‘Our goal is to find Madalina’: Cornelius police chief speaks on missing girl’s birthday

CORNELIUS, N.C. — On Madalina Cojocari’s 12th birthday, the Cornelius Police Department invited the public to honor her.

It’s been months since Madalina Cojocari was last seen in Cornelius. She 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 didn’t report her missing until Dec. 15 -- 22 days later. Since then, her mother and stepfather have been charged with failure to report the disappearance of a child.

While Madalina’s whereabouts aren’t currently known, investigators say they’re still following up on leads and are hopeful for a break in the case.

Madalina’s 12th birthday was on Tuesday. The Cornelius Police Department invited the community to recognize her birthday at the department’s headquarters.


Tuesday was also the first time the Cornelius police chief, David Baucom, has spoken publicly about the case.

“Since this investigation began, we have followed up on hundreds of leads,” Baucom began.

He went through a list of submitted questions and, while not offering much more information, he replied to each of them individually.

“We are doing everything we can to find Madalina,” he said.

In response to a question that was asked about furniture burning in the backyard of the Cornelius home where Madalina lives, Baucom said they received one call for service that Diana Cojocari was reportedly burning items before Madalina was reported missing.

Baucom declined to give any more details.

“We simply cannot jeopardize the investigation, and any charges that may be forthcoming on anyone involved,” he said.

The community remains steadfast in finding answers.

“It’s sad that nobody has any clue of where she is or what happened to her,” said Eric Goodman, business owner. “It’s pretty much shaken the whole community.”

Local business owners, including Goodman, have kept the case in the public eye as residents experience fatigue in the case.

“I think at this point, with the amount of time it’s been, I think the general consensus is people don’t have much hope,” he said.

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

Hannah Goetz

Hannah Goetz, wsoctv.com

Hannah is a reporter for WSOC-TV.

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