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Nancy Cooper's family keeps children until October

Posted July 25, 2008
Updated July 27, 2008

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— Brad Cooper and the family of his slain wife reached a settlement Friday, allowing his two young daughters to remain temporarily in the custody of their grandparents and aunt.

The two sides met for more than an hour in a judge's chamber before reaching the agreement, which permits Nancy Cooper's family to return to Canada with Bella, 4, and Katie, 2. A hearing had been scheduled to take place, but it was continued until Oct. 13.

Last week, a judge awarded emergency custody to Nancy Cooper's parents, Garry and Donna Rentz, and her twin sister, Krista Lister, after they filed a petition claiming that Brad Cooper is an unfit father and, among other allegations, that he had been emotionally abusive to his wife and daughters in the months before Nancy Cooper was killed.

"We are very pleased with the decision the court has made," Garry Rentz said Friday. "We respect the judgment of the court and the quality of the work that has been done. So, we are just very satisfied with where we are."

Brad Cooper's attorneys, Howard Kurtz and Seth Blum, said in a statement late Friday afternoon that their client is pleased to know that the agreement means his daughters will be "shielded from the spotlight of media scrutiny."

"While he will miss the daily joys of fatherhood, he fully intends to remain a vital force in his children's lives," the statement said. "Though it is painful to contemplate any additional day without his girls, Mr. Cooper accepts this as a heart-rending but necessary step toward achieving justice."

Under the terms of the settlement, the children will be allowed contact with their father a minimum of four times a week via telephone or Web cam for a minimum of 15 minutes.

Both sides also agreed to two supervised weekend visits before October in which Brad Cooper will be allowed to see his children for a maximum of four hours each day.

Other conditions of the settlement include:

  • Counseling for the children to begin as soon as reasonably possible.
  • Keeping the children out of a vehicle driven by Donna Rentz. (Brad Cooper stated in a July 23 affidavit that she was not a safe or reliable driver.)
  • Keeping the children away from dogs. (Brad Cooper stated in the affidavit that one of his daughters is allergic to dogs.)

Neither side is allowed to talk about the circumstances surrounding Nancy Cooper's death or the pending custody case.

"We think it's fair," Alice Stubbs, attorney for Nancy Cooper's family, said. "We just don't want to jeopardize the criminal investigation."

Authorities have released little information about Nancy Cooper's slaying, but say it was not random. Police said last week they had not named a suspect or a person of interest in her death.

Nancy Cooper's friend reported her missing July 12 after she failed to show up for a planned meeting. Brad Cooper told authorities his wife went jogging and never returned.

He stated in an affidavit earlier this week he had been out looking for her and was going to report her missing when he realized her friend had done so.

And although police have not named Brad Cooper a suspect, the homicide case has poured over into the custody dispute in hundreds of pages of court filings from both sides.

Brad Cooper stated in an affidavit earlier this week that his wife's family suggested that he was involved in the homicide; a friend of Nancy Cooper stated in an affidavit that she thought he killed her.

On Wednesday, Brad Cooper filed a motion seeking the results of his wife's autopsy, so he could "challenge the plaintiff's unfounded insinuation" that he killed his wife.

In more than a dozen affidavits, Nancy Cooper's friends charged that Brad Cooper was an absent father who was mentally unstable, was controlling, withheld money from his wife and had up to four extramarital affairs.

Brad Cooper responded in affidavits, saying he and his wife had marital problems but that she exaggerated, that he was a good father and an attentive husband and that the family was in debt because of her overspending.

In a last-minute filing before the hearing that had been supposed to take place Friday, Brad Cooper's attorneys filed a motion asking the court to dismiss the case and to vacate the temporary custody order that put the children in the care of their mother's family.

"Nothing on the face of the order nor the complaint itself would support any finding of Defendant having acted inconsistently with his parental rights," the motion stated. "Thus, the order must be dissolved and the case dismissed."

Brad Cooper's attorneys said in Friday's statement that it would have been impossible to address the "overwhelming volume" of information exchanged between the sides in the custody matter and that more time is needed to do so.

"In addition," they said, "we have virtually no information about the information about the most serious allegation: the implication that Mr. Cooper was somehow involved in his wife's death."

"We do not know what happened to Nancy," they added. "We know only that Mr. Cooper is neither a suspect nor even a person of interest."

261 Comments

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  • jetset Jul 25, 2008

    I am pretty sure the legal system is not just (fair) in this country. It all depends on who you get for your legal team. The slicker the better. Same way with healthcare. Poor people don't have the access to the best doctors whereas the rich can get the best. Sometimes life just isn't fair.

  • dont-be-a-hater Jul 25, 2008

    Has anyone read anything from this Carrie friend herself? Maybe I missed her name on one of the affidavits? Just curious what she has to say since she was the one thought to have been with Nancy jogging...I am assuming by what I read from Jessica she does exist.

  • bs101fly Jul 25, 2008

    this confirms his guilt! what innocent right thinking man in THIS WORLD would not want to be with his children at a time like this!

  • Citizen7265 Jul 25, 2008

    ReaderNorth: "This case is consistent with a disturbing trend line in our country of diminished respect for individual rights and a shift toward a police state: kids are taken away with no hearing even when the party could have been called in for a hearing; police department has an officer hanging out with this guy 24/7 without having even charged him with anything. I do not know if he committed the murder or not and I recognize that spouses are always first on the list to be considered. But I think his rights are being violated in some pretty significant ways. Disturbing."

    I agree 100%. It frightens me how vehemently people want to view this case on both sides, but especially those wanting to
    convict BC without due process.

  • Citizen7265 Jul 25, 2008

    +++I would bet the MARJORITY who want to see the children with him are MEN or women who do not have children

    I believe in innocent until proven guilty. This guy has not even been named a suspect. I have children and a husband. Cannot imagine them being put through this ordeal if something happened to me. I wouldn't presume to know who makes up the majority on any side of the issue. There is nothing to accurately reflect that information.

  • Citizens Arrayest Jul 25, 2008

    "Why would BC agree to such a deal? I would think he would feel the best thing for his daughter's now would be to be with their dad"

    Well they did believe this until Wade came in started dropping bombs. I bet within 5 minutes they were happy Mr Smith was allowing Brad brief internet chats with the kids. I imagine the Judge was basically a non factor, pretty much a bystander taking notes.

  • Citizens Arrayest Jul 25, 2008

    Well since we have nothing to do at this point BUT speculate.

    what evidence do you think the Police have that makes them so sure it was not a random homocide?

    what would be signs of a non random killing?

  • chauncey7381 Jul 25, 2008

    +++I would bet the MARJORITY who want to see the children with him are MEN or women who do not have children

    Dear Marjority,

    I do have children. I know what it's like to live on one income around the same age as they. I am PRO-Mr. Cooper's Innocence until the Keystone CPD Cops present evidence of what, who, whom are responsible for Mrs. Cooper's unfortunate demise.

    I feel the children should be in his care., however, I also feel that shielding them from the relentless media coverage here in this area is a priority. Both sides of this tragedy have dealt each other some harsh blows. It is encouraging that both sides have reached an amiable compromise at this time for children's benefit. In a few weeks, the autopsy will unsealed and KABOOM more coverage, speculation, accusations etc will follow. Mr. Cooper has wrongly been tried by the media, internet, speculation etc., thus far.

    Mrs. Cooper's family appears to be a bit more subdued now. They should calm down.

  • APPMAN Jul 25, 2008

    Why would BC agree to such a deal? I would think he would feel the best thing for his daughter's now would be to be with their dad, especially considering they have lost their mom. I can't help but think something smells for him to agree to this. I am really trying to not jump to conclusions and to give due process a chance to work, but there seems to be a lot going on that is fishy.

  • readernorth Jul 25, 2008

    Thanks for the info. You are right. Wade Smith did sign the intial custody petition. Interesting. He is a top shelf lawyer for certain--the best you can hire around here. He WOULD have been at Tharrington Smith when the good judge was a lawyer there. With all his talk of due process it makes the ex parte petition and order even more stunning given that Brad Cooper was in town and could have been called to a hearing. This case is consistent with a disturbing trend line in our country of diminished respect for individual rights and a shift toward a police state: kids are taken away with no hearing even when the party could have been called in for a hearing; police department has an officer hanging out with this guy 24/7 without having even charged him with anything. I do not know if he committed the murder or not and I recognize that spouses are always first on the list to be considered. But I think his rights are being violated in some pretty significant ways. Disturbing.

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