National News Desk

Police seek info on mother, vehicle as search for missing 11-year-old continues

FBI_madalina-cojocari_010823
FBI

(CHARLOTTE, N.C.) — Police searching for a missing North Carolina 11-year-old are seeking information about a Toyota Prius and the girl’s mother possibly visiting a nearby county in the weeks after the girl went missing.

The Cornelius Police Department on Friday released a flyer with images of the girl, Madalina Cojocari, and her mother, Diana Cojocari, 37, who has been charged with a felony for allegedly not reporting her missing.

The girl’s stepfather, Christopher Palmiter, 60, has also been charged. The newly released flyer did not include an image of Palmiter.

The last confirmed public sighting of Madalina Cojocari was on Nov. 22, the FBI’s Charlotte bureau said. Bureau investigators in December released a video they said showed the girl getting off a school bus at her usual stop in Cornelius, a suburb north of Charlotte.

Her mother reported her missing at her school about three weeks later, on Dec. 15, after school officials repeatedly asked why she was absent, police said.

The girl’s parents “clearly” know more than they’ve told investigators, Cornelius Police Capt. Jennifer Thompson said in a video in late December.

Police on Friday said “one of the family members” was in the area of Madison County, North Carolina, between when Madalina was last seen and when she was reported missing, according to a statement posted to Facebook. Madison County is about 150 miles west of Cornelius, where Madison lives and where investigators said she was last seen.

Investigators said they are seeking “firsthand eyewitness information from anyone who may have seen this Toyota Prius” — the newly released poster includes an image of the vehicle — “or white female in the area between the dates of November 22nd, 2022 to December 15th, 2022.”

Both parents were arrested on Dec. 17 and charged under a North Carolina law that requires guardians to notify police within “a reasonable time” when a child goes missing.

Each faces a felony charge of failure to report the disappearance of a child to law enforcement, police said in two statements.

ABC News’ Victoria Arancio contributed to this report.

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