According to court filings, the mother of missing sixth-grader Madalina Cojocari in North Carolina told police that she “believed her husband put her family in danger” and that he left their home following a quarrel the night she last saw her daughter.
The allegations against Starling came to light on Wednesday after police returned to the family’s Cornelius home to conduct another search. According to WCNC, authorities had earlier discovered an area that had been sealed up with plywood.
The handwritten note from the 11-year-old schoolgirl’s family, in which they described themselves as “devastated and totally heartbroken” and “desperate to find her,” was also made public by the FBI and neighborhood police.
“We adore Madalina and are horrified by these events. The letter described the girl as a “beautiful, brilliant, compassionate, and loving 11-year-old girl with greatness in her future” and urged that “no child or family should ever have to experience this.”
The family declined to say who made the statement. Madalina’s stepfather Christopher Palmiter, 60, and mother Diana Cojocari, 37, are both accused of delaying reporting her missing for at least 22 days.
Footage of Madalina Cojocari exiting the bus on November 21, 2022. This was the last time she was seen by an outside source. #MissingChild pic.twitter.com/4GOl2UVE0v
— Rose (@901Lulu) December 21, 2022
According to an affidavit acquired by Queen City News, Cojocari admitted to officers during police questioning that she and her husband had argued on Nov. 23, the night she last saw her daughter.
The Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office and Cornelius Police Department Palmiter then left their North Carolina residence and traveled for at least 550 miles and nine hours to be with family in Michigan.
The mother claimed she witnessed her daughter entering her room at 10 p.m. that evening, according to the report, without specifying whether she did so before or after Palmiter left and the argument came to an end.
She reportedly informed police that she didn’t know her daughter wasn’t home until Thanksgiving morning, more than 12 hours later.
She held off on informing Palmiter about his stepdaughter’s disappearance for three days, and she waited weeks before telling Madalina’s school that she had no idea where the sixth-grader was.
In response to questions, Cojocari said she “believed her spouse put her family in danger” and that she had held off reporting her daughter missing out of concern for her marriage.
The affidavit was vague as to why she felt threatened or whether it had anything to do with Madalina going missing, the news source pointed out.
The mother reportedly acknowledged disobeying requests from family members in her home in Moldova to phone the police, according to the article, without specifying whether it was to report her husband, her daughter, or both as missing.
In spite of her assertions, Cojocari reiterated to authorities throughout interviews that she had no idea where her daughter was and emphasized that she had no friends or family in the region who she might be staying with.
The FBI stressed earlier this week that camera footage of Madalina stepping off a school bus on Nov. 21—two days before her mother claimed she last saw her—was the last verifiable sighting of her.
The FBI expressed their desire that “witnesses outside the family” who might “narrow down the exact timeframe of when she disappeared” would be prompted by the film.
Additionally, local police have urged citizens to “flood the region” with pictures of “her adorable face.”