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Cornelius News

Hundreds attend candle-light vigil for Madalina

Missing Madalina: Candle-light vigil in Smithville Park

Dec. 21. By Dave Yochum. Only days before Christmas, hundreds of people from her neighborhood, the rest of Cornelius and Lake Norman came together for a candle-light vigil for 11-year-old Madalina Cojocari who has been missing for nearly a month.

They shared remembrances of the Bailey Middle sixth-grader, prayed and sang, concluding with Amazing Grace led by Lake Norman Baptist Church lead pastor Anson Hanbury, himself a resident of Victoria Bay where Madalina was last seen independently getting off a school bus Nov. 21.

Madalina is 11 years old and loves ice cream

On the second-darkest night of the year, teary-eyed children and adults lit up Smithville Park with candles.

It was over in less than an hour but the search continues.

On Monday and Tuesday, the search extended to Lake Cornelius near the YMCA.

A recap

Madalina’s mother, Diana Cojocari, 35, and stepfather, Christopher Palmiter, 60, were arrested Saturday for failure to report the disappearance of a child to law enforcement just two days into the investigation.

Their accounts of when they last saw her differ, but the mother said it was Tuesday, Nov. 23, so it’s about a month since the girl was last seen. (Palmiter stated it was the week before, according to the arrest sheet.)

The FBI is actively involved as the case gains national attention. It’s the FBI’s “Most Wanted: Case of the Week.”

D Cojocari

Diana Cojocari’s bond was set at $250,000; her husband’s at $200,000.



According to the Cornelius Police Dept., Madalina was last seen wearing jeans; pink, purple and white Adidas shoes; and a white T-shirt and jacket. She is 4 feet, 10 inches, has dark brown hair and weighs about 90 pounds.

Anyone with information on Madalina’s whereabouts is being asked to call the Cornelius Police Department at 704-892-7773 or the FBI at 1-800-CALL FBI. To remain anonymous, call North Mecklenburg Crime Stoppers at 704-896-7867.

FBI poster for Madalina