Missing Madalina Search: Police Claim Mother Drove to Remote Area in Mountains After Daughter Disappeared

Diana and Madalina Cojocari
Conelius Police Department

There is also new information about what detectives discovered when visiting the home where 11-year-old Madalina Cojocari lived with her mother and stepfather, Christopher Palmiter. 

There is a new development in the investigation into the disappearance of 11-year-old Madalina Cojocari.

The Cornelius Police Department is now seeking information from anyone who may have seen Madalina’s mother in Madison County, North Carolina, during the days or weeks after her disappearance.

Madison County is a sparsely populated and densely forested section of the state, located deep in the Appalachian Mountains on the Tennessee border.

Police believe the trip took place after Madalina was last seen on Nov. 21, but before the start of their investigation into the missing child on Dec. 15.

“One of the family members was in the Madison County area of NC,” said the department's statement on its Facebook page. "We are seeking firsthand eyewitness information from anyone who may have seen this Prius or white female in the Madison Co area.”

The family member was identified as Diana Cojocari. Two photos of Madalina's mother released with the statement showed her standing in a mountainous area with heavy woods behind her.

There is also new information about what detectives say they discovered when visiting the home where Madalina lived with her mother and stepfather, Christopher Palmiter. 

“While in the residence I notice an area blocked with plywood off the kitchen,” claimed an updated affidavit filed by police seeking an arrest warrant.

When asked about the plywood, Palmiter replied “they had planned to make a separate apartment,” wrote Det. Brad Nichols.

Madalina’s mother also said that a backpack and clothing were missing from her daughter’s room, the affidavit said.

That information and a three-week delay in reporting Madalina missing were presented to a North Carolina judge as the basis for an arrest warrant.  

The two parents were taken into custody on Dec. 17 on a single charge of failure to report the disappearance of a child. Last week, a grand jury formally indicted the pair.

The couple has not shared any new information since being taken into custody, authorities said.

“This is a serious case of a child whose parents are clearly not telling us everything they know,” Capt. Jenny Thomas of the Cornelius Police Department said last month.

Palmiter is being held on a $200,000 bond while Cojocari is being held on $250,000 bond. Jail records show Palmiter was booked 12 hours before his wife on Dec. 17.

If released on bail, the two will be required to surrender their passports.

There is no attorney listed for either party, according to court records.

A spokesperson for the Cornelius Police Department previously told Inside Edition Digital that school employees had called the girl's mother on several occasions to inquire about her absence from school.

The last confirmed sighting of Madalina was on Nov. 21, when she was seen on video exiting a school bus at 4:59 p.m., just days before Thanksgiving. That video was later released by the FBI.

The only person to report seeing her after that time is her mother, who told police that she had last seen her daughter on Nov. 23.

Madalina did not attend school for two days before the long holiday weekend, according to school officials.

Any individual with firsthand information that could help detectives are asked to call the Cornelius Police Department at 704-892-1363 or the Federal Bureau of Investigation at 1-800-Call FBI.

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