CORNELIUS, N.C. — On Thursday night, a vigil was held to support Madalina Cojocari and the efforts to find her, the same day her family spoke for the first time in a letter released by Cornelius police.
Cojocari was reported missing from her Cornelius home on Dec. 15, which was 22 days after her mom told police she last saw her.
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Police said they were last able to confirm Madalina’s location on Nov. 21, which is when surveillance video shows her getting off her school bus at 4:59 p.m. Cornelius police arrested the 11-year-old’s mom and stepdad in connection to her disappearance.
“My heart hurts for her,” said Jules Wyatt, the owner of the In Tune Soul Sangha Healing and Meditation Community Center.
The vigil started at 7 p.m. at the center.
“It’s important that we use our choices and we use our energy to let her know that we’re advocating for her,” Wyatt said. “To let her know she is loved, to let her know that she is good.”
She’s prepared candles for people to light, igniting prayer and hope for Madalina’s safe return.
“When we find her, she will be protected,” she said.
The letter written by Madalina’s family lifted their spirits.
“The only two people that we know that she’s connected with are in jail, and she slipped through their fingers one way or another,” Wyatt said. “So to know there is compassion and there is empathy toward her from a family member honestly brought me a deep breath of relief.”
As a part of this candlelight vigil, participants wrote notes to Madalina to send positive, hopeful energy her way in hopes that she will return safe and sound.
Nicolee Pulliam and her daughter FiFi left a note.
“We just said a short, little message,” said Pulliam. “We said, ‘Stay strong. You are very loved and protected. Love, Nicolee and FiFi.’”
The next time you are on the interstate, you may see Madalina's sweet face. Our partners at Adams Outdoor Advertising donated space on digital billboards across the Charlotte area to help us #FindMadalina. Call the Cornelius Police Department at 704-892-7773 or 1-800-Call FBI. pic.twitter.com/YCqBev8K7F— Cornelius Police Department (@CorneliusPD) December 22, 2022
Cornelius Mayor Pro Tem Dave Gilroy says investigators are working tirelessly to make that happen as the community rallies around Madalina.
“Nothing matters other than finding this little girl safe and sound, and there’s nothing our community can do than hope and pray and allow these extraordinary professionals to get the work done,” Gilroy said.
‘Pray together and hope’
About 200 people attended a vigil for Madalina that was held Tuesday night at Smithville Park.
Levon Handsome, of Cornelius, said that the dark sky above the park mirrored the darkness she feels in her community.
“I’m shocked because this is a great neighborhood and we don’t have any crime,” she said. “We don’t have any issues. There are literally no issues, so I was shocked. I was completely shocked.”
>> If you have information, call the Cornelius Police Department at 704-892-7773 or 1-800-CALL FBI.
People from Cornelius and surrounding areas shared the same sentiment after learning of Madalina’s disappearance.
Organizer Sheila Richardson said it’s better to feel hope than helplessness.
“What we can do today is just gather as a community, and just pray together and hope,” she said.
“We know that she’s still out here somewhere,” said Chanda Dubose, of Davidson. “We’re praying for her. Praying for her life.”
The FBI in Michigan and North Carolina, the State Bureau of Investigation and the Cornelius Police Department are investigating Madalina’s disappearance.
Both Diana Cojocari, Madalina’s mother, and Christopher Palmiter, her stepfather, are being held at the Mecklenburg County jail.
(WATCH BELOW: School bus video shows last time missing 11-year-old Cornelius girl was seen, police say)
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