Community prays for Madalina Cojocari one year after she vanished

Tuesday marks one year since 12-year-old Madalina Cojocari was last seen in public. The Cornelius community gathered to make it very clear they hadn’t given up on finding the girl alive.

Cojocari was last seen walking off a school bus on Nov. 21, 2022. Her mother, Diana Cojocari, last saw her at their Cornelius home on Nov. 23, 2022, but didn’t report her missing until Dec. 15, 2022.

‘We pray’

Every person inside the town hall has likely asked the same question multiple times over the past year: Where is Madalina Cojocari?

Jasmine Stewart brought her son to the gathering.

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“I’m a mother in the community and my son goes to Bailey this year,” Stewart said.

He attends the school where Madalina is a student.

“We want to show love and support for her,” Stewart said. “She’s a little girl who never went back to school.”

“She was 11 years old then. Today, she is 12,” Stewart said.

There were tea lights and the group held hands to show faith and hope.

“We pray and trust that your protective arms are fully embraced around her,” said Chaplain Paul Turbesky.

It’s a tragedy the town of Cornelius has never dealt with and is still trying to find its way out of.

Commissioner Colin Furcht said it has been emotionally draining.

“There are still stores in the community that have her picture,” Furcht said. “It does come up occasionally in conversation. I wouldn’t say it’s an everyday thing.”

He said the community has been leaning on each other.

“I think it shows that we can’t forget, and we have to keep searching,” Furcht said. “Whatever the result is, if she’s with us, or if she’s not with us, I just think we need to know, so we can move forward.”

The investigation

Since then, her mother and stepfather, Christopher Palmiter, have been charged with failure to report the disappearance of a child.

Diana Cojocari remains in jail with a bond set at $250,000. Christopher Palmiter was released on bond in August.

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Search warrants obtained by Channel 9 revealed a recorded jail call between Diana and her mother. During the call, the women discuss a bag with money, withdrawing cash, and a “theory that Chris gave the girl away for money.”

Documents also revealed investigators collected several phones and searched Diana Cojocari’s home to look for any evidence of violence.

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