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Judge grants temporary custody to Nancy Cooper's family

Posted October 22, 2008

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— The two young daughters of Nancy and Brad Cooper will remain in the temporary custody of their slain mother's family in Canada, a Wake County judge ruled Wednesday.

“This is a very good day for Nancy, her children, and our entire family," Nancy Cooper's father, Garry Rentz, said in a statement.

"We are extremely grateful to Judge (Debra) Sasser for her careful and thorough attention to our case. We could not have asked for a more fair or deliberate process and are confident that she acted in the best interest of not just our grandchildren but all children who may be in a similar circumstance."

Attempts to reach Brad Cooper were unsuccessful, but his attorney, Seth Blum, said his client was upset about the ruling and that he wants his children back.

"He's extremely disappointed. He misses his daughters. He would like to have them back in his arms," Blum said.

The details of the custody arrangement were not immediately clear Wednesday evening. Sasser's order, which is expected to outline them, should be filed within the next two weeks.

"We are thankful that Bella and Katie will remain in Canada with their mother's family," Alice Stubbs, an attorney for Nancy Cooper's family, said in a statement. "They are in a safe and nurturing environment. It is not appropriate for us to release further details until the court order is signed by Judge Sasser."

Wednesday's ruling comes more than three months after Nancy Cooper, 34, was found dead in an undeveloped subdivision about three miles from her Cary home. An autopsy determined she likely had been strangled.

Two days later, Rentz, his wife, Donna Rentz, and their daughter, Krista Lister, filed for temporary custody of the girls, saying Brad Cooper is an unfit father who is mentally unstable and was emotionally abusive to and financially controlling of his wife in the months prior to her death.

Police have made no arrests and have not named any suspects in the slaying, but Nancy Cooper's family testified during last Thursday's hearing that they believe Brad Cooper was involved.

Blum said it is unusual in North Carolina for a father to lose custody of biological children and that he believes the case hinges on the murder allegations.

"Brad has been put in a position where he's required to prove his innocence, which is a very difficult thing to do, given we don't have the police file, and we don't know the details of the investigation up until this point," Blum said.

Earlier this month, Brad Cooper's attorneys subpoenaed investigators to turn over all evidence in the case after an affidavit by the lead investigator George Daniels, who said statements their client made in a videotaped deposition were inconsistent with police interviews.

They argued they needed the information to explore why Daniels made that claim. But Sasser quashed the subpoena, saying it is inappropriate to turn over such materials until someone is charged.

Brad Cooper has said his wife went jogging at about 7 a.m. July 12 and never returned. A friend reported her missing when she failed to show for an appointment.

Police have declined to talk about the murder case but have said in recent weeks that the investigation "continues to be going very well."

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  • hwnscigirl1 Oct 24, 2008

    Why does the media keep "updating" us on this story? Is it because this woman was an attractive, white, middle-class Cary-ite? If it were about the exact same situation involving a black woman from Durham, or a hispanic woman from Garner, WRAL would WRAL have given the story the same coverage? I think not! Shame on WRAL!

  • keeptraveling Oct 23, 2008

    MJW... but "gossip" is defined as idle talk or rumor. We have many affidavits that are the words of a person who witnessed firsthand what they wrote about. You are choosing to discount that testimony?

  • noway2 Oct 23, 2008

    I keep hearing people talk of this trail of information that leads them to believe Brad Cooper killed his wife. I've been following this case from the first day and I've read all of the affidavits and the autopsy report and I haven't seen any information that leads me to think that way. Can one of you that keeps referencing this information (keeptraveling) please list some concrete examples of it here? Maybe I've missed something.

  • anti-Hans Oct 23, 2008

    Keep, in fact, yes I have been reading the depositions and affadavits. I also have relatives in law enforcement. I also know many innocent people who have had lies told against them by angry and bitter spouses to the point that everything was one sided.

    In the affadavits I read, I read a lot of bitterness from the friends of NC who only saw the one side of her. They did not see the other side. They only heard what NC wanted them to hear. BC should have his kids based on the law, not gossip. And gossip is all we have right now in the affadavits.

  • jmflu Oct 23, 2008

    All I can say is thank God Brad didn't get those girls! That man is going to jail and the sooner, the better!

  • anti-Hans Oct 23, 2008

    Thanks keep, I try to be reasonable. I should not resort to name calling. It is just very frustrating to see people not looking at the entire picture, so intent on defaming BC instead of looking at facts.

    If he did it, there will be plenty of time to crucify him, hopefully upside down.

  • keeptraveling Oct 23, 2008

    MJW... WHY would I WANT to see BC be guilty?? That does not make sense. I do not know the man, and it is horrible to think of those children losing both of their parents. But one cannot ignore the trail of information, and I do not know whether you have been reading the affidavits and watching the depositions or not, but LE has info that leads not just Topsail Girl and myself to believe he did this horrible thing, but many, many people who are following this on a daily basis.

    To start from scratch and say it could be this person or that person with nothing to go on is like starting your own detective agency with no training. My money's on the big boys.

  • keeptraveling Oct 23, 2008

    You sound reasonable, MJW, until you make comments like "gossipy women running their mouths" and call them the "Cary Clique." Anyone who puts a whole group of people into a category like that ends up sounding unreasonable.

  • anti-Hans Oct 23, 2008

    One other ironic point for you JMFLU, keeptraveling, and Topsail Girl - I think he probably did it. You have seen my posts from the beginning defending not BC, but defending his RIGHTS.

    I am trying to look at this case from BOTH sides, trying to keep an open mind as to the events. Some of you are so closed minded, so convinced of his guilt that you are not looking objectively at the facts.

    THE FACT IS THERE WAS ANOTHER ATTACK ON A JOGGER NEARBY recently who fortunately got away. It is possible BC, as much as you want him to be guilty, did not do it. It is highly possible NC was an unlucky victim in the wrong place at the wrong time. As I said, I think he probably did it, but keep an open mind and look at real facts, not just what you want to see.

  • anti-Hans Oct 23, 2008

    keeptraveling - I am not blaming the victim. They were both at fault here, as ALL marriages are. The Cary clique makes NC out to be a perfect angel and BC as the devil himself. They both had faults. I am simply saying she was not the perfect parent, nor am I the perfect parent.

    I do remember reading however in the affadvits that she had to have a certain BMW. The BMW dealer had one for her, but she had to have the other one and nothing else.

    I truly am sorry she was murdered, and most of all I feel sorry for her girls. But our constitutional laws are at stake here, and BC's have clearly been violated. NC never said he was a bad parent. There are no records to indicate he was a bad parent. Just a bunch of gossipy women who watch too much TV running their mouths.

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