Missing 11-Year-Old's Mother Named As Suspect Years After Disappearance

The mother of a missing North Carolina girl who disappeared in 2022 was named a suspect in the investigation this week for the first time.

Madalina Cojocari, 11, was last seen on surveillance video getting off a school bus outside of her home in Cornelius on Nov. 21, 2022, according to a missing persons bulletin by police. However, she wasn’t reported missing until Dec. 22, when her school got involved.

Madalina Cojocari, 11, has been missing since November 2022.
Madalina Cojocari, 11, has been missing since November 2022. Cornelius Police Department

That delay led to the arrests of Madalina’s mother, Diana Cojocari, 37, and her stepfather, Christopher Palmiter, 62, who were charged with failing to report the girl’s disappearance, according to WCNC. Cojocari pleaded guilty, and Palmiter was found guilty by a jury last month and sentenced to probation.

Arrest documents cited by WCNC revealed that Madalina’s mother had contacted her family in Moldova following the girl’s disappearance, but she did not contact police. She also initially told investigators that she believed Palmiter “put her family in danger,” according to the arrest document.

During his trial, Palmiter’s defense attorney argued that Cojocari manipulated him and made him believe Madalina was alive at the time of her disappearance, according to Fox affiliate WJW.

“I think Diana took her somewhere with her Moldovan family,” Palmiter testified during his trial, according to the outlet. “I believe Diana has tucked her away somewhere where she’s not going to be found.”

According to court documents reviewed by Queen City News, Cojocari said she waited three weeks to report her daughter missing while Palmiter was in Michigan because she was worried it would impact their relationship.

During Palmiter’s trial, attorneys brought into question the mother’s strange behavior, including faith-based rituals that sometimes involved knives and fire, according to the outlet. Cojocari did not take the stand during the trial and did not provide a rebuttal.

Cojocari was released in May after spending 520 days in prison.

On Tuesday, Cornelius police said they are now considering her a suspect in Madalina’s disappearance.

“We continue to seek information on the whereabouts of Madalina Cojocari who hasn’t been seen since November 21st, 2022,” the department said in a Facebook post. “Her mother, Diana Cojocari, is considered a suspect in her disappearance.”

Court records show no charges have been filed against Cojocari.