The mother and stepfather of a missing 11-year-old girl from North Carolina have been arrested, accused of waiting more than three weeks to report the child’s disappearance.
Madalina Cojocari was last seen at her home in Cornelius on the evening of Nov. 23, according to the Cornelius Police Department.
But it wasn’t until last Thursday that Madalina’s family reported the girl as missing to a school resource officer at Bailey Middle School, where the 11-year-old attends sixth grade.
The local police department launched an investigation into Madalina’s disappearance that same day.
The FBI and the State Bureau of Investigation are now assisting with the case.
On Saturday, police arrested Madalina’s mother, Diana Cojocari, 37, and stepfather Christopher Palmiter, 60, charging each with one count of failure to report the disappearance of a child to law enforcement.
The couple were booked into Mecklenburg County Detention Center where they remained Monday.
Law enforcement officials said in a Facebook post Monday they have expanded the search for Madalina to include Lake Cornelius, located not far from her family’s home, which they scoured by boat.
“We are conducting additional land and water searches as a precautionary measure,” officials wrote.
The FBI’s Charlotte field office likewise noted in a social media post the lake search is a “precautionary measure” and is simply “part of the normal investigative process.”
It comes just days after investigators were seen digging in the family’s backyard and searching the home, reported WCCB Charlotte. They did not reveal whether they found any clues related to Madalina’s disappearance.
Madalina was last seen wearing jeans, pink, purple and white Adidas shoes, and a white t-shirt and jacket.
She is described as having brown hair and brown eyes, standing at 4 feet 10 inches tall, and weighing around 90 pounds.
Anyone with information about Madalina’s whereabouts is asked to call the Cornelius Police Department at 704-892-7773.