Local News

Cooper fund to help women leaving abusive relationships

Posted April 20, 2009
Updated May 6, 2011

— Friends of a slain Cary mother have created "Nancy's Butterfly Fund," which will provide financial assistance to women and their children leaving abusive relationships.

The fund is named in honor of Nancy Cooper, whose husband, Brad Cooper, is charged with first-degree murder in her July 12, 2008, death.

A man walking his dog found Nancy Cooper's body on the bank of a storm water pond in an undeveloped subdivision about three miles from the couple's Cary home. The 34-year-old mother of two was likely strangled, according to a medical examiner's report.

"Nancy’s Butterfly Fund" will be managed by Interact, a local nonprofit agency that provides safety, support and awareness to victims and survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault.

Family members and friends have claimed that Brad Cooper was emotionally abusive to his wife and cut her off from money, which made it difficult for her and her children to leave.

Organizers said their goal is to minimize the financial obstacles that may prevent women from leaving violent unsafe homes.

Nancy Cooper Butterfly Fund will help domestic violence victims

"Domestic violence is not always a broken arm or a black eye," Interact's executive director, Adam Hartzell, said. "She felt trapped, and so what we're trying to do with the Butterfly Fund is to make sure no one else feels like they're trapped in a situation."

The fund will provide financial assistance for individuals and families participating in Interact’s programs and services. Specifically, the fund may help with apartment and utility deposits, childcare, education, food, transportation and other basic financial needs and services.

"We believe that Nancy would be very proud and is probably looking down at us," said her friend, Jessica Adam. "She would be very happy we are doing something positive with our grief and our love for her."

The inaugural event to raise money for "Nancy’s Butterfly Fund" will be held June 13 at Life Time Fitness in Cary. The fundraiser will include a silent auction, live music, cocktails and hors d’oeuvres. Information on how to purchase tickets for the Life Time event will be released at a later date, organizers said.

Nancy Cooper, an avid runner, was a member of the club.

Organizers said they decided to call the fund the Butterfly Fund because in the days following her death, family members and friends kept noticing a butterfly in her neighborhood.

"A butterfly, both large and vivid, seemed to be a constant guest in our neighborhood, and it came to symbolize our departed friend," said Garry Rentz, Nancy Cooper’s father. "We have selected the butterfly symbol to memorialize, honor Nancy and to support victims whose lives are impacted by dysfunctional domestic violence relationships.”

To make a donation, visit www.interactofwake.org and select Nancy’s Butterfly Fund from the drop down list on the Donate page.

"If we can save even just one life, we feel that we've accomplished something," Adam said.


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  • CuriousT Apr 20, 2009

    Many times it's not about free will as most are indicating. When someone is emotionally abused, they also suffer from EXTREME self-esteem issues. Even when they get out, most of the time they GO BACK because it's an evil they understand and can deal with. Those that are in these relationships seem to function as well as you and I. However, their mental state is NOT NORMAL.

    Believe me, I know. I have a sister that is RETURNING to NC after I helped her to leave the state. She's returning to her abuser and if you talked to her right now, she'd tell you that it doesn't make sense........but she's going back to him anyway.

    I look for one of them to end up in prision, and the other one to end up dead. The Police can't help if she won't help herself, even when they get 911 calls and have to keep him from breaking down a door. They preferred the charges and then dropped them because she came to court with him. Having him serving time would at least have put it on the record.

  • Mac1 Apr 20, 2009

    None of my posts are related to the Cooper situation because I have not been following that specific case and don't know enough to have an opinion. My thoughts are about abusive relationships in general. But whether talking about the Cooper case or any other alleged domestic violence situation, its very dangerous to assume that the public side of a relationship is all that it appears to be. You never know what happens behind closed doors.

  • jbyrd Apr 20, 2009

    I had all but decided not to comment on this story but can't help myself.
    Rev.RB, normally you and I don't exactly see eye to eye but in this case I am in total agreement with every post you have made on this mess.
    Brad Cooper may not have been the perfect husband but I have serious doubts about any involvement in his wife's murder and based on ALL that has been reported about their life she pretty much had it made and was probably not very thrifty when it came to spending money. In fact, it seems the only real problem he OR his wife had was staying faithful to each other.

  • Adelinthe Apr 20, 2009

    Mac1 - "Many abused women aren't allowed to make choices in their daily life - their partners have systematically eroded their access to information, resources, and even money."

    You do realize that her parents sent her money to pay bills more than once, right?

    If things were so bad in that home, why didn't she take THAT money and run with her kids???

    God bless.


  • Adelinthe Apr 20, 2009

    UNCFan - "I think she was murdered by a random stranger out on a trail."

    I think it's something like that because of the state of her clothing when she was found.

    God bless.


  • Adelinthe Apr 20, 2009

    JAT - "But I still say, her actions spoke louder than her words. She told others how bad he was and how he never let her do anything, but she had all the freedom to do whatever she wanted, whenever she wanted. And she still left the kids in his care. There is NO WAY if I was scared for my life that I would go out drinking and dining w/friends and leave my children alone with him. Something just doesn't synch there."


    God bless.


  • Adelinthe Apr 20, 2009

    tiger - "...her husband is a murderer..."

    So the verdict is in then? Good to know we won't have to waste money on a judge and jury.

    God bless.


  • Adelinthe Apr 20, 2009

    kiedkiss - "Just because they lived a comfortable life does not mean that her life wasn't a living hell... which is what it sounds like it was according to her family and friends."

    If it was this bad, why did THEY let it go on?

    They couldn't make her leave, but they could have called the cops or DHS about the children living in that situation.

    That's why I don't believe much of what they're saying NOW.

    God bless.


  • iamyeary Apr 20, 2009

    Wonderful idea and name!!

    I think there is an old movie called "Butterflies Are Free". JUSTICE FOR NANCY!

  • Mac1 Apr 20, 2009

    JAT - it must be nice to live in your happy little world. It doesn't seem to resemble the reality that most people live in.

    Your assumption that women are choosing to live in abusive situations is based on a lack of understanding, compassion, and experience. Many abused women aren't allowed to make choices in their daily life - their partners have systematically eroded their access to information, resources, and even money. Furthermore, the abusers gain even more control by threatening to do more harm than even physical abuse - they threaten to harm their children or family members. So yes, a woman may choose to subject herself to abuse in that situation, if only to spare someone else the pain. And for all of the physical abuse that is doled out, its the emotional abuse that can render women incapable of escaping. Years of being told that you're worthless, insignificant, or incapable of making your own decisions will do that to a person.