Madalina Cojocari: Whereabouts of missing North Carolina girl still unknown one year later

Tuesday marked one year since Madalina Cojocari, a North Carolina 11-year-old girl, was last seen.

To date, authorities are still trying to find her as her parents have been a focus in the investigation. 

The FBI said Madalina disappeared from her home on November 23, 2022, in Cornelius, North Carolina. She was last seen wearing jeans, pink, purple and white Adidas shoes, and a white t-shirt and jacket. She was reported missing to Bailey Middle School on December 15, 2022.

Madalina Cojocari: What we know about her parents

Shortly after her disappearance, Cornelius police arrested her stepfather, 60-year-old Christopher Palmiter, and her mother, Diana Cojocari, for failing to report the disappearance of a child.

RELATED: FBI joins search for 11-year-old North Carolina girl as police arrest mother, stepfather

School employees said they contacted Diana several times about her daughter's whereabouts, but it wasn't until December 15, 2022, that the mother walked into the school and told a school resource officer her daughter was missing. 


Cornelius police arrested stepfather, Christopher Palmiter, 60, and her mother, Diana Cojocari, for failing to report the disappearance of missing 11-year-old Madalina Cojocari. (Mecklenburg County Detention Center)

"This is a serious case of a child whose parents clearly are not telling us everything they know," Capt. Jennifer Thompson of the Cornelius Police Department said in a video statement released on social media.

In November 2022, Palmiter drove to his relatives' home in Michigan "to recover some items" after an argument with his wife.

RELATED: Madalina Cojocari: Police release last-known footage of missing North Carolina girl

Cojocari went into her daughter's room around 11:30 a.m. that morning to discover that the 11-year-old was gone. She waited three days, until November 26, 2022, when her husband returned home to Cornelius, to ask whether he knew where Madalina was. Palmiter apparently asked her the same question in return, according to an affidavit.


FILE - Madalina Cojocari was reported missing on Dec. 15, 2022. (Cornelius Police Department)

When detectives asked Cojocari why she waited until December 15, 2022, to report her daughter missing, the mother said "she was worried it might start a 'conflict' between her" and Palmiter. 

Madalina Cojocari: Authorities release last-known images, surveillance video

Throughout the year, police have released photos and surveillance video of Madalina. 

One footage came from a school bus surveillance video. It showed Madalina walking down the aisle with other students. The video is dated two days before she was last seen. 


Madalina Cojocari has been missing from Cornelius, North Carolina, for more than 80 days. (Cornelius PD)

Police also released new images of the little girl, with one showing her wearing a blue see-thru poncho with other people in the background. 

The search for Madalina Cojocari

Police have searched throughout North Carolina for Madalina and even expanded their search area away from her hometown. 

"As part of the normal investigative process, we are expanding our search area outside of the home where Madalina was last seen and that now includes Lake Cornelius," the Cornelius Police Department posted on Facebook last year. "We are conducting additional land and water searches as a precautionary measure."

RELATED: Madalina Cojocari: Authorities expand search for missing 11-year-old North Carolina girl

Madalina's family penned a handwritten note expressing their concern for the missing 11-year-old, which the CPD shared with the public December 22, 2022. 


Investigators on shared a handwritten, personal message from the family of Madalina Cojocari. (FBI Charlotte / Cornelius Police Department)

"We, as a family, are devastated and absolutely heartbroken to learn that Madalina is missing. We love Madalina and are shocked by these circumstances. This is something no child or family should ever have to endure, the letter read. Our family doing everything we know to do to support the efforts to find Madalina and bring her home. We are and continue to have hope and positivity in this difficult time and pray that she is found safe very soon."

"We know and greatly appreciate that the local, state, national, and online communities have come together to share fliers, offer positive support, hold prayer vigils, support law enforcement and are doing everything possible to find and bring Madalina safely home."

If you have any information concerning the whereabouts of Madalina Cojocari, please contact the Cornelius Police Department at (704) 892-7773. You may also contact your local FBI office, the nearest American Embassy or Consulate, or you can submit a tip online at

This story was reported from Los Angeles.