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Slain mom's husband could have to testify in custody case

Posted July 21, 2008
Updated July 22, 2008

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— A slain Cary woman's husband would likely have to testify at a custody hearing if he wants to remain the legal guardian of his two children – currently in temporary care of their maternal grandparents, a family-law attorney says.

The parents and twin sister of Nancy Cooper, 34, were awarded emergency custody last Wednesday of her daughters, Bella 4, and Katie, who turns 2 this week.

In a petition for custody, they allege the children's father, Brad Cooper, is mentally unstable and poses a threat to the children. They claim he emotionally abused his wife and children, had threatened to kill himself last winter, withheld funds for their basic needs and had a sexual relationship with another woman.

Cooper did not consent to the emergency order, his attorney, Seth Blum said.

"He's a mess," Blum said of his client Monday. "His wife has been killed. His children are not in his custody."

Authorities have not named Cooper a suspect and have said he has been cooperative with the investigation. Blum said Friday his client has answered all questions and has told them he did not kill his wife.

But if Cooper were to testify, that could mean he could be cross-examined under oath about the murder case, Mark Sullivan, a Raleigh attorney who practices family law and is not involved in the case, said.

"Even then, if he goes into court, he may take the Fifth Amendment and insist on the privilege against self-incrimination if he's called to stand."

Another option, Sullivan said, would be for Cooper to wait for the criminal case to be resolved and then return to the custody issue.

Blum said Monday that Cooper will be at the hearing, scheduled for 9 a.m. Friday, but he did not know if his client would testify.

Nancy Cooper, 34, was reported missing July 12 when she failed to meet up with a friend as planned. Brad Cooper told police she had gone out for a jog that morning and never returned.

Two days later, a man walking his dog found her body, wearing little clothing, in an undeveloped subdivision outside Cary's town limit – less than three miles from the Coopers' home.

Cary police have not named any suspects or persons of interest in the homicide, although they have said they do not believe the crime was random.(Cary police are handling the case, because under state law, law enforcement jurisdiction belongs to the municipality where investigators believe a crime occurred.)

Friends, family and the community held a public memorial service in Cary Saturday for Nancy Cooper. Another memorial service is scheduled for Wednesday in Edmonton, Alberta, where Nancy Cooper's parents live.

Blum said his client, who did not attend Saturday's service, would not attend Wednesday's either because "he feels his presence would be a distraction."

Instead, Cooper will have a private ceremony with friends, Blum said.

30 Comments

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  • findmissingppl Jul 22, 2008

    MAybe mogwai will help us understand this if he/she is still on this blog.

  • findmissingppl Jul 22, 2008

    wa4mjf,

    I believe that some rules of evidence may be in play with the warrants. I would speculate the warrants may avoid explaining to whom ever why the take certain items. Just an assumption on my part though. One other thing here though, the CPD may need this advantage under the circumstances. Brad Cooper is not the only party under scrutiny here. Investigations and the results of them probably are a good idea for all involved.

    The only thing I have concern about is that a murderer is "not yet identified" in an "isolated" case. Go figure.

  • RonnieR Jul 22, 2008

    One thing that puzzles me is the oft repeated statements by CPD that he is cooperating, but yet search warrants. I always went with informed consent, when I could, rather than a search warrant as there is less to be challenged in court, should the cooperative person be charged.

  • North Wake Dad Jul 22, 2008

    "Because of statements made by Chief Bazemore and by his attorney, I believe this guy is in a deep state of sadness and perhaps confusion, and isn't able to function to the capacity to which some of you think is normal."

    That's exactly what I'm thinking, Rev. That would explain why he temporarily lost custody, why he's "hiding out" from the public. From the sound of it, he probably wasn't well put together before all this happened, and this nudged him closer to the edge. Whether he "did it" or not.

  • Mr William Jul 22, 2008

    One wonders if Brad will be at Lake Placid or at the hearing?

    http://www.adventuresofbrad.com/joomla/

  • Concerned Jul 22, 2008

    Folks, everyone on this site has an OPINION. That is all that it is, so you may want to stop trying to stop opinions that don't necessarily agree with yours. Afterall, it just one's opinion. We are all entitled to one. You may not like it, but then others may not like your's as well.

  • b4self Jul 22, 2008

    tcwife I agree I can't believe how people are slamming him, if he's guilty he deserves death but there is nothing from the cpd that suggest he did it, and if he did not do it he deserves our support and his children.If they wanted to help and do whats best for the kids why didn't they leave the kids with the daughter that lives in NC I believe her name was Jill,that way they could be close to their dad and not feel like they were losing Mom and Dad.

  • jaguar3 Jul 22, 2008

    Is it at all possible that Brad and Nancy had an argument that day and she ran out of the house to get away from the argument since she had no id on her when found and someone else may have been responsible for her demise. If they were frequently in disagreement over things, anything could have sparked her behavior the morning she left the house. Maybe the party that she attended without him the night prior. I have known of marriages where the two people did not get along and one could have cared less about where the other ran off to during an arguement. Perhaps that is why he did not report her missing, letting anger guide his decision. I pray for the familes of these two people involved, especially the children. I am still puzzled at the press that this homicide has rendered.

  • tcwife Jul 22, 2008

    I get the feeling that even if they were to arrest someone today and prove that he had nothing to do with his wife's murder his in-laws would fight to keep the children. Talk about unfair to the children. Not only have they lost their mother but now they have been taken away from their father. I think if the in-laws are granted custody of the children they should have to stay in the area at least until this is over so that their father could at least have some type of visitation with them but it sounds like they want to make sure they forget who their father is. I also bet if they are granted custody that even if he is cleared completely they are going to fight in court to keep them. I don't know anyone in this family but I am sure the in-laws think Brad will keep the children from them but I would hope that he would be a bigger man than that and let his late wife's family still be a part of the children's lives but who could blame him if he didn't the way they have acted.

  • findmissingppl Jul 22, 2008

    Sorry,

    Here is the site.

    http://www.newsobserver.com/front/story/1141867.html

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