Madalina Cojocari is an 11-year-old girl from Cornelius, North Carolina who was last seen getting off a school bus on November 21, but her mother Diana Cojocari reported her missing on December 15. Moreover, in the days after she disappeared, her family was seen lighting a fire and torching couch cushions and other items in their backyard.
Neighbors reported seeing flames and smoke coming from the yard of the Victoria Bay Drive home in late November and even made calls to the police and the fire department. Reports of the fire were confirmed by Cornelius Fire Chief Guerry Barbee on Wednesday.
After Madalina Cojocari was reported missing, the police searched the property for evidence. They were joined by FBI agents, as they scoured the yard for debris.
A neighbor who witnessed the FBI at work, said, “They took all kinds of samples from the fire pit area,’ he said. ‘I guess they were trying to figure out if they burned anything of substance there. It’s a gross feeling to know something like this happened in your neighborhood. It’s very suspicious that the mother didn’t report the girl missing for two weeks.”
Who is Madalina Cojocari?
Madalina stayed with her mother Diana Cojocari, 37, and stepfather, Christopher Palmiter, 60, before her disappearance. She was last seen on November 21 getting off a school bus. According to Diana, she had last seen her daughter on November 23.
According to Diana, Madalin was from Moldova, a former Soviet republic in Eastern Europe, and did not have any friends or family in North Carolina. It is not known how long Diana and her daughter have been living in the United States, and when she married Christopher.
On the day of her disappearance, her mother had argued with her husband. Christopher took off to Michigan that evening, returning three days later on November 26, after which, he claims he came to know that the young girl was missing from the house.
Diana said that did not report the little girl’s disappearance until December 15, because she feared Palmiter’s reaction. After her disappearance, Diana said she got in touch with the girl’s family in Moldova and they urged her to go to the police but she resisted. Palmiter told police he last saw Madalina a week before she disappeared.
Diana and Christopher were arrested over the weekend and charged with failure to report a missing child.