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Cornelius News

Missing Madalina: FBI computer experts will be called in trial of step-father

May 20. By Mark Washburn. Computer experts from the FBI are expected to testify this week in the trial of Christopher Palmiter, the stepfather of missing teenager Madalina Cojocari, who vanished from Cornelius on Thanksgiving weekend 2022.

According to documents filed this week in Mecklenburg Superior Court, prosecutors intend to call Jason Whitt and Laura Haller, both digital forensics experts in the agency’s Charlotte-based computer analysis response team.


Whitt is one of the senior-most digital analysts in the FBI’s Carolinas operations with more than 20 years experience in the field. He was recently honored by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of North Carolina for contributions to multiple prosecutions.

Haller has more than five years with the U.S. Justice Department.

Trial starts Monday

Palmiter, who has been living at the family’s home in Victoria Bay since last August, is accused of failing to report a child’s disappearance. Cornelius Police have said that Madalina Cojocari had been gone for three weeks when Bailey Middle School authorities contacted the parents asking why the sixth-grader hadn’t been attending. They were subsequently told that Madalina hadn’t been seen since Nov. 23, 2022.

Both Palmiter and Madalina’s mother, Diana Cojocari, were arrested and charged with neglecting to report her disappearance. Neither parent has told investigators what happened to the girl, whose 13th birthday would have been in April.

Three search warrants were executed on their residence at 18413 Victoria Bay Drive in Cornelius.

Madalina Cojocari

Electronic trail

Court documents showed that among the items seized were electronic devices, including three cell phones. Cornelius Police also picked up one of Palmiter’s old hard drives from a local computer repair business.

Many of the other items taken by investigators were redacted in public records and remain unknown.

Palmiter was released from the Mecklenburg County Jail Oct. 24, 2023 on $25,000 bond and has remained free since.

The mother

A firm trial date for Cojocari, 39, has not been set.

Cojocari is a native of Moldova, a former Soviet republic in Eastern Europe bordered by Ukraine and Romania. She holds a Romanian passport; Madalina holds a passport for Moldova and Romania. Both were later found in a search of Cojocari’s car.

Felony matter

Failure to report the disappearance of a child to law enforcement, is a Class I felony punishable by up to two years of prison. In addition to the FBI, the State Bureau of Investigation is assisting Cornelius Police in the case.

Do you have information?

If you have information about the disappearance of Madalina Cojocari, call Cornelius detectives at 704-892-7773.

Missing Madalina: Last independent sighting Nov. 21, 2022 on CMS bus