Mother of missing 11-year-old Madalina Cojocari arrested

Missing

(NewsNation) — Police have arrested the mother and stepfather of missing 11-year-old Madalina Cojocari in North Carolina.

Madalina Cojocari’s mother told a school resource officer at Bailey Middle School in Cornelius, North Carolina, that her daughter was missing on Dec. 15. But Diana Cojocari admitted that she hadn’t seen her daughter since Nov. 23 when she went to bed.

School officials repeatedly tried to reach Diana Cojocari regarding Madalina’s absences and requested a meeting with the mother and daughter. When Diana Cojocari showed up without Madalina, she then told the school resources officer the girl was missing.

Police and FBI investigators began searching for the missing girl, including a search of nearby Lake Cornelius.

On Saturday, investigators announced they were arresting Diana Cojocari and Madalina’s stepfather Christopher Palmiter for failing to report the disappearance of a child. North Carolina law requires parents report the disappearance of a child within 24 hours.

Police on Tuesday released footage of Madalina getting off her school bus Nov. 21, the day authorities have independent confirmation she was last seen.

Police said Diana Cojocari has hindered the investigation and avoided reporting her daughter missing. Court documents revealed Diana Cojocari and Palmiter had an argument the night Madalina disappeared, and Diana Cojocari claimed she had avoided reporting her daughter’s disappearance because she feared it would cause conflict with Palmiter.

Palmiter said he did not see his stepdaughter the night of Nov. 23, and that the last time he saw her was on Nov. 16.

Diana Cojocari said Madalina went to bed at 10 p.m. on Nov. 23, but was gone when she went to check on her at 11:30 a.m. on Nov. 24. Palmiter was out of town and Diana Cojocari did not ask him if he knew where Madalina was until he returned home on Nov. 26.

Over the next three weeks, both adults discussed Madalina’s disappearance, but neither reported her missing to police.

According to an arrest report obtained by NewsNation affiliate WJZY, Palmiter told police he left for Michigan “to recover some items” on Nov. 24 and returned Nov. 26.

Madalina is described as weighing about 90 pounds, with brown hair and eyes. She was last seen wearing jeans, a white tee shirt, a jacket and pink, purple and white Adidas shoes.

The Cornelius Police Department is asking anyone with information on Madalina to contact them at 704-892-7773.

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