Missing North Carolina girl Madalina Cojocari’s search focuses attention on new suspect

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A missing North Carolina girl’s mother is now a suspect in her November 2022 disappearance, police said Tuesday. 

Madalina Cojocari, 11 at the time, was last seen getting off a school bus at 4:59 p.m. on Nov. 21, 2022. 

“(Madalina’s) mother, Diana Cojocari, is considered a suspect in her disappearance,” Cornelius Police said in a statement on Facebook. “We want to #FindMadalina. This has been our priority since we learned she was missing.”

Cojocari pleaded guilty in May to a criminal charge of failing to report a missing child. She did not tell law enforcement Madalina was missing until Dec. 15, 2022 and admitted to police she had not seen her daughter since Nov. 23, 2022. 

WHAT HAPPENS AFTER MADALINA COJOCARI’S MOM’S GUILTY PLEA?

Law enforcement has not released details about why they believe Cojocari is now a suspect, but no arrests have been made nor charges filed.

Lawyer Timothy Cannady, who is not involved in the case, speculated in an interview with WCNC Charlotte about potential new developments that led police to officially name Cojocari a suspect. 

MISSING FOR ONE YEAR: ‘NOT GOING TO STOP UNTIL WE FIND HER’

“There’s probably some level of new evidence that they’ve got,” Cannady said. That new evidence could be “something that points to not just her failure to report her daughter missing but that she actually played an active role in her daughter going missing.”

“If they’re (Cojacari’s parents) charged with, say, murder, or some kind of homicide offense or some kind of kidnapping offense, they could be essentially tried twice or charged for the different things,” he told the local news outlet. 

Cojocari and her husband, Christopher Palmiter, who is Madalina’s stepfather, did not report Madalina missing to police until Dec. 15, 2022, weeks after she was last seen. 

They even admitted to police the last time they saw Madalina was at home the evening of Nov. 23, 2022.

MISSING NORTH CAROLINA GIRL’S MOTHER WANTED TO SMUGGLE 11-YEAR-OLD FROM HOME: WARRANT

Leads have taken authorities from the Charlotte area to the mountains of western North Carolina, but there have been no signs of the missing girl for nearly two years.

Now, Cornelius police are looking in their own backyard at the woman who was supposed to care for her daughter. 

WATCH: INTERVIEW WITH CORNELIUS POLICE CHIEF

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Police urged the public to continue to share Madalina’s picture on social media and call in tips to detectives at 704-892-7773.

Fox News Digital’s Audrey Conklin contributed to this report.