Search for missing 11-year-old girl expands to Lake Cornelius
“I can be the first to tell you, each case is different from the other,”
CORNELIUS, N.C. (WBTV) - As investigators desperately try to find 11-year-old Madalina Cojocari from Cornelius, the stepfather appeared before a judge Monday in Mecklenburg County.
WBTV learned investigators asked the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children to help in the case late last week.
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children tell WBTV that Cornelius Police reached out to them in the search efforts for Madalina Cojocari.
“We are helping in the poster distribution to keep her image out there in the public eye,” John Bischoff, vice president of the missing children division for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, said.
As national organizations get involved, the FBI Charlotte expanded the investigation by searching Lake Cornelius Monday as a precautionary measure. The lake is adjacent to Interstate 77 between the towns of Davidson and Cornelius.
“This is a big area to search, and it’s kind of a private lake over here, so to have something happen in this area is just very shocking,” said David Snyder, who lives close to the lake where the search is happening.
“It really hits close to home and not knowing the details, it’s kind of like did somebody come get the girl? Do I have to worry about my kids, you know?” Rich Brown, a neighbor in the community where Madalina lives, said.
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children tells WBTV that police are exploring all options to find Madalina, given the multiple agencies involved and the search expanding to the lake.
“I can be the first to tell you, each case is different from the other. They each have their own twist and turns and that’s why it’s very difficult at times for law enforcement to put the pieces together, as with us as well,” Bischoff said.
Related: Cornelius parents arrested for failing to report disappearance of 11-year-old girl
On Monday, the stepfather appeared before a judge virtually on charges of failing to report Madalina missing to the police.
The judge raised his bond to $200,000 at the request of the state, and they added neither parent gave information on where the 11-year-old was.
The stepfather, Christopher Palmiter, will have a bond hearing on Dec. 28 and a probable cause hearing on Jan. 19.
The mother, Diana Cojocari, is scheduled to appear in court Tuesday morning in Mecklenburg County.
“It’s a sad situation. I can’t even imagine for the poor little girl and the families; it’s just insane. I’m just praying to God that she’s found. That’s really all we can do,” Brown said.
Last year, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children saw 141 cases like Madalina’s and 24 remain open today.
“These cases do take some time. We all want the best, we all want them to be resolved very quickly, we all want answers,” said Bischoff.
The FBI said the best way the community can help in finding Madalina is by flooding the area the posters and pictures of her face.
They’re asking people to print the missing poster and hang them outside your home and business.
State Senator Natasha Marcus, who represents Mecklenburg County, says, hold your kids close.
“I would encourage parents of maybe her classmates, anyone who knew her, to talk to your kids. They might need a little counseling right now. This is the kind of stuff nightmares are made of,” Marcus said.
The family’s neighborhood is holding a vigil for Madalina on Tuesday night.
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