New images emerge of missing girl who disappeared last year amid allegations her stepfather sold her

North Carolina police obtained surveillance photos showing a man and a girl who matched the description of missing 12-year-old Madalina Cojocari after her disappearance, newly unsealed search warrants have revealed.

Madalina was last seen at school in late November 2022, but her mother Diana Cojocari, 37 and stepfather Christopher Palmiter, 60, did not report her missing to the police until 15 December.

The North Carolina police’s Sugar Mountain police department had obtained the surveillance photos from 16 December showing a girl and a man, said to be Madalina’s “only blood relative known” to live in the US, the documents stated.

The newly unsealed warrant applications from December last year and March 2023 provide additional information, showing Ms Cojocari sent a text message on 2 December last year, suggesting she was in the company of the missing child.

Two days later, on 4 December, Ms Cojocari claimed to be searching for Madalina in the mountains of North Carolina.

On 3 December 2022, Ms Cojocari was spotted at a service station in Hickory, North Carolina, where she got an oil change for her car.

The attendant confirmed children’s toys were in the vehicle, but there was no sign of Madalina inside the car, according to the information in one of the warrant applications from 19 December 2022.

“On December 16, 2022, Sugar Mountain Police Department provided surveillance photographs of a man and a young female. The man in the surveillance images was physically consistent in appearance with Octavian Cebanu, the only blood relative known to live in the United States,” the document said.

“The young female in the surveillance images was physically consistent with the missing child, Madalina Cojocari.”

One of the unsealed warrants also revealed Ms Cojocari and Madalina’s grandmother discussed the theory that the girl had been sold by her stepfather, reported CNN.

The warrant, issued in March, had Madalina’s mother and grandmother discuss the theory during a recorded jail phone call that Mr Palmiter “gave the girl away for money”. They also discussed a “bag with money” and “withdrawing cash,” the warrant said.

Ms Cojocari and her husband, Madalina’s stepfather Mr Palmiter, were arrested in December for failure to report the disappearance of a child to law enforcement.

The warrant also said Ms Cojocari contacted Mr Cebanu to “smuggle” her and Madalina away from their home as she was in a “bad relationship” with Mr Palmiter.

“This is a serious case of a child whose parents clearly are not telling us everything they know,” Cornelius police captain Jennifer Thompson said in a video statement earlier this year.

“We know everyone has a lot of questions. We also have questions and are doing everything we can, with proper legal authority, to get those answers.”

“Ms Cojocari and Mr Palmiter were adamant they did not know where Madalina could be,” the warrant applications stated.