Madalina Cojocari update: NC officials release video confirming when 11-year-old girl last seen

Madalina Cojocari parents, Christopher Palmiter and Diana Cojocari, being held in jail after girl's Cornelius, NC disappearance

Thursday, December 22, 2022
Video shows when missing 11-year-old North Carolina girl last seen
The parents of a missing North Carolina girl did not go to the police to say she had disappeared for weeks, officials said.

CORNELIUS, N.C. -- Authorities released surveillance video on Tuesday, independently confirming when a missing 11-year-old North Carolina girl was last seen.

A vigil was also held as the FBI, State Bureau of Investigation, and Cornelius, North Carolina Police Department continue to investigate the disappearance of Madalina Cojocari.

Cojocari's mother and stepfather said they last saw her on Nov. 23.

SEE MORE: Mother, stepfather arrested for failing to report missing 11-year-old for weeks, police say

The video authorities released shows Cojocari getting off a school bus at her bus stop at 4:59 p.m. on Nov. 21.

Court documents are shedding new light on the events leading up to her vanishing.

On Tuesday, WSOC obtained the arrest report for Christopher Palmiter, Madalina Cojocari's stepfather. For the first time, it revealed details in the timeline of how Cojocari was reported missing.

The events in the report were described as follows:

Nov. 16: Christopher Palmiter said he said he believed the last time he saw Madalina was a week before his trip -- a date that fell on Nov. 16.

Nov. 21: Madalina was seen on surveillance video getting off the bus at 4:59 p.m. at her bus stop.

Nov. 23: Diana Cojocari told a school resource officer that Madalina went into her room that night to go to bed. Cojocari said she and her husband, Christopher Palmiter, argued that night.

Nov. 24 (Thanksgiving): Cojocari said Palmiter drove to his family's house in Michigan the next morning to "recover some items." Palmiter confirmed the same information to investigators. Cojocari said she went to check on Madalina around 11:30 a.m. that day and noticed Madalina was not in her room.

Nov. 26: Cojocari said she waited until Nov. 26 at 7 p.m., when Palmiter returned home, before asking if he knew where Madalina was. He said he did not know and asked her the same thing. Palmiter said he asked Cojocari if she had hidden Madalina and she said she asked the same -- both said no. He didn't report her missing to the police at that time.

Nov. 26 through the next three weeks: Palmiter said he spoke with Cojocari several times about Madalina's whereabouts over the next three weeks. They both said they didn't know where Madalina was, but they didn't report her missing to police.

Dec. 12: A school resource officer at Bailey Middle School tried to make a home visit for Madalina with the sixth grade school counselor. The counselor said Madalina hadn't been to school since Nov. 21. No one answered the door and they left a truancy packet at the home.

Dec. 14: The counselor said Diana Cojocari called her for a meeting about Madalina. She said Cojocari told her she'd bring Madalina to school on Dec. 15 and they'd meet about the truancy.

Dec. 15: Cojocari arrived without Madalina and met the counselor. The counselor requested the SRO step into meeting as well. When he arrived, Cojocari said Madalina had been missing since Nov. 23. According to the arrest report, when asked why she didn't report Madalina missing until that day, Cojocari said she was worried it might start a "conflict" between her and Palmiter.

Dec. 15: Palmiter confirmed the information that Cojocari said: He left for Michigan on Nov. 23 but didn't see Madalina the day he left. He returned home on Nov. 26 and said he asked Cojocari where Madalina was. Neither of them knew.

The FBI is helping the Cornelius Police Department with its search for Madalina. Her mother and stepfather have been arrested in connection to her disappearance. Both were charged with failure to report the disappearance of a child to law enforcement.

Retired FBI Assistant Director Chris Swecker, who is not involved in the case, said the statements give the kinds of inconsistency detectives are looking for.

"(Investigators) can play one parent off the other parent," Swecker said. "I don't know a lot about these parents but you can test, at least what they are reporting and the circumstances of her being missing, and compare the two by separating the two and really grilling them. If they have not invoked their right to council."

Both Cojocari and Palmiter are being held at the Mecklenburg County jail.