The search for Cleo leads Connie to investigate a headstone belonging to a 13-year-old girl who died in 1978. The cemetery is more than 20 hours away from Arkansas, where Cleo's family has long believed she was killed.


00:00:00this is a CBC original podcast
00:00:10previously on missing and murdered finding Cleo Laine alive just so I can fulfill his promise and so just went through a bunch of different databases it was getting late it was like midnight at this point the searching searching girl used first name Cleo and birth year 1965 and up came that hit with the first name of my heart's so name birthdate of potential grave marker and also a small town we need to go to New Jersey
00:00:59I'm Connie Walker and this is missing and murdered finding Cleo and investigative
00:01:14my producer Marty and I are in a rental car we just turned off the New Jersey Turnpike trying to find a small Township called Medford in Burlington County pacifically we're looking for the old Parkview Cemetery from your destination
00:01:54where is the grave of a young girl named Cleo who died in 1978 how are you feeling and this kind of feels like a long shot but either might actually be the clue searching for someone somewhere just randomly uploaded a picture of a headstone for a girl named Cleo on to a website called find a grave.com
00:02:38the website says this photo was taken from this Cemetery but we need to confirm that it actually was and we're not sure if that Cleo is the same girl that we've been searching for the girls was born in Saskatchewan and adopted into this state more than 40 years ago cleotha Magnus
00:03:00I was the one to find it
00:03:03why not I don't know I just feel like I'm not sure I just
00:03:09not that I don't want to find this but
00:03:15just feels weird to be here at this point at this time
00:03:21it's a sunny morning in late May Memorial Day is coming up so there are dozens and dozens of little American flags next to the headstones are veterans throughout the cemetery we started the East End walkthrough row by row looking at every headstone for the name Cleo and I realize it could take a while to check everyone
00:03:45it looks like it would be one of those smaller ones those gray ones likes like that one it says Roberta Adams a copy of the photo that I found online for a small gray headstone but with a little curve on top
00:04:03but just never cross posted it told us in an e-mail this finding and posting pictures of gravesites is a hobby of hers she's uploaded thousands of photos on findagrave.com and didn't remember finding this particular one looking for love a daughter daughter clear Elum Adonia so it says beloved daughter Cleo El medano May 7th 1965 to December 22nd 1978 of the girl who died in 1978
00:04:41this is the Cleo we've been searching for that are closer than ever to solving the mystery surrounding her death
00:04:56it's quiet here which is good because I imagine where a strange sight with a microphone and Camera walking through standing each and every headstone in the middle that looks like to see what this little snowman and it looks kind of old
00:05:13we haven't told Cleo siblings about our trip. We don't want to get their hopes up for something that could turn out to be a wild goose chase before we tell them anything we need to find this Cleo's grave site and try to find out who she is and how she died we need to be 100% certain whether or not this is actually their sister the Cleo they've been searching for four decades
00:05:39do you think that's it
00:05:44well let's go check I don't think it says beloved daughter
00:05:48tipis no no Rodger button
00:05:59Madonia Madonia
00:06:03crosses hanging out look like
00:06:26so small
00:06:32we found it is great
00:06:38look smaller than the others but it is it, yeah
00:06:47stop by itself
00:06:50it feels too real to be standing here of a girl who no matter who she is.
00:07:01it doesn't look like anyone's been here to see it in a while
00:07:06beloved daughter Cleo Alma Donia May 7th 1965 to December 22nd 1978 that's right before Christmas and she would have been 13 Everclear Cleo from Saskatchewan or
00:07:24clam Adonia someone else
00:07:27before we got here we searched online for any information about Cleo Madonia but all that came up was the photo of this headstone from find a grave.com
00:07:38we're only in town for a few days if we're going to find out if this is Cleo's to Megan is on the ground
00:07:51OCC booking
00:07:58how are you
00:08:00across the street a woman comes out of her house with her two dogs we were looking for a particular there a girl who died I think around 1978 her and her name was Cleo and she was adopted into New Jersey SS name again Madonia Madonna Madonia okay
00:08:37so you don't know any madonias I've been around here a long time I didn't I don't recognize that at all
00:08:48any recollection from around that time like in the 70s did you ever hear anything about a young girl dying or anything like that
00:08:56what do you mean strangely
00:09:00well we don't know actually but we heard that she might have been killed
00:09:04whoa 78 okay have you have you got in touch with the man that runs a cemetery picture of something yeah yeah and what's your name
00:09:23I hope you find it earlier or I would help you if you can cuz he keeps quotes records
00:09:34there are two parking cemeteries in Medford New Jersey the old one where we are and the brand new one just a few minutes away
00:09:46a visit to Earl at the new Mausoleum and crematorium psychological Next Step Cemetery or even if they have them what will be able to ask that but it's not unheard of for Cemetery records to include a death certificate which may also list a cause of death
00:10:10good it's early today okay let me know that you're here I am reporter from CBC Canadian Broadcasting Corporation too :-) we're working on a story about a Canadian girl who was adopted from Canada into New Jersey in the 70s and her siblings are looking for her but they don't know any information about where she died or what happened to her her name is Cleo gravesites from who died in 1978 on December 22nd and she has the same birth year is the clear we're looking for so we're wondering if that's the Cleo that we're actually looking for
00:11:1112 through here
00:11:16Texas away from the reception centers in a code for a locked door in a few dark rooms to his office
00:11:26every Pastor the room I noticed a strange smell that reminds me where we are in Irving sit behind a small cluttered desk has a laptop open in front of him and took a picture along with a big fan near the ceiling when you walk in there's also a little fan on his desk
00:11:59when this is all the information I would have one of them I don't know if I'd be able to tell who
00:12:07doing it as I have a book that says who's the owner
00:12:13I would look up the obituary somehow and find out if your vector was funeral director may have the actual death certificate and see
00:12:25m a d o n i a
00:12:31when should I go 78 the right here and it's the right name
00:12:37so I'm going to go into her grave book one it says page reference number 108 for the government to 108 it's a small Ledger every entry is hand-written it says where each grave site is in the old cemetery and the name of the people who paid for the pots and it should be gravy dr60 4.4
00:13:07so what is his name Lewis and Lee Madonia date just says 1978 they paid $250 for the grave so Lewis and Lee is probably the parents of that child
00:13:28are they just purchased the one the one grave obviously contains the names of the people who adopted her and the full name of the daughter they buried
00:13:49here we go
00:13:52Cleopatra Cleopatra Madonia Madonia I was done by Bradley Funeral Home
00:14:08says age 13
00:14:12if that was her full name Cleopatra
00:14:15what was the festival name of the girl that were looking for
00:14:22she's right here
00:14:27Patra remarkable coincidences
00:14:43but that's one of the best funeral homes in New Jersey Bradley funeral home you can go talk to Jill Joe Bradley Ingram she's the owner actually her father was here just a few minutes ago
00:14:55they would have records pack that the funeral home would have maybe a death certificate or something like that
00:15:05is there an obituary that far back but you can go to Bradley Funeral Home in Aspen
00:15:15thank you very much is a pleasure I hope
00:15:25we leave the cemetery office and arrive at Bradley funeral home one town over in Marlton New Jersey
00:15:32Joe Bradley Bradley manager
00:15:46okay well we'll have to come back tomorrow
00:15:50should I go to the library
00:15:52the library is up and if I can Burlington okay that's a far away
00:16:02we contacted the local library and they sent us an obituary for Cleo Madonia it appeared in the local paper in 1978 it said private funeral services were held for Cleo El Madonia 13 of Marlton she is survived by her parents Luis J and leanora Madonia and her brother Luis a we searched online for information about Madonna and it looks like her father died a few years ago we find an address for her mother in Marlton New Jersey what the circumstances were ready to reach out to her yet
00:16:42hey there wondering where we could access old newspapers and microphone
00:16:47we go to the library in person because if we have the right Cleo and she was murdered there could be something in the local paper about the crime
00:17:00we start scrolling through reels of microphone
00:17:05who's going to go all the way to the end and then come back
00:17:10Lucy was there on the 22nd to the 26th
00:17:17what is the fur if she died on the 22nd isn't the first time anything would potentially to be in the paper
00:17:25this is the 24th decompose skeletal remains of human body was found new trial or Durant injured girls or Hunters discover decomposed body a lot of crime in the news in 1978 John Wayne Gacy Jr John Wayne Gacy had just confessed to killing over two dozen Boys in Illinois boarding on homicides assault in suicides in the state police and Burlington County Major Crimes unit are investigating to determine if it is a possible homicide
00:18:00December 20th okay
00:18:03remains found out an attack on a teenager attempted rape in Medford which is really close to Marlton right because I was 7th 1978 here and us getting attempted rape of the Cherry Hill teenager last Wednesday investigator said the girl was hitchhiking she was picked up by a man described in his late twenties operating a medium to full size car with red body and white vinyl top she was taken to Laurel field in Medford where the alleged attack
00:18:41occurred shortly after 7 p.m. the victim said the driver gave his name is either Mike or John that he was from Pennsauken
00:18:52oh my God
00:18:55we have no idea who this girl is familiar the girl in the paper survive the attack it happened in early December 3 weeks before but I can't help but think about Cleo and the story that her that you tried to hitchhike back home to Saskatchewan and was picked up and assaulted before she was killed I want her again truth there is to that story that Christine wrote the story that started us on this journey I hope that while we're here we get some concrete answers
00:19:39the 26th was the day that she was buried at 7 right
00:19:45Katie said the death notices for Tuesday December 26th William Andrews William Finnegan Mary and Lee Kitchen of Cleo Madonia about the murder of a young girl in Marlton
00:20:04may I have your attention please the library will be closing in 45 minutes can you have any monetary transactions to complete
00:20:18going to be a short drive
00:20:216 minutes away where we off to the next morning
00:20:34good morning how are you how are you doing it's Jill Bradley here no she's not she's out running errands and then anyone else we could talk to her over and take someone to the Crematory I'm so we're actually we were over at the Medford Cemetery looking for this Greystone it was a girl who died in 1978 and she was 13 years old and her name is Cleo Madonia and
00:21:34you can find it in the 1970s whose family was told she died in nineteen round 1978 so we're in the 70s so okay let me start having tea I'm going to see if I can find the book that's a record is in December 22nd 78
00:22:23the receptionist leaves that's in the foyer and goes down a staircase in search of the records from 1978
00:22:31everything we want to know is going to be in that book
00:22:37I don't know if she's going to share any information with us I think it's kind of unlikely but I was surprised that we were able to see the records at the cemetery office things seem different in the states for a journalist teams to open doors that they might not in Canada
00:22:54I can't sit and I feel so nervous
00:23:00but she's back within a few minutes and has a file of papers in her hand with that that's amazing
00:23:11but she doesn't have them over she keeps them close to her behind your desk
00:23:21Jill said she was 13 years old in 1978 the same age is Cleo Madonia it's a long shot but I show her the picture we have of Cleo the one we've been carrying around with us for months
00:23:38are you from here as well
00:23:41did you ever just wondering if you would recognize her photo
00:23:48I am from here but now I don't remember
00:23:52she looks at the photo again
00:23:59Miss Cleo
00:24:04yes we are
00:24:07yes she and I were friends
00:24:11yeah she let me let me think for a second
00:24:15we were in now
00:24:19fifth grade 6 right now Middle School are you recording me for the family the siblings are looking for her
00:24:35to turn it off
00:24:38I stopped recording
00:24:43I can't believe it we SoundCloud the girl from someone who doesn't want to be recorded I'm crushed
00:25:01the woman doesn't ask us to leave though she keep stalking her name is Jill slam she's not the jail we came to see but I'm so glad that she is the one that we found what are the odds I keep saying oh my gosh oh my gosh. Just thinking that were talking about her friend Cleo and she gets emotional
00:25:24even though I'm disappointed I can understand her hesitation about being recorded
00:25:31Jill start telling us about the day it was a few days before Christmas girlfriend to come over to her house to help trim the tree the party is started the Cleo didn't show up as Joe is telling the story I feel panicked this is the moment we found Cleo and her hearing details about her and her for taking notes neither is Marty everything is happening so quickly
00:26:16how do I make a split-second decision
00:26:20and hit the record button again to the party that show up to the party that show up to the party so my mom called my mom called her house and they told me what happened
00:26:33in my mind I think Joe is shot right now and he said five siblings from Saskatchewan and they've been searching for her their entire lives and even if she doesn't even if she still says no it's important to record what she says for our notes for accuracy so I keep recording
00:27:08oh my God if I could do that I'm just not ready to do this right now
00:27:16change her mind months later to let us use what I recorded in the funeral home reaction after we realized that the girl that we've been searching for his her friend Cleo I can't believe that we found here but that's definitely her she's really really tall she was taller than all of us but that's her she was really small here I was in
00:27:52August 1978 so it's 13,000 little school to Middle yearbook picture of her at home
00:28:11I can't believe that you know her! And I was just talking about her we were friends with clay out
00:28:26how long was she in New Jersey do it to know honestly I don't have
00:28:33Might Recall of her only
00:28:37she was just in my class that's all I
00:28:39I wished it was just tragic
00:28:42I think I know how she died
00:28:45but I'm not positive
00:28:48even though Jill says she's not sure I think she actually knows how Cleo died but she is adamant she can't be the one to tell us what happened to Cleo really sorry I was going around it doesn't official colors down I've been sleeping with the I can't I really I just am not
00:29:19it was tragic
00:29:25is it something you think please may have info on
00:29:30I'm sure the Play Store call
00:29:35the whole time we're here jealous texting with her friend Gina who was also Cleo's friend I know I do
00:29:51is there any colleges like that did her hair
00:30:01really straight bangs
00:30:05did she talk about being adopted
00:30:09yeah I remember she's reeling and she still at work
00:30:27Family Funeral Home in meet up with her later but she has an appointment right after work and is heading out of town first thing tomorrow what are the odds what are the odds right and I'm looking at the paper and I are looking at this picture and I
00:30:51clean up
00:30:53I'm so sorry it's supposed to be really shopping for the day
00:31:03we were friends
00:31:07the agree to touch base with gel and hopefully Gina later in the day I sent she's feeling so overwhelmed and we want to give her some space but we're really hoping she'll agree to meet with us this evening and we can call you back in a couple hours to do to go away thank you very much
00:31:30back in the car and I are also a bit in shock
00:31:36we call Heather are senior producer on the phone so we have found Cleo we found we found Cleo and the funeral or the the man at the cemetery unit old is her full name is Cleopatra and her friends knew that was her full name as well and she I mean she recognized her photo
00:31:58I just I keep thinking about Johnny he's only like an hour away from here and it just whatever whatever happened to Cleo even just a detail that she was she was invited to a tree trimming party where everyone brings their own ornament with other girls in her grade class it just and it was you just remind it was so close to Christmas and
00:32:27yes just to be adjusted the longitude is a lot here
00:32:33yeah and you one of these things would be a lot of their own and then tore it all to be together in in the life of a little girl it's basically a young girl
00:32:47we know that we need to tell Cleo siblings now that we found her Johnny is just a few hours away in Lancaster Pennsylvania but today is also our only chance to talk more with Jill and her friend Gina and to hear more about what life was like for Cleo in New Jersey before we talked to Cleo siblings we want to find out more about what happened to her how did she die was she murdered like her family has always believed why won't you tell us what happened to her
00:33:22and head to the local police station story about a girl who died in New Jersey in 1978
00:33:39and I'm wondering if anyone from your Police Department work
00:33:45here in 1978
00:33:54but right now.
00:33:55okay so there's no one here and they might be gone
00:34:01sure yeah
00:34:07public information officer and he might either be able to help you or to the rescue and he's right now what's going on
00:34:18I believe standoff continues to disrupt the South Jersey neighborhood this afternoon that's where man has barricaded himself in the police may not want to tell us but it's all over the local news officers will be tied up today
00:34:46I just got a text from jail at the funeral home and she says I'm going to try to find I have decided they will meet us tonight that's good I feel like you're just overwhelmed in the moment but just to talk they're not ready for an interview
00:35:03we made it a local Diner and as promised we leave her microphone behind
00:35:08Jill and Gina are clear about their intentions there talking to us for Cleo siblings they want to help them learn more about their sister help him get to know the girl Jill and Gina considered a friend they're shocked about us showing up out of the blue and we're worried about talking to journalists but the more we talk the more comfortable they become they tell us again about the moment they found out that Cleo died
00:35:34we talked to them for over an hour it's the most I've heard about what Cleo was like I don't want to forget a thing so as soon as we're back in the car I go over everything they told us okay where to begin we just left the Marlton Diner remembers her mom sitting down all the girls on a sectional in the living room and her mom sitting on a coffee table and telling all the girls that Cleo died and then all of their mothers came
00:36:06add pick them up and they're all upset
00:36:12they also said they remember the funeral was on the 26th but they weren't allowed to go over the private funeral that I've never heard before they said that she was happy and that she laughed and that she
00:36:31she just always had a big smile on her face and she was such a contrast to Johnny's last memory of hearing about the young girl who was taken away from her mother and he was so upset about being sent away for adoption
00:36:52I hope to hearing about this Cleo the happy clear gives her family some comfort they said she didn't talk about what happened before she was adopted name for Cleopatra
00:37:13what are the different they were the first one was Cleo's grade 5 class picture taking the year she arrives in New Jersey Cleo stands out because she's tall and she's wearing a bright yellow top things for dark brown hair is cut perfectly straight and it looks so shiny I love this photo because Cleo is smiling and she looks really happy the second is a black and white photo of a grade 8 yearbook longer their face is Fuller a shell necklace
00:37:58who doesn't look like a little girl anymore she has a small smile on her face but it doesn't look genuine
00:38:05underneath the picture it says respectfully remember Cleo Madonia it was taken just a few months before she died
00:38:14I wonder what she was going through what happened in those three years in New Jersey to Cleo try to run away from here why was she trying to hitchhike back to Saskatchewan
00:38:26they didn't they didn't know anything about 260 scoop or about residential schools
00:38:32Phoenix just kept saying so they just come into your house and take your kids they said that they wanted to meet with they wanted to meet with Cleo siblings but they both remembered finding out and how they found out about her dad didn't want to talk about it didn't want to tell us how she died didn't want to get into that
00:39:02but before we go any further we need to talk to Cleo siblings to Johnny Christine March and April
00:39:13on the next missing and murdered finding Cleo we visit the house we're clear lived and meet her adoptive mother the reason we're calling is that they found his grave
00:39:31what's in New Jersey something happened for a perfectly healthy 13 year old. To die
00:39:41hi I'm looking for meme Adonia are my name is Connie Wofford
00:39:48missing and murdered finding Clay Walker Mica Anderson is our audio producer and producer is Heather Evans to subscribe to a podcast search up missing and murdered finding Cleo on iTunes or your favorite podcast app you can also listen to the podcast on our website at cbc.ca / finding Cleo from the time she lived in New Jersey
00:40:34for more CBC original podcasts go to cbc.ca / original podcasts

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