CORNELIUS, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) – The parents of 11-year-old Madalina Cojocari were arrested Saturday morning in connection to her disappearance and concerns are mounting over her whereabouts with the FBI and SBI now involved in the investigation.

Her stepfather Christopher Palmiter, 60, and Diana Cojocari, 37, were charged with failure to report the disappearance of a child to law enforcement. They initially reported her missing to her school, Bailey Middle, three weeks after they said they had last seen her, Cornelius Police said.

Christopher was scheduled to appear in a Mecklenburg County court at 9 a.m. Monday and Diana on Tuesday at the same time. Each was held on a $100,000 bond, according to the Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office. During Monday’s court appearance, the state said Diana and Christopher have not provided any information on the girls’ whereabouts. Christopher’s next court date will be next Wednesday.

Mom, stepdad of missing Cornelius girl arrested, FBI involved

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Neighbors were devastated to learn that the young girl was not only missing — but she had been for about three weeks.

Photo Credit: Mecklenburg County Sheriff

She lives with both parents, according to the FBI. Cornelius police began investigating the missing juvenile report on December 15. Charlotte FBI and the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigations announced their involvement in the case on Friday.

“It is standard practice for the FBI to be involved in the search of a missing child younger than 12,” the FBI told Queen City News in a statement. 

QCN asked the FBI why it took so long for the parents to report the disappearance and whether the disappearance is officially being classified as “suspicious,” and they say it’s part of the investigation.

Photo Credit: Cornelius Police

Neighbors reported seeing authorities searching the home on Friday, looking for any clues or evidence as to where the young girl could be or what could’ve happened to her. 

Off-camera, neighbors say they’re devastated. They knew the family to be nice but quiet people. They remember seeing Cojocari get off the bus every day and run right home.

Anyone with information is encouraged to call authorities.