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Mother of missing 12-year-old girl in North Carolina discussed a theory that stepfather gave girl away for money, warrant shows

<i>FBI</i><br/>Madalina was last seen wearing jeans; pink
Madalina was last seen wearing jeans; pink

By Rebekah Riess, Emma Tucker and Travis Nichols, CNN

(CNN) — A newly unsealed search warrant in the case of missing 12-year-old Madalina Cojocari reveals that her mother, who was arrested for failing to report the girl’s disappearance, and grandmother discussed a theory that the child’s stepfather had given her away for money.

Madalina’s mother, Diana Cojocari, 37, and her stepfather, Christopher Palmiter, 60, were arrested on December 17 for failure to report the disappearance of a child to law enforcement, police said.

The Mecklenburg District Attorney’s Office told CNN there are no new charges in the case.

Madalina, who would now be 12 years old, was last seen at her home in Cornelius, North Carolina, about 20 miles north of Charlotte, on November 23, but her parents took until December 15 to report her missing to a resource officer at Bailey Middle School, where she attended.

Both Cojocari and Palmiter are being held at the Mecklenburg County Detention Center, according to records.

CNN has reached out to Palmiter’s public defender, Brandon Roseman, and Cojocari’s public defender, Susan Weigand, for comment on their behalf. According to the probable cause affidavits filed by police in the case, both adults denied knowledge of Madalina’s whereabouts.

According to the warrant, issued in March of this year, Madalina’s mother and grandmother discussed a theory that Palmiter “gave the girl away for money” during a recorded jail phone call. They also discussed a “bag with money” and “withdrawing cash,” the warrant says.

Investigators then asked for access to bank records, the warrant shows, which they believed would “allow investigators to establish a financial pattern for Chris Palmiter and may contain information pertaining to the disappearance of Madalina.”

CNN has reached out to the Cornelius Police Department but has not heard back.

During another recorded jail phone call between Palmiter and his brother and sister-in-law, Palmiter mentioned the girl’s mother “had a lot of cash with her and he did not know where it came from.” Palmiter also told his family there was “financial stuff” coming up and his brother told him not to worry about it, the warrant states.

Officers searched the family’s home in December and seized more than two dozen items, including three cell phones, CNN previously reported. Other items taken in the search were redacted from an inventory document.

Madalina was last seen wearing jeans; pink, purple and white Adidas shoes; and a white T-shirt and jacket, authorities said. The FBI described her as 4-foot-10 inches and weighing 90 pounds, and a photo released to the public shows a softly smiling girl wearing a shirt that reads, “I can change the world with love.”

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