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Crime News Missing Persons

North Carolina Police Believe Missing Girl Madalina Cojocari is Still Alive, a Year After She Vanished

“I believe she’s alive — I do, I do. I believe it in my heart,” Major Jennifer Thompson of the Cornelius Police Department said of missing Madalina Cojocari.

By Elisabeth Ford
A police handout of missing girl Madalina Cojocari

Police in North Carolina believe missing girl Madalina Cojocari, whose disappearance made headlines last year, is still alive as they continue their search for her.

Madalina, who was in sixth grade at the time, was last seen publicly in surveillance footage that shows her stepping off a school bus just before 5 p.m. on November 21, 2022.

RELATED: North Carolina Police Still Searching For Missing Madalina Cojocari, And Suspect Drug Or Human Trafficking Ties

What have police said about missing girl Madalina Cojocari?

“I believe she’s alive — I do, I do," Major Jennifer Thompson, second in command at the Cornelius Police Department, told WCCB of Madalina in an interview that aired this week. "I believe it in my heart, and it’s not one of those feelings where that’s just what I want to believe. It’s truly what I believe."

“I think it would be a disservice to Madalina if we lost hope — we’re just not gonna do that,” Thompson added.

Madalina’s mother, Diana Cojocari, and stepfather, Christopher Palmiter, didn’t report her missing until December 15, 2022, despite them telling investigators that they had last seen the then-11-year-old on the night of November 23.

Madalina Cojocari Bus Video

Thompson told WCCB that the first 48 hours of a missing persons case are the most crucial, but by the time Madalina was reported missing, it had been weeks since she had been seen last.

Authorities started their investigation into the girl’s disappearance at her residence. 

RELATED: Police Ask For More Help In Finding Madalina Cojocari, Months After Parents Failed To Report Disappearance

“I can’t go into details about specifically what we saw and what we observed or what felt odd in the house, but still, that’s Madalina’s house,” Thompson told WCCB, “so we knew that that’s where we needed to start with the investigation.”

Police said that school officials had repeatedly tried to contact the girl’s parents during the three weeks between when she was last seen and when she was reported missing, Oxygen.com previously reported. When the school’s resource officer attempted a home visit on December 12, there was no answer at the door. It wasn’t until a school meeting with the girl’s mother that she reported her daughter missing.

Police handouts of Christopher Palmiter and Diana Cojocari

The mother and stepfather were both arrested on December 17, 2022, for failure to report the disappearance of a child to law enforcement.

What have police said about Madalina Cojocari's parents waiting weeks to report her missing?

“I won’t comment specifically on their demeanor, but ... neither of them reported her missing,” Thompson said of Cojocari and Palmiter. “So, you can take that for however you want.”

Where are Madalina Cojocari's parents now?

Cojocari, Madalina's mom, remains in jail and is scheduled to appear in court in February of 2024. Her husband Palmiter made bail in August, WCCB reported.

RELATED: Madalina Cojocari's Mom, Prius Possibly Seen In North Carolina Mountains After Girl's Disappearance

When Thompson was asked if it's possible that more clues would have emerged had the couple not been in jail, Thompson replied: “I stand by the decision that we made and arresting the parents.”

And as for the missing girl, the officer had a message: “I want Madalina to know that there’s a lot of people looking for her. There’s a lot of law enforcement work in this to bring her home, and if she’s able to see it, I want her to know that she has a whole community that loves her and an agency that is devoted to, to bringing her home.”

Police ask anyone with information on the Madalina’s disappearance to contact the Cornelias Police Department at 704-892-7773.

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