The search for missing 11-year-old Madalina Cojocari faces challenges after it took her mother weeks to report her missing, North Carolina police say.
“One of the challenges in this case, simply put, we were not notified she was gone,” Cornelius police Capt. Jennifer Thompson said Tuesday while providing a case update. “The search for Madalina has police looking all over the world.”
“Investigators have developed and followed nearly 250 leads spanning across state lines and across the globe.”
As CrimeOnline previously reported, Madalina was reported missing on December 15, although her mother, 35-year-old Diana Cojocari, says she hasn’t seen her since November 23. The FBI and several other agencies, including the State Bureau of Investigation, have joined the search efforts and investigation.
According to an arrest affidavit, Cojocari told detectives that she didn’t immediately report Madalina missing because she was concerned that her husband would put her family in danger and that it “might start a conflict” with him.
Cojocari also told investigators that some of Madalina’s clothes were missing but that she couldn’t think of anywhere her daughter may have gone. Most of their family, according to Cojocari, live in Moldova, a country in Eastern Europe.
“This is a serious case of a child whose parents clearly are not telling us everything they know,” Thompson said. “Please call us if you have eyewitness information.”
On December 21, police released footage taken inside a school bus that shows Madalina in a white shirt and backpack as she exits the bus at 4:59 p.m. on November 21 in Cornelius.
“This is the last time investigators have independent confirmation of when Madalina was last seen. She got off the bus on 11-21-22, at 4:59 p.m. We are seeking additional witnesses outside of the family to narrow down the exact timeline of when she disappeared,” the FBI Charlotte said.
This is the last time investigators have independent confirmation of when Madalina was last seen. She got off the bus on 11-21-22, at 4:59 p.m. We are seeking additional witnesses outside of the family to narrow down the exact timeline of when she disappeared. #FindMadalina pic.twitter.com/dkStKHmjjB
— FBI Charlotte (@FBICharlotte) December 20, 2022
Madalina was officially reported missing after Bailey Middle School officials arrived at the home for a truancy check on December 12. According to an arrest warrant obtained by the Charlotte Observer, no one answered the door when officials arrived.
“There was no answer at the door, and a truancy packet was left,” a school counselor wrote.
A few days later, Cojacori arrived at Bailey Middle School and reported her missing to a school resource officer.
“I asked Diana why she did not report Madalina missing until now,” Bailey Middle School Resource Officer J. Nobles noted, according to the arrest report. “Diana stated she was worried it might start a ‘conflict’ between her [and her husband].”
The suspects are being held at the Mecklenburg County Detention Center. The judge set Cojacori’s bond at $250,000 and initially set Palmiter’s bond at $100,000, which was later raised to $200,000.
Madalina is described as being 4-feet-10-inches tall and weighing around 90 pounds. She has brown hair and brown eyes.
Anyone with information on Madalina should call the Cornelius Police Department at 704-892-7773. To remain anonymous, call North Mecklenburg Crime Stoppers at 704-896-7867. You can also contact the FBI at 1-800-CALL FBI.
Check back for updates.
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[Featured image: Police Handout]