CHARLOTTE, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) — As of Thursday afternoon, the search warrants executed at Madalina Cojocari’s Cornelius home on Dec. 21 are still not available to the public.
Though search warrants are public records and would likely reveal what authorities took from the 11-year-old girl’s home, there are several reasons for a delay.
Local criminal defense attorney Mark Jetton says law enforcement agencies can request a judge seal the search warrant if they feel it would jeopardize the integrity of their investigation. As of Thursday, there was no evidence of a court order sealing the warrant.
The other possibility is that Cornelius police officials still need to return the warrant to the courthouse. State law says search warrants are public records, but it does not specify when law enforcement must file them in cases.
“This certainly could be part of their investigation. (They could be saying) ‘Hey, we’re not going to return it to the clerk’s office because we don’t want to get it out to the public,'” Jetton said.
When it comes to the search warrant, Cornelius Police said in a statement, “Any unreturned documents are still being processed by law enforcement and will be returned upon completion. CPD is taking all measure to ensure a thorough investigation, including practice of the utmost diligence.”
Jetton believes that while the delay in releasing the search warrant may indicate that law enforcement found evidence within the home, it is more likely that police do not want to hinder the investigation by releasing the details of their search.
“In every investigation that goes on, the folks that are in the investigation, the law enforcement, they always know much more than they’re leading on,” he said.
We also asked Cornelius Police to comment on the discrepancy in timelines Madalina’s parents gave to the police. In Diana Cojocari’s arrest report, it indicates Madalina’s mother told investigators she last saw her daughter on Nov. 23. In Christopher Palmiter’s arrest report, it suggests that he told investigators he did not see his stepdaughter since a week before that.
“The timeline of Madalina’s disappearance is a critical part of CPD’s investigation,” Cornelius Police said. “Our officers are working tirelessly to build a comprehensive timeline of events, and we continue to ask for the public’s submission of any eyewitness accounts or sightings.”