CORNELIUS, N.C. — This weekend marks one month since 11-year-old Madalina Cojocari was reported missing by her mother, Diana Cojocari, to a Bailey Middle School resource officer.
However, it's been longer than that, 53 days, since the last confirmed sighting of Madalina getting off the school bus in her neighborhood. Cornelius police haven't given any updates on the investigation this week.
Community members raised around $850 to bring lunch and dinner to the Cornelius Police Department to say thank you for all they’ve done so far.
“This kind of stuff doesn’t happen, so we really wanted to do something to give back to them and I know they’ve been having a hard time with all of this and it's heartbreaking,” Lauren Conard, a Cornelius resident said.
The town's communications manager released the following statement to WCNC Charlotte:
“We’re incredibly grateful for all of the support our community has shown during this challenging time. Our officers have been touched by your well-wishes, contributions, positivity, and love. CPD’s top priority is finding Madalina, and there’s nothing they won’t do to make that happen. We’re thankful to have all of you by our sides as the investigation continues.”
Investigators are now nearly a month into an intense search for Madalina. It’s led them to Madison County North Carolina, where they continue to ask anyone who may have seen Madalina’s mother, or a Toyota Prius, to come forward.
“It’s just kind of a put a heavy feeling on everyone,” Conard said. “First it was shocking and really, we just want to have her back home whatever that looks like really just to bring that peace. It’s been hard for everyone.”
Diana Cojocari and her husband, Christopher Palmiter, have been in custody since Dec. 17. They were indicted by a grand jury on felony charges of failure to report a missing child. It took them three weeks to tell a school resource officer she was missing.
Search warrants that were unsealed on Tuesday show police are looking into both Cojocari and Palmiter’s cellphone data. Experts say that data can help pinpoint approximately where a phone was at a certain time, likely along with the person who owns it.
Police also searched their home three times. The community is hoping for more answers soon.
“We support what they’re doing and sometimes we may not think they’re doing enough, or we may be like we’d be doing this we’d be out searching. I’ve even said that myself, but we don’t know what is going on behind closed doors,” Conard said. “We have to be respectful of that. They are the professionals, and we are not, and we trust them so just to let them know we trust them we support them and we’re here to help them in any way that we can.”
Madalina’s mother and stepfather will be back in court in early March.
Contact Chloe Leshner at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.