Madalina Cojocari’s parents are “highly suspicious” and have “incredibly penalized the police” after failing to report the missing 11-year-olds, experts have claimed.
The young North Carolina girl was not reported missing until December 15, 2022, three weeks after she originally went missing.
She was last seen on video getting off her school bus on November 21, according to the Cornelius Police Department.
Her mother, Diana Cojocari, reportedly claimed she waited to report her daughter missing because she feared it would cause conflict with her husband, Christopher Palmiter.
The couple reportedly had a fire in their backyard the night after Madalina went missing, and her stepfather took a road trip the next day to visit family in Michigan.
Both remain in custody on bail set at hundreds of thousands of dollars after being charged with failing to report a missing child.
Now the police have intensified their hunt for the schoolgirl as investigators conducted hundreds of interviews and followed up more than 250 leads.
But moving forward will not be an easy task.
Former Los Angeles County prosecutor Joshua Ritter, now a partner at El Dabe Ritter Trial Lawyers, spoke exclusively to The US Sun about the investigation’s next steps — and the challenges law enforcement may face.
He said: “In addition to failing to report the child missing, the parents could be faced with a variety of child endangerment crimes.
“That’s assuming there’s nothing more horrible going on here and the parents aren’t involved. But I wouldn’t be surprised if murder charges later came up.
“With a child so young missing, it’s not like she has any resources of her own if she actually ran away.
“So their assumption is that either she was kidnapped or her parents are involved. The delay in reporting missing persons will be another obstacle for the police.
“But assuming the child is indeed missing and the parents have nothing to do with it, the parents put the police at an incredible disadvantage by not reporting it immediately.
“In missing persons cases, time is of the essence and whatever the police would have done to search the area if they had known immediately, all is lost.
“Now police must attempt to establish the whereabouts of someone using outdated evidence, which at this point is several months old.
“The situation is so suspicious that one has to assume that the parents were involved.
“Police are already digging up their backyard and searching their home, so it seems the police are already investigating that assumption.”
Former federal prosecutor Neama Rahmani, president of Los Angeles-based West Coast Trial Lawyers, told The US Sun she thought the parents’ stories “just don’t make sense.”
The mother told staff at Madalina’s middle school and local police that the last time she saw her was when she went into her bedroom at 10 p.m. on November 21, per Yahoo! News.
According to court documents, her parents had argued.
Madalina’s stepfather took a trip to the family the next day to “salvage some items,” according to the files.
At 11:30 a.m. on November 24, Cojocari claimed for the first time that Madalina was gone.
According to an affidavit, upon returning from Michigan, Cojocari waited three days to ask her husband Palmiter if he knew where their daughter was.
In response, he is said to have asked his wife the same question.
Rahmani told The US Sun: “Your only possible defense is to blame someone else and that’s what’s going to happen here.
“The other defenses we see in cases like this are claims that the death was accidental, but I don’t think that holds water given all the conflicting stories here.
“It’s not a question of whether there will be charges of murder. It’s a matter of when, if not days then probably a few weeks.
“This is entirely consistent with a family murder rather than a stranger kidnapping the child. These are just not very sophisticated criminals.
MURDER OFFERS EXPECTED
“Premeditated murder in the first degree is what I think is about to happen, and it’s as bad as it gets.
“Investigators want to turn them around to turn them against each other, but it’s difficult to give either of them a discount in terms of a plea deal in a murder case like this involving such a young child.
“The next steps in this case will be to find a body and evidence that the girl was killed.
“Obviously the corpse and a murder weapon are the gold standards, but if they don’t have that, they could still prosecute them for murder with circumstantial evidence, any victim’s blood, smells in the house consistent with a decomposing body, and their conflicting ones.” Statements and belated reporting of the girl’s disappearance.
“Charging them now is what they usually do because they don’t have a body.
“There is public outrage so they are bringing these charges to get the process underway, but they are not yet ready to go to trial for murder and because the accused have a right to a speedy trial, the police want to go ahead look for the body and additional evidence.”
Madalina is described as a white, 90-pound woman with brown hair and blue eyes.
Anyone with information on her whereabouts can contact the Cornelius Police Department at (704) 892-1363.
Information can also be submitted online to the Federal Criminal Police Office.
https://www.the-sun.com/news/7430754/madalina-cojocaris-parents-highly-suspicious-put-police-at-disadvantage/ Madalina Cojocari’s parents are ‘highly suspicious’ and have ‘incredibly disadvantaged the police’