Nancy Cooper

Nancy Cooper case timeline

Posted March 7, 2011
Updated March 17, 2014

Nancy CooperA look at key events surrounding the disappearance and death of Nancy Cooper and the arrest and trial of her husband, Brad Cooper, for her murder.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Brad and Nancy Cooper attend the barbecue of neighbors Craig and Diana Duncan in the Lochmere area of Cary, according to his testimony in an Oct. 2, 2008, deposition. Brad Cooper says he leaves with his daughters at 8 p.m., puts them to bed and falls asleep with them in their room.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

  • 12:25 a.m. – Brad Cooper says in his deposition that he is sleeping with his daughters when he hears his wife come home.
  • 6:22 a.m. to 6:25 a.m. – Brad Cooper is recorded on surveillance video inside the Harris Teeter at Crescent Commons Shopping Center, 2080 Kildaire Farm Road in Cary, buying milk. (Read more about the surveillance video.)
  • 6:30 a.m. – Brad Cooper says in his deposition that he returns home and leaves shortly thereafter to go buy laundry detergent.
  • Around 6:40 a.m. – Nancy Cooper calls Brad Cooper on his cell phone from home, he says in his deposition, and she asks him to buy juice.
  • 6:41 a.m. to 6:44 a.m. – Surveillance video from the same Harris Teeter records Brad Cooper purchasing Tide and Green Machine Naked Juice.
  • 7 a.m. – Nancy Cooper goes jogging, according to a July 23, 2008, affidavit of Brad Cooper.
  • 1:50 p.m. – Jessica Adam calls 911, expressing concern that she hasn’t heard from Nancy Cooper and that she is worried something might have happened to her. (Read more about the 911 call.)

July 13, 2008

Hundreds of volunteers and law enforcement authorities search for Nancy Cooper by land, air and water and distribute thousands of fliers around Cary.

July 14, 2008

A man walking his dog at approximately 7:35 p.m. near Holly Springs Road and Fielding Drive – less than three miles from Nancy Cooper's home – finds her body in a drainage ditch. (Listen to the 911 call.)

Cary Police Chief Pat Bazemore says investigators do not have a suspect or person of interest in the case but that they do not believe it is a random crime.

July 16, 2008

Nancy Cooper's parents, Garry and Donna Rentz, and twin sister, Krista Lister, file a petition for emergency custody of the Coopers’ two children, claiming that Brad Cooper is emotionally unstable, emotionally abusive and poses a threat to the children. A Wake County family court judge awards them emergency custody.

Police obtain a search warrant for the Coopers' home at 104 Wallsburg Court, vehicles and a DNA sample from Brad Cooper.

July 18, 2008

Brad Cooper’s attorney defends his client against “wild speculation” and “bizarre and unsupported theories” about Nancy Cooper’s death. Brad Cooper “has been very, very clear with police,” Seth Blum says. “He did not kill his wife." (Watch the news conference.)

Oct. 2, 2008

As part of the custody challenge, Brad Cooper is deposed for approximately seven hours by Nancy Cooper’s family’s attorneys. (Watch the deposition.)

Oct. 22, 2008

A Wake County judge grants temporary custody to Nancy Cooper’s parents and sister.

Oct. 27, 2008

Brad Cooper is arrested and charged with first-degree murder. (Watch Cooper appear before the magistrate.

Dec. 5, 2008

Wake County prosecutors announce they won’t seek the death penalty against Brad Cooper.

May 15, 2009

Garry and Donna Rentz reach a permanent custody agreement with Brad Cooper placing Bella and Katie in the primary care of Krista Lister.

Feb. 28, 2011

Jury selection begins in Brad Cooper’s first-degree murder trial.

March 9, 2011

Brad Cooper's trial begins with Wake County Assistant District Attorney Amy Fitzhugh presenting the opening statement for the state. (Watch the opening statement.)

March 10, 2011

Attorney Howard Kurtz delivers the defense's opening statement.(Watch the defense's opening statement.

May 5, 2011

After more than 10 hours of deliberation over three days, a jury of 10 women and two men find Brad Cooper guilty of first-degree murder. He is sentenced to life in prison.

Nearly 100 witnesses testified over a course of 36 days as prosecutors sought to prove that an angry Brad Cooper, tired and fed up with Nancy Cooper, planned her murder and carried it out in the early morning hours of July 12, 2008.

Defense attorneys argued detectives never looked beyond their client as a suspect, because they were concerned that a random murder would tarnish Cary's reputation as a safe community. They characterized police work as being "dishonest" and "inept."

April 9, 2013

The North Carolina Court of Appeals hears Brad Cooper's request to overturn his conviction. Appellate defender Ann Peterson argues that he did not get a fair trial because Superior Court Judge Paul Gessner disallowed testimony from key witnesses. "Brad Cooper had no chance," Peterson tells the three-judge panel.

Sept. 3, 2013

The North Carolina Court of Appeals orders a new murder trial in the case after finding the trial judge erred by not allowing key testimony to be presented in the case.