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Cornelius Police Chief says the search for Madalina Cojocari is not a ‘cold case’

CORNELIUS, N.C. — Cornelius Police Chief David Baucom hoped to reassure the Cornelius community on Tuesday that the investigation into the disappearance of 11-year-old Madalina Cojocari is not a cold case.

Cojocari was seen walking off a school bus on Nov. 21, 2022. Her mother, Diana Cojocari, last saw her at their Cornelius home on Nov. 23, but her mother didn’t report her missing until Dec. 15, 22 days later.

Baucom addressed Madalina’s case and the next steps in the investigation during a breakfast open to the community.

“The next steps are what we’re doing right now. We’re still following up on leads. It is still an active investigation,” Baucom said.

In January, Diana Cojocari and Christopher Palmiter, Madalina’s stepfather, each were indicted by a grand jury on the charge of failing to report the disappearance of a child to law enforcement.

Baucom made it known his department is doing everything it can to bring Madalina home and said the case has not gone cold.

“This is not a cold case. We have detectives working this case every single day,” Baucom said. “We just can’t talk about it. Just because we’re not talking about it, doesn’t mean we’re not doing anything.”

Mecklenburg County Commissioner Pat Cotham attended the breakfast and said she was glad the work continues to find Madalina.

“I was glad to hear that they are working on it constantly,” Cotham said. “And they don’t consider it a cold case. It’s an active case. That made me feel a lot better.”


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Cotham said this is a tragedy that’s still on her mind along with so many others.

“I know everyone misses her – her family and her friends at her school,” Cotham said. “So, hopefully she’ll be returned soon.”

Baucom is confident Madalina will be found.

“We’re going to find her. That’s been our goal from the start,” Baucom said. “We’re going to find Madalina. It may not be today, it may not be tomorrow, but we’re not going to stop.”

Channel 9 spoke with a retired FBI special agent who investigated disappearances.

“They’ve got to connect all that evidence,” said Rich Kolko, retired FBI special agent. “Did somebody drive to the house? Can they find video surveillance? Can they find pings on cellphone towers? Is there DNA evidence of the girl ever getting into one of these cars?

Kolko said detectives will treat the case as a rescue mission until they have a reason to think otherwise.

“This is not a standard kidnapping or missing person’s case,” Kolko said. “There are a lot of tentacles into this investigation.”

Kolko said there are a lot of people to speak with in the case.

“Law enforcement has worked hard to develop not only a suspect list, but a witness list,” Kolko said.

Officials are still asking for the public’s help to solve the case. If you have any information, you are asked to contact the Cornelius Police Department.

(WATCH BELOW: Search warrants show what investigators are looking for in Madalina Cojocari case)

Almiya White

Almiya White, wsoctv.com

Almiya White is a reporter for WSOC-TV

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