Mother pleads not guilty in disappearance of Madalina Cojocari

Posted at 1:02 PM, August 17, 2023 and last updated 7:48 PM, August 17, 2023


CORNELIUS, N.C. (Court TV) – The case against the mother of missing child Madalina Cojocari will proceed to trial following a hearing Thursday.

diana cojocari and christopher palmiter mugshots

These Dec. 17, 2022 booking photo provided by the Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office shows Diana Cojocari (L) and Christopher Palmiter (R). Cojocari and Palmiter have been charged with failing to report 11-year-old Madalina Cojocari as missing. (Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office)

Diana Cojocari, 37, pleaded not guilty to a charge of failure to report the disappearance of a child to law enforcement. Diana has been jailed since Dec. 2022, along with her husband 60-year-old Christopher Palmiter.

Palmiter, Madalina’s stepfather, appeared in court on Thursday afternoon, where a judge increased his bond to $200,000. Palmiter is charged with failure to report Madalina’s disappearance and is due back in court for a bond hearing on Dec. 28.

The pair were arrested two days after Diana reported Madalina missing to a school resource officer. Madalina was last seen getting off a school bus on Nov. 21. Diana waited nearly one month before reporting the child missing on Dec. 15.

According to an arrest report, Diana told the SRO she last saw Madalina on Nov. 23 when she went to bed. Diana said that same night, she and Palmiter got into an argument “and the next morning he drove to his family house in Michigan to recover some items.” She noticed Madalina was gone around 11:30 a.m. on Nov. 24.

When Palmiter returned home on Nov. 26, neither claimed to know where Madalina was. According to the report, the couple spoke “several times about Madalina’s whereabouts over the next three weeks,” but neither knew where the child was or contacted police.

Madalina Cojocari missing person photo

This undated photo provided by the Cornelius Police Department shows missing 11-year-old Madalina Cojocari. Cojocari was last seen Nov. 23. Her parents reported her missing Dec. 15. (Cornelius Police Department/FBI)

The report also states Diana told a detective “she believed her husband put her family in danger but did not know what happened Madalina.”

In July, unsealed search warrants revealed Diana believed her husband may’ve given Madalina away for money. Diana made the statement during a recorded jail phone call with her mother, during which “the women discuss a bag with money, withdrawing cash, and a theory that Chris gave the girl away for money.”

The warrants also reference a jail call between Palmiter, his brother and his sister-in-law, during which he said that Diana had a lot of cash and he didn’t know where it came from, as well as referring to “financial stuff” coming up.

A trial date has not been set for Cojocari’s case.

Digital content producer Lauren Silver contributed to this report.