Palmiter stated 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 where Madalina was, and Diana said that she did not know.

Palmiter told Diana that he did not know where Madalina was either, according to the arrest sheet. He stated that he asked Diana if she had hidden Madalina and Diana asked Chris if he had hidden Madalina and they both said no.

Palmiter did not report her missing to the police at that time, court records state. He stated he spoke with Diana 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.

Read the full arrest sheet here.

Palmiter’s first court appearance was on Dec. 19. He was assigned a public defender and given a $200,000 bond.

Christopher Palmiter
Christopher Palmiter(CMPD)

The Cornelius Police Department, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the State Bureau of Investigation are searching for the child.

Madalina weighs approximately 90 pounds and was last seen wearing jeans, pink, purple and white Adidas shoes, and a white t-shirt and jacket.

Anyone with information regarding the whereabouts of Madalina Cojocari is asked to contact the Cornelius Police Department at 704-892-7773 or the North Mecklenburg Crimestoppers at 704-896-7867.

Overall in North Carolina, 42 reported missing kids in 2022 are still missing.

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