Authorities investigating the disappearance of a North Carolina child released video this week that appears to show him getting off a school bus on Nov. 21, marking the last time he was definitively seen before he went missing.
Madalina Cojocari, 11, is now the focus of a wide-ranging investigation involving detectives with the Cornelius Police Department, the FBI and the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation, officials confirmed in a news release issued Tuesday, which primarily featured the video school bus tracking.
The silent video, which lasts just under 20 seconds, sees Kojokari walking down the center aisle of a bus surrounded by peers before getting off at her usual stop, Cornelius police said. Although the video only confirms the child’s whereabouts until Nov. 21, her mother and stepfather previously told detectives that she was last seen two days later, on Nov. 23, at their home, according to the police department.
Investigators say they are currently seeking independent witnesses outside of Cojocari’s family who may be able to corroborate the parents’ statements or otherwise provide information on the timeline of her disappearance.
Parents, Diana Cojocari, 37, and Christopher Palmiter, 60,and were charged over the weekend for not reporting their daughter missing until Dec. 15 — more than three weeks after she was reportedly last seen at home. Failure to report a missing child to law enforcement is a Class I felony in North Carolina. Both the mother and stepfather are being held at the Mecklenburg County Detention Center.
Between Nov. 23 and Dec. 15, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools staff contacted Diana Cojocari “on multiple occasions” because of Madalina Cojocari’s prolonged absences from class, police said, noting that Diana had reported the sixth missing elementary school resource officer at Bailey Middle School on Dec. 15 “after repeated contact.”
Madalina Cojocari was last seen wearing jeans, pink, purple and white Adidas shoes and a white T-shirt and jacket, police said. Investigators describe her as 4’10” tall and weighing 90 pounds, with brown hair and brown eyes.
On Monday, police announced that, in coordination with the FBI as well as state investigators, they had expanded the search for Cojocari to include Lake Cornelius, a man-made lake that is more than 30 miles long and about 10 miles wide.
“As part of the normal investigation process, we are expanding our search area beyond the home where Madalina was last seen to now include Lake Cornelius. We are conducting additional land and water searches as a precaution. There is nothing we won’t do at #FindMadalina,” police said.
Anyone with information is asked to call the Cornelius Police Department at 704-892-7773 or 1-800-CALL-FBI.