3 months later, communities hold onto hope that missing 11-year-old Madalina Cojocari returns safely
It’s been three months since the last time an 11-year-old Cornelius girl was seen in public.
A video shows Madalina Cojocari getting off a school bus on Nov. 21, 2022.
She wasn’t reported missing until 22 days later.
Her mother, Diana Cojocari, and stepfather, Christopher Palmiter, are in jail after being charged with failure to report a missing child.
A city hangs onto hope
“It’s truly been a long three months for all the people in our town,” said Cornelius Mayor Woody Washam. “I want to find Madalina alive and that’s my hopes and prayers.”
Channel 9 asked Washam if we will have the opportunity to speak with the police department about the case since it has been three months.
“I’m sure you will at some point,” the mayor said. “It is an active investigation, and the most important part of this active investigation, as any investigation, is that we get a good resolution to it. And we finally can know what happened to Madalina.”
Washam didn’t go into details, but he said the police chief gives him weekly updates.
“I think we’re up to 400 to 500 leads, and every single one of those leads has been followed up on, been investigated and we just haven’t gotten that right one yet to lead us to where we need to go with this investigation,” Washam said.
Stephanie St. Marie lives two doors from Madalina’s home.
She has a sign posted on her front door that includes the missing person poster, along with “I can change the world.”
“It’s on her shirt, the little shirt that she’s wearing right here,” St. Marie said. “I don’t want people to forget. And I think maybe somebody that doesn’t know me, maybe the Amazon or UPS driver might knock on my door and see that sign and maybe it’ll be something that makes a difference.”
That is what many people want, which is to help make a difference.
“It’s disheartening,” she said. “I would like to have had some information before now, and it seems like the longer it goes on, maybe the less chance that we’re going to get some information and I hope that I’m wrong.”
Madison County connection
SBI agents and police have also searched in western North Carolina after Madalina’s mother was spotted in Madison County at a pull-off area west of Marshall.
A store near the search area has posted several missing person flyers of Madalina in hopes she is found safe.
“I don’t have a clue. I don’t know why she would have been up here,” said Johnny Moore, owner of the Lonesome Mountain Market.
Neighbors said investigators went door to door in early January and flew a chopper over the area.
“I hope they find her somewhere,” resident Pam Clarke said. “I hope she’s with some of her friends or something, somewhere and she’s OK. It’s scary to think of a child being missing.”
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