Local News

Witness in Cooper case: Police tried to 'coerce him'

Posted October 2, 2008

— A man who was supposed to play tennis with Brad Cooper the day his wife disappeared says in a new court filing that police tried to "coerce" him into saying he helped establish an alibi for Cooper, now at the center of a custody battle for his two young daughters.

In an interview with police four weeks ago, Michael Hiller states in a Sept. 29 affidavit, investigators used "good-cop bad-cop" tactics to force him to admit he made calls on Nancy Cooper's cell phone on July 12, the day a friend reported her missing.

He also says police told him the Town of Cary was calling her homicide isolated "so people like you would be more comfortable."

Police have said the crime was not random violence.

"The police told me they had to investigate Brad because he was the husband," Hiller states in the document. "They also told me that if they were to arrest someone else without thoroughly investigating Brad, the lawyer for that arrested person would accuse them of doing poor police work."

Cary police had no comment on Hiller's affidavit, a town spokeswoman said.

In a phone interview with WRAL News Thursday morning, Hiller said he backs his statements, but also said he does believe Cary police are doing a good job with the case.

"We are just looking for justice for Nancy and the girls and for Brad, wherever the cards may fall," he said.

A man walking his dog found Nancy Cooper's body on July 14 in an undeveloped subdivision three miles from the Coopers' Lochmere home. An autopsy determined she had been strangled.

Her parents, Garry and Donna Rentz, filed for custody of the couple's children two days later, claiming Brad Cooper is mentally unstable and poses a threat to the children.

Cooper, who declined to comment Thursday, gave a deposition for more than seven hours to the Rentzes' attorneys. They were able to ask him anything that relates to his fitness as a parent, including whether he played a role in his wife's death.

Police have not named a suspect in the case. There has been widespread speculation that Brad Cooper was involved, but his attorneys have repeatedly denied that he killed his wife.

Cooper had to answer the deposition questions or be held in contempt of court. He did have an option, however, to invoke his Fifth Amendment right on any question that might have incriminated him.

"We think we're making progress toward a conclusion," Garry Rentz said. "We can't say anything more than that."

Brad Cooper's attorneys will depose the Rentzes and Nancy Cooper's twin sister, Krista Lister, next week. The temporary custody hearing is scheduled for the week of Oct. 13.

"It has been a long day," the Rentzes' attorney, Alice Stubbs, said Thursday evening. "We're thankful we got through it, and everybody worked hard. We'll be back to work tomorrow."


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  • sayitoutloud Oct 3, 2008

    Why dont they just say he's a suspect and get it over with. He is the only person in the case that we have heard about even being investigated.

  • LostinSpace Oct 3, 2008

    Does anyone know what time Nancy was supposed to go help paint at her friends house?

  • meh2 Oct 2, 2008

    The police have botched this case. Another murderer goes free. And I am not suggesting that I have any idea who, but then again, neither do the police.

  • KniftyKnitter Oct 2, 2008

    According to the autopsy...."Autopsy examination revealed decomposed remains whose condition is consistent with the time interval she was reportedly missing."

    If that is accurate, NC couldn't have been killed Friday night or early Sat. morning. I wonder if the Cary PD had this info when they interviewed Mr. Hiller.

  • thescarletpimpernel Oct 2, 2008

    Wheelman. Ditto. Time of death is crucial too.

    I read on an other forum that Jenna Nielsen was found wearing one clear cut earring and so was Nancy Cooper. Coincidence?

    It's clearly obvious CPD was trying to get a confession from anyone. I'm not convinced Nancy Cooper's murder was an isolated incident at all.

  • Wheelman Oct 2, 2008

    This is a critical piece of information because calls to him from her cell phone would mean that based on the timeline of events he could not have killed her and disposed of the body Friday night or earlier Sat. AM. The chances of him being able to kill her and dispose of the body later Saturday prior to the 911 call and not be seen by anyone are very very slim. That is why the Cary PD wanted someone/a friend to admit that he had gotten them to make the calls from her phone. They were pushing (coerce) him to admit to doing it because they were hoping that is what happened since it would blow his alibi. The police had a theory of how he could have done it. The timeline doesn't match the theory. The way he has dealt with child custody is no indication of guilt or innocense. It is more likely a result of stress and perhaps poor decisions. It's difficult to fight two battles at once. Faced with the same situation none of us really know what decisions we would have made.

  • thescarletpimpernel Oct 2, 2008

    Reverend---I tried to post to you about Nancy Cooper's shirt/clothing the other night and WRAL never posted it. I have been following this case since it became one...I found this on the city-data forum over a month ago...apparently someone found an item of clothing in the woods that may or may not have been associated with Nancy Cooper...below is the exact verbatim from the post.

    ++++A friend of mine that lives in the Lochmere area reported information to a detective the day Nancy went missing. While my friend was on her jog that day, she saw a woman by Nancy's description around 8am. She described an item of clothing this woman was wearing that was of interest to the detective. Whether this is a coincidence or not, an item of clothing as my friend described was found in the woods. It was not an item of clothing that was known to the public. I have no idea why the police would not release that information, but maybe it was a false lead. +++++

  • danofnc Oct 2, 2008

    "There are those that would rather crucify without justifiable evidence just to see someone else suffer rather than to wait patiently for the truth."

    Justifiable evidence? Innocent until proven guilty is for the courts. Do you think that LE took the carpet from the trunk of the BMW just for fun? Do you really think that he decided to clean for 4 hours when his wife didn't return home at the expected time out of the goodness of his heart?

    There are a lot of things known about this case that point at Mr. Cooper, and not much that clears him. So, until some evidence comes out that makes it look like he didn't do it, why should he get the kids?

    If he was innocent, why did he let the grandparents take them without a fight in the first place? He agreed to let the kids go without a hearing. If my wife were killed, and I had nothing to do with it, there's no way I'd let my kids go, especially if someone filed an affadavit related to the case accusing me of the murder. He let them go.

  • tootiefrootie Oct 2, 2008

    WOOHOO! Mr. Hiller has officially alienated himself from the "Cary Clique!"

  • Adelinthe Oct 2, 2008

    FE - "A reasonable person can certainly reach some probable conclusions and/or express an opinion in this forum without trampling on the rights of anyone."

    The keyword in your statement is "reasonable," which some folks just aren't.

    There are those that would rather crucify without justifiable evidence just to see someone else suffer rather than to wait patiently for the truth.

    Some folks just like to cause suffering to others.

    God bless.

    Rev. RB