Investigators expand search for girl missing for weeks


CORNELIUS, N.C. (WJZY) — The search for missing 11-year-old Madalina Cojocari was expanded to include Lake Cornelius Monday morning, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigations.

The FBI said agents were working with the Cornelius Police Department and the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigations to locate the girl who was reportedly last seen on the evening of November 23.

Police said Madalina’s parents reported her missing at 1:12 p.m. on December 15 to the School Resource Officer at Bailey Middle School.

(Photo Credit: Cornelius PD, Mecklenburg County Sheriff)

The missing person report came three weeks after they said they had last seen the girl.

When asked by NewsNation affiliate WJZY why the parents had waited three weeks to report her missing, the FBI said it was part of the investigation. The FBI says they have not ruled out classifying the case as suspicious. They said Madalina had been living with her mother, 37-year-old Diana Cojocari, and stepfather, 60-year-old Christopher Palmiter.

On Saturday, Cornelius Police said they charged Cojocari and Palmiter with failure to report the disappearance of a child to law enforcement.

Palmiter appeared in court on Monday, where he was issued a $200,000 bond. During the session, the state said neither has provided any information thus far on the young child’s whereabouts. Palmiter’s next court date is December 28.

The FBI said Monday the search had been expanded to include Lake Cornelius as “a precautionary measure.” They also launched a ‘#FindMadalina’ hashtag campaign on Monday calling for the public’s assistance.

“There’s nothing we won’t do to #FindMadalina,” FBI Charlotte said on Twitter.

Madalina is described as an 11-year-old girl with brown eyes, 4’10” tall, and weighing about 90 pounds. She was last seen wearing jeans, pink, purple, and white Adidas shoes, and a white t-shirt and jacket.

Anyone who has information on her whereabouts is asked to call the Cornelius Police Department at 704-892-7773 or North Mecklenburg Crime Stoppers at 704-896-7867.

You may also contact your local FBI office, the nearest American Embassy or Consulate.

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