Cary, N.C. — The parents of a slain Cary woman accompanied her two young daughters to a memorial service at the Koka Booth Amphitheatre in Regency Park on Saturday afternoon.
Around 200 people gathered to mourn Nancy Cooper, 34, whom a friend reported missing on Saturday, July 12. Her body was found two days later in an undeveloped subdivision less than three miles from her home.
Bella, 4, wore a pink baseball cap, and Katie, 2, carried a bouquet of roses. Pictures of the girls and their mother were displayed on stage, with a large, white floral display between them.
"I know she will live on in my heart, and I'm sure all of yours and especially those sweet little girls, Bella and Katie," said Hannah Prichard, a friend of Cooper.
A singer performed one of Cooper's favorite songs for her girls – "You Are My Sunshine."
"We know that she loves her family," Clea Morwich, a friend of Cooper, said. "And she loves Bella and Katie very much, and she's watching us right now."
A woman sung the 23rd Psalm, accompanied by a harpist, flautist and guitarist. A minister spoke to the mourners, and friends and family spoke about Cooper's influence on their lives.
At the request of the family, guests wore white to the service, and white ribbons were hung around trees in the Lochmere area, where Cooper lived.
The family arrived shortly after 3 p.m., and the memorial service ended around 3:45 p.m., with attendees encouraged to greet one another. Some attendees said they did not know Cooper but had been moved by her death.
"I just couldn't get Nancy and her family out of my head," Nancy Ranta, of Apex, said. "I just wanted to come and show my respect. I just feel so sad for them and their loss. It's so unfair."
Brad Cooper, the victim's husband, did not attend the memorial service. On Friday, his attorney, Seth Blum said that Brad Cooper prefers to grieve in private, not in the media.
Early Saturday, Cary police set up two information stands in front Cooper's subdivision. Officers handed out fliers seeking anyone with information about the case. Officers said it is a “standard investigative tool” to set up such stands.
Brad Cooper told police his wife went jogging around 7 a.m. and never returned, and a friend reported Cooper missing later that day when she failed to show up for a planned visit that afternoon.
"It just makes me sick that someone could be robbed of their lives like that," said Jane Dove Long, of Apex, a mourner at Cooper's memorial.
Cary police have not named any suspects or persons of interest in Cooper's death, but said they do not believe it was random. Blum says that his client is innocent and has cooperated fully with police.
A judge has granted Cooper's parents temporary custody of her children. In a court filing, they parents claimed emotional abuse an extramarital affair on Brad Cooper's part. He has told police and the media that he and wife were having marital difficulties.
Family and friends have established the Nancy Cooper Memorial Fund. Donations are accepted at any RBC Bank branch location or by mail. A box to drop donations will also be available at Saturday’s memorial service. Contributions are requested in lieu of flowers.
A second memorial service for Nancy Cooper is planned for Wednesday in Canada. The event will take place at 1 p.m. at Grace Lutheran Church, 9907 1114th St. in Edmonton.