Local police said on Tuesday that the parents of missing 11-year-old Madalina Cojocari “clearly” know more than they’ve told investigators.
The Cornelius Police Department provided an update on the steps it has taken in the 12 days since Cojocari went missing, with the assistance of the FBI and the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation.
“We know everyone has a lot of questions,” Capt. Jennifer Thompson said in a Facebook video. “We also have questions and are doing everything we can, with proper legal authority, to get those answers.”
“This is a serious case of a child whose parents are clearly not telling us everything they know.” she added.
The FBI released a surveillance video last week that investigators said showed the 11-year-old leaving her school bus on Nov. 21, the last confirmed sighting of the child.
Her parents told investigators she had gone missing on November 23, but she was reported missing on December 15, according to a police report.
Her parents, Diana Cojocari, 37, and Christopher Palmiter, 60, were arrested and charged on December 17 under a North Carolina law that requires guardians to notify police within “a reasonable time” when a child goes missing.
According to police, each faces a felony charge of failing to report a child’s disappearance to law enforcement. According to the local sheriff’s website, both are scheduled to appear in Mecklenburg County Court on Wednesday morning.
In the 12 days that investigators have been looking for the girl, they have developed and followed about 250 leads, Thompson said on Tuesday. Those leads have come from “across state lines and across the globe,” she said.
“We have interviewed hundreds of people in North Carolina, other states, and, again, across the globe,” she explained.
Police have knocked on about 245 doors in the Victoria Bay neighborhood around Madalina Cojocari’s house, according to Thompsons. Hours of surveillance video from local businesses have been “scoured” by investigators.
“Investigators received multiple search warrants for Madalina’s home, to make sure we legally gathered each and every piece of evidence to find Madalina,” Thompson explained.
Police said Diana Cojocari’s school contacted her “several” times between Nov. 23 and Dec. 15, when her mother reported her missing at her school.
“One of the challenges in the case, simply put — we were not notified she was gone, a delay of three weeks,” Thompson explained.
According to an arrest sheet obtained by ABC News affiliate WSOC, officials have been working to piece together a timeline of Madalina Cojocari’s disappearance.
According to the arrest sheet, Diana Cojocari told police she had last seen the girl around 10 p.m. on Nov. 23.
Diana Cojocari informed authorities “Madalina went to bed that night in her room. Diana stated that she and her husband, Christopher Palmiter, fought that night and that the next morning he drove to his family’s home in Michigan to retrieve some items “The arrest sheet was filled out by law enforcement officials.
According to the arrest sheet, Diana Cojocari went to check on her daughter around 11:30 a.m. on Nov. 24, but she was not in her room. Diana Cojocari told police that she waited until Palmiter returned home on Nov. 26 around 7 p.m. to ask if he knew where Madalina Cojocari was.
Police “asked Diana why she did not report Madalina missing until” mid-December, and she “stated she was worried it might start a ‘conflict’ between her and Christopher,” according to the arrest sheet.
Palmiter told police that when he returned from his trip, he asked Diana Cojocari where Madalina was.
“Chris stated he spoke with Diana several time(s) about Madalina’s whereabouts(s) over the next three weeks and both stated they did not know where she was but they did not contact the police to report Madalina missing,” according to the arrest sheet.
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