Madalina Cojocari’s mother wanted to escape home: Warrant

Police believe Diana Cojocari (left) drove hours away from home in her Toyota Prius (bottom right) after her daughter Madalina Cojocari went missing. (Image: Cornelius Police Department)

The mother of a missing 11-year-old girl had asked for help “smuggling” the both of them from their home, according to a newly released search warrant.

As previously reported, young Madalina Cojocari disappeared in late November 2022 from Cornelius, North Carolina.

According to an arrest sheet, she last went to school on Nov. 21. A resource officer and a counselor for Bailey Middle School both visited the family home on Dec. 12, but no one answered, authorities said. The counselor got the mother Diana Cojocari to arrive at school on Dec. 15, but she did not bring Madalina, investigators claim.

The mother allegedly said her daughter had been missing since back on Nov. 23.

“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 [the stepfather] Christopher Palmiter returned home before asking if he knew where Madalina was.”

Palmiter claimed not to know and he asked her 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 Diana Cojocari about Madalina’s whereabouts. Diana Cojocari said she 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.

The couple allegedly did not contact cops to report her missing, even after they both spoke about her being gone.

Both Palmiter and Diana Cojocari were charged with failing to report Madalina missing.

As part of the investigation, police obtained the newly released search warrants for Diana Cojocari’s green Toyota Prius and the Cojocari home, respectively dated Feb. 13 and 14.

Officers claim 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.

Diana Cojocari, and Christopher Palmiter. Madalina Cojocari. (Mugshots: Mecklenburg County; image of Madalina: FBI)

Diana Cojocari, and Christopher Palmiter. Madalina Cojocari. (Mugshots: Mecklenburg County; image of Madalina: FBI)

As previously reported, officers have said the child’s last confirmed, independent sighting was stepping off a school bus at her stop on Nov. 21 at 4:59 p.m.

Police stated outright that they believe the mother and stepfather were “clearly” withholding information about her disappearance. Officers also sought any eyewitnesses who may have seen Diana Cojocari and her Toyota Prius in Madison County at any time from Madalina’s last confirmed sighting on Nov. 21 to Dec. 15, the day she was finally reported missing.

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