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Slain mom's family seeks custody of young daughters

Posted July 17, 2008
Updated July 18, 2008

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— The family of a slain Cary mother has been granted temporary custody of her two young daughters after claiming their father is emotionally unstable and poses a threat to the children.

In a petition for custody filed Wednesday, Nancy Cooper's parents and twin sister claim Brad Cooper engaged "in a pattern of emotional abuse" of his wife and children in the months prior to her death and that he threatened to commit suicide last winter.

Wake County District Court granted an emergency custody order for Isabella Cooper, 4½, and her sister Gabriella, known as Katie, who will turn 2 next week.

"Because of the intense scrutiny he is currently facing in the ongoing criminal investigation, there is a substantial risk of bodily injury to the children while in the defendant's custody," the claim states.

The court scheduled a hearing for July 25.

"The decision (to seek custody) was not made with malice or any intent other than to support the children," Nancy Cooper's mother, Donna Rentz, said.

Brad Cooper's attorneys did not return calls Thursday seeking comment.

The document also alludes to marital problems, claiming Brad Cooper was having a sexual relationship with another woman and that Nancy Cooper retained counsel in March to "resolve all pending issues, including child custody, related to her impending separation form the defendant."

Nancy Cooper's family also claims Brad Cooper told his wife that she and their daughters could move back to Canada, but that he took their passports to prevent them from going.

He also refused to provide her and the children with adequate financial support, the petition alleges, and at one point Nancy Cooper was in "such desperate financial situation" that she had to borrow money to purchase groceries and other necessities.

Nancy Cooper, 34, was reported missing Saturday afternoon when she failed to meet up with a friend as planned. Her husband told police she had gone out for a jog in the morning and never returned.

Monday night, a man walking his dog found her body, wearing little clothing, in an undeveloped subdivision less than three miles from her home.

The family's filing says Brad Cooper never reported his wife missing and never contacted them to inform them of her disappearance. They say they do not believe, based on the information they have received, that Nancy Cooper ever went jogging.

Authorities have not said how Nancy Cooper died, and Cary police Chief Pat Bazemore said at a news conference Thursday that investigators still have no suspects or persons of interest in her death.

All parties were cooperating with authorities, she said. But at the request of the Wake County District Attorney's Office, she declined to take questions about the murder investigation.

Bazemore also would not talk about the custody case, saying it is a private, civil-court matter. She did say, however, that any information that comes from it "will be considered by our investigators as we move forward in this case."

Nancy Cooper's family did talk about her, their grief and their hope that her killer would come forward.

"I think it is an act of extreme cowardice to take a life, to rob a family, to rob children of a mother," Cooper's father, Garry Rentz, said. "And I guess what I would say is, if you have a shred of decency, come forward."

In the Lochmere community where Nancy Cooper lived neighbors have placed white ribbons on their mailboxes to honor her memory. Friends have planned a private memorial service on Friday.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • carolinakhaki Jul 18, 2008

    "It rolls well off a Murlow coated tongue."

    Were you trying to say "merlot"? Or is there some new tongue fashion of which I'm not aware?

  • oldschooltarheel Jul 18, 2008

    oh pleeeze - considering Cary's size & flaunted socioeconomic/education level (not anywhere close to Johnston, Haywood, Harnett or Durham counties right "ladies"?) it is interesting the amount of violence against women that occurs there. Nancy Cooper, Vanlata Patel, Karen Boychuk, Heather Domenie & Karla Chavez all died there in the past several years. Seems rather high for such an enlightened bucolic environs where the khaki wearing gals are astute discerners of the "crass" - next time try the word "gauche". It rolls well off a Murlow coated tongue.

  • newtodurham Jul 18, 2008

    I wonder how ling the newscasts would be if every murder got this type of attention. There is a missing woman that went missing the same time as this lady and no one cares. There are no national cover stories, soft photos of victim, press conferences for family, et...

    People stop falling into the trap of valuing one life over another, show the media that every innocent life lost is a tragedy, and everyone is innocent until proven guilty.

  • Eduardo1 Jul 18, 2008

    obaMcCain.....I agree with you The poor grieving father is being tried in the court of public opinion. Last night on Greta, she and Mark (I screwed up on OJ) Furman, had him guilty because RUMOR has it that he went out early in the morning leaving his children alone while he purchased Clorox, no proof just RUMOR. Let us wait until the right Frankenstein is: accused, tried and convicted.

  • mogwai Jul 18, 2008

    "mogwai, what makes you think that the children were Canadian citizens by birth? They are 2 and 4 years old and the Coopers have lived in Cary for the last 8 years."

    Canadian law?

    "Any person born outside Canada after 15 February 1977, who has a Canadian parent at the time of birth, is automatically a Canadian citizen by descent. Any such person whose Canadian parent or parents were also not born in Canada and obtained their citizenship at birth by descent (i.e. second generation overseas) must apply to retain his/her Canadian citizenship by their 28th birthday, or their Canadian citizenship will be lost."

    Both parents are Canadian citizens by birth, ergo both of these children are permanent Canadian citizens by descent. Since both of the parents were born in Canada, the children do not have to do anything further to remain Canadian citizens.

  • carolinagirl75 Jul 17, 2008

    o.s.tar heel,
    using the tragic death of a the mother of two innocent children is to bash Cary is crass and pathetic. show some respect.

  • something2say Jul 17, 2008

    So it seems no more news in coming tonight! I hope that they can wrap this up soon!! I continue to hold judgement until more facts are presented! I know CPD is doing there best to get the facts, and get enough evidence to ensure they find and convict the person who did this! I admit to being impatient!

  • carolinakhaki Jul 17, 2008

    oldschooltarheel, get a life and ditch the Cary bashing. A murder investigation is messy ANYWHERE, whether it's Cary, Raleigh, Durham, or anywhere else.

  • hftmissing Jul 17, 2008

    From all of us at http://helpfindthemissing.org Nancy and her family are in out thoughts andy prayers.

  • Wheelman Jul 17, 2008

    Fuzzzzzzzzzz-There is a difference with a civil opinion that based upon what you know or have read, you think he is guilty versus spewing the venom that some post have made. And yes you do have to have probable cause to get a search warrant, but in a case that you are not sure where the crime took place you have no problem getting warrants for any place that is a reasonably likely possibility. With the statistics and the accompanying predjudices toward the male spouse in these situations getting a warrant is of little difficulty. Steve Crisp has pointed out, he is presumed to be the source of their marriage problems because of what has been said by one side of the marriage. I knew a couple who were the picture of happiness until 3 months after their first child was born. At that time she told him that she had what he wanted and he could leave. Yes we are all entitled to our opinions. I merely want people to remember that words have power to hurt, and we should be careful with them.