Mom of missing Madalina Cojocari refuses to go to courthouse for arraignment

Diana Cojocari, the mother of Madalina Cojocari, a 12-year-old girl who’s been missing since 2022, was expected to appear before Superior Court Judge Donald Ray Cureton Jr. during an arraignment at the Mecklenburg County Courthouse Friday morning.

But she refused to go to the courthouse.

“If she chooses not to come, we can’t force her to be here. So this is the outcome today,” Cureton said.

A new date will be set. Prosecutor Bill Bunting told The Charlotte Observer that what happened is “not unheard of.”

The arraignment was supposed to begin at 9:30 a.m. on Friday but the judge was still waiting on her at 10.

In the year and a half since her daughter disappeared, little information has surfaced despite pleas from local police and FBI agents.

Madalina Cojocari: Cornelius’ missing girl

Police arrested Diana Cojocari and her husband, Christopher Palmiter, after Madalina’s teacher noticed a long absence following her Cornelius school’s 2022 Thanksgiving break. She was last seen Nov. 23, 2022, police say, but the couple didn’t report her missing until Dec. 15 of that year.

By Dec. 17, Cornelius police had arrested the couple, charging each with failure to report a missing child. Palmiter posted his $25,000 bond, which was originally $200,000, and Cojocari has remained in jail under her $250,000 bond.

Both Diana Cojocari and Palmiter have been interviewed by police, but neither have offered any explanation as to why they didn’t report the girl missing, prosecutors said in a previous court hearing.

Only bits of conflicting information exist in court documents, and they tend to introduce more questions.

According to court documents and police reports, Cojocari claims Madalina disappeared, on the night of Nov. 23, when her parents were fighting. That night, Cojocari asked him if he knew where Madalina was and if he’d hidden her.

He asked her the same.

Cojocari told a distant relative on Dec. 2, 2022, that she was attempting to “smuggle” both her daughter and herself away from their home in Cornelius because of her “bad” relationship with her husband, according to court documents and search warrants. She wanted a divorce, the relative said.

Cojocari told investigators she believed Palmiter, Madalina’s stepfather, put their family in danger. She also told police she did not report her daughter missing sooner because she feared “conflict” with him, investigators wrote in the documents in the court file.

Later, in a recorded jail call between Cojocari and her mother, “the women discuss a bag with money, withdrawing cash, and a ‘theory that Chris gave the girl away for money,’” according to a search warrant filed by police to obtain bank records.

In another recorded call between Palmiter, his brother and his sister-in-law, he mentioned Cojocari “had a lot of cash with her and he did not know where it came from,” according to the warrant.

Have you seen Madalina?

Search warrants in Mecklenburg County confirm police obtained surveillance video footage from a place near Sugar Mountain and believe Madalina was with a man there on Dec. 16

The man, WBTV and WSOC reported, could be one of Cojocari’s relatives. Local authorities and the FBI have confirmed the search for Madalina expanded beyond the Charlotte area as tips rolled in for the highly-publicized missing child case.

Madalina was last seen wearing jeans, pink, purple and white Adidas shoes, and a white T-shirt and jacket. She is 4 feet, 10 inches tall, has dark brown hair and weighs about 90 pounds, police said at the time of her reported disappearance.

Officers ask that anyone with information on Madalina’s whereabouts call the Cornelius Police Department at 704-892-7773 or the FBI at 1-800-225-5324. To remain anonymous, call North Mecklenburg Crime Stoppers at 704-896-7867.

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