Dispatches from a Reporter's Notebook

The power of one

Posted April 20, 2009

Soon after Nancy Cooper was found murdered near her Cary home her friends and family started noticing butterflies in their neighborhoods.

"We were frequented by this big beautiful yellow butterfly, it came to symbolize Nancy," Jessica Adam, Nancy Cooper's close friend said.

Not unlike other stories I have covered, family and friends of murder victims often look for signs in nature that their loved one is still with them. Linda Fisher sees her murdered daughter, Michelle Young, in ladybugs. Another mother I met years ago saw her daughter who was killed in a traffic accident in dragonflies. Somehow, these symbols give those left behind some hope that the cycle of life does in fact go on.

"We came together with the idea to take something positive from the tragedy," Adam said.

And hence, the "Butterfly Fund" was born, a fund through Wake County's support organization for domestic violence victims, Interact.

Nancy Cooper is remembered as a mother, a daughter, and a friend. But she probably never expected to be remembered as a champion for domestic violence victims. That's exactly what her friends are hoping will happen.

The fund will help women trapped by financial obstacles get out of an abusive relationship.

Adam Hartzell, the director of Interact, believes Nancy Cooper was abused. He says when the abuse is more subtle than a black eye or broken arm, for example, emotional abuse and control of finances, women like Nancy Cooper don't always seek help. He hopes Nancy's case will change this.

“Domestic violence takes many different forms,” Hartzell said. "What we want is for anyone who has heard about the Nancy Cooper case and experienced similar type of abuse to know we are here for them as well.”

The group will hold several fundraisers for the cause in the coming months. But maybe even more important to them is the awareness that can come from talking about domestic abuse in communities where it traditionally goes unnoticed until it is too late.

"If we can save even just one life we feel that we've accomplished something," Adam said.

About this Blog:

WRAL's Amanda Lamb offers a behind-the-scenes look at what TV news reporters do, the people they meet and how their jobs affect them.