As updates in the search for 11-year-old Madalina Cojocari grew few and far between, a local police chief says his detectives are still on the case.
“This is not a cold case,” Cornelius Police Chief David Baucom said Tuesday during a breakfast opening to the public, according to WSOC. “We have detectives working this case every single day. We just can’t talk about it. Just because we’re not talking about it, doesn’t mean we’re not doing anything.”
Cojocari’s last confirmed sighting was stepping off a school bus at her stop on Nov. 21 at 4:59 p.m., according to cops in Cornelius, North Carolina.
But authorities claim her mother Diana Cojocari only reported the child missing on Dec. 15. This was few days after a school counselor and a school resource officer got no answer at the door when visiting the family home to check on Madalina, who had not attended class since that Nov. 21, police said. Diana allegedly asserted that her daughter had been missing since Nov. 23, the day before Thanksgiving.
“She stated that Madalina went into her room that night to go to bed,” authorities said. “Diana stated her 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. Diana Cojocari stated she went to check on Madalina around 11:30 hours on the 24th [Thanksgiving] and noticed Madalina was not in her room. Diana Cojocari stated she waited until Saturday, November 26th at 1900 hours, when Christopher Palmiter returned home before asking if he knew where Madalina was.”
Palmiter claimed not to know, and he asked Diana the same question, defendant Cojocari allegedly said.
“I [the affiant] asked Diana why she did not report Madalina missing until now,” authorities said. “Diana stated she was worried it might start a ‘conflict’ between her and Christopher.”
Palmiter allegedly told police he left home for Michigan on Nov. 23 to pick up items. He said he did not see Madalina the day he left, and he believed that the last time he saw her was a week before his trip, officers said.
He allegedly returned home on Nov. 26, and asked his wife Diana about Madalina’s whereabouts. Diana said he did not know.
“Chris stated that he asked Diana if she had hidden Madalina and Diana asked Chris if he had hidden Madalina and they both said no,” authorities said.
Now Diana Cojocari and Christopher Palmiter, who is Madalina’s stepfather, are charged with failing to report the 11-year-old’s disappearance.
“This is a serious case of a child whose parents clearly are not telling us everything they know,” Capt. Jennifer Thompson of the Cornelius Police Department said in a statement released in December.
Police previously said that they believe Diana left their home county of Mecklenburg in the days after her daughter’s disappearance.
“We are seeking firsthand eyewitness information from anyone who may have seen Toyota Prius or white female in the area between the dates of November 22nd to December 15th, 2022,” officers wrote.
In a search warrant, police claimed to have interviewed a distant relative of Diana Cojocari. This male family member said Diana Cojocari and her mother asked him if he would help Cojocari with “smuggling” her and Madalina from the home. He “stated that she told him she was in a bad relationship with co-defendant Christopher Palmiter and wanted a divorce,” documents stated.
“The next steps are what we’re doing right now,” Baucom reportedly said. “We’re still following up on leads. It is still an active investigation.”
Authorities previously describe Madalina as white and weighing approximately 90 pounds. They have previously said she was last seen wearing jeans, Adidas shoes that were pink, purple, and white, and a white T-shirt and jacket, officers said.
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