CHARLOTTE, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) — The mother and step-father of a missing 11-year-old girl had a court hearing Wednesday on charges of failing to file a report on her disappearance.
Madalina Cojocari has been missing for more than a month, last seen in public on Nov. 21. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools had a video of the Cornelius resident getting off a school bus.
Related: A former FBI agent talks about the search
Diana Cojocari and Christopher Palmiter are accused of waiting weeks to file a report and reportedly only did so after Madalina’s school started asking why she had not been in class, according to Cornelius Police.
Both did not appear in Mecklenburg County court. The circumstance is not unusual for bond hearings, but a judge did add conditions to their bonds — specifically, that they consent to give up their passports.
As part of Diana’s bail arrangement, she was told she would need to wear an electronic monitoring device if she posted bail. As of Dec. 28, both were still in the Mecklenburg County Detention Center.
Police said Diana Cojocari is from Moldova.
Both parents got bonds last week at their first appearances before a judge. Diana Cojocari can leave the jail if she posts the $250,000 bail. Palmiter is still in jail and could go if he posts a $200,000 bail.
Former FBI Official Weighs In
With many taking interest in the case, authorities are doing legally everything they can to get information from the parents.
“I don’t know that [police] can do anything further other than to break one of them, with the belief that it would be in their best interest to confess as to what happened,” said former FBI Special Agent Michael Tabman, who has experience working on cases similar to this one.
“I can tell you it is highly frustrating. There’s a child out there, you want to save that child, you’re hoping that child is still alive, and you’re doing all you can. But in your heart, with each passing day, you know the odds of finding that child alive are less and less.”
Tabman says unless police can definitively prove child abuse or neglect, there’s not much else they can charge Madalina’s parents with.
“The police do believe that they are involved and therefore know something that they’re just not telling them,” he said.
Search Efforts Detailed Monday
Cornelius Police, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation are actively investigating the case.
In a video statement released Tuesday, Cornelius Police Capt. Jennifer Thompson said, “this is a serious case of a child whose parents clearly are not telling us everything they know.”
As of Wednesday, the search warrant served at Madalina’s home on Victoria Bay Drive in Cornelius on Dec. 21 was still not publicly available. Queen City News was told it would be ready first thing Thursday morning.
The parents are set to appear in court again on Jan. 9 for their probable cause hearing.