Madalina Cojocari’s mom asked relative to ‘smuggle’ them away from home, warrants say

Investigators are continuing to search for 11-year-old Madalina Cojocari.
Warrants revealed that Diana Cojocari, Madalina's mother, wanted to escape her husband and home in Cornelius.
Published: Mar. 8, 2023 at 4:07 PM EST
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CORNELIUS, N.C. (WBTV) - Investigators are continuing the search for missing 11-year-old Madalina Cojocari, with newly-unsealed warrants revealing that the girl’s mother requested a family member smuggle her and her daughter away from their Cornelius home.

According to a search warrant dated Feb. 13, phone records showed a conversation took place between Diana Cojocari, Madalina’s mother, and a distant relative on Dec. 2, 2022.

During that conversation, Diana had “extensive communication” with the distant relative, who has been connected to ongoing T3 drug/narcotic trafficking investigations.

A second warrant, dated Feb. 14, revealed that Diana asked him if he could smuggle her and Madalina away from their home. The relative said that Diana had told him that she was in a bad relationship with her husband, Christopher Palmiter, and wanted a divorce.

Using that information, investigators secured a search warrant for Diana’s Toyota Prius, as well as the Cojocari home.

While performing the search of the Prius, a narcotics K-9 alerted to the driver’s side door.

Authorities seized a debit card to a bank in Moldova, which belonged to Diana, as well as Romanian and Moldovan passports issued to Madalina. They also seized a Romanian passport belonging to Diana. Work and miscellaneous documents were seized as well.

Investigators did not seize any information from the home, but had been searching for the items:

  • Any evidence indicating the commission of a violent crime
  • Medications, including drugs or drug paraphernalia
  • U.S. and foreign currency
  • Evidence indicating the planning, execution or assistance with a crime
  • Papers, tickets or documents indicating foreign or domestic travel

The latest twist in the search for the 11-year-old comes more than 100 days after she was last seen.

Madalina was last seen by the public getting off of a school bus on Nov. 21. She wasn’t reported missing until Dec. 15, after the school resource officer attempted to deliver truancy paperwork to the house.

During that time, Palmiter said he had traveled to Michigan.

Diana and Palmiter were arrested Dec. 17 and charged with failure to report the disappearance of a child to law enforcement. Both remain in the Mecklenburg County Jail, according to jail records.

Officers in the past have said her mother and stepfather “clearly” were not telling authorities everything they know.

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