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Slain mom's parents stand against domestic violence

Posted June 12, 2009
Updated June 28, 2010

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— The parents of a Cary woman slain nearly a year ago said Friday that they hope the work done in their daughter's memory will help women in unsafe domestic circumstances get the help they need.

Garry and Donna Rentz, of Edmonton, Alberta, helped start Nancy's Butterfly Fund, in memory of their daughter, Nancy Cooper, to benefit women and their children in abusive situations.

The Rentzes plan to attend the fund's sold-out inaugural charity event Saturday at Life Time Fitness in Cary to raise money for Interact of Wake County – a local nonprofit that supports domestic violence victims.

A 1.8-mile memorial fun run is also planned for July 11 – the day prior to the anniversary of Nancy Cooper's death – at Koka Booth Amphitheatre's Symphony Lake in Cary.

"We hope, in some way, that what we are doing here will create an awareness and will allow people to come forward and help or come forward and speak out if they find themselves in that position," Garry Rentz said.

Cary police have said that Cooper, who was found dead in an undeveloped subdivision last July, was a victim of "domestic violence of the worst kind" and have alleged that her husband, Brad Cooper, is responsible for her death. He had denied the allegation.

The crime and a very public 10-month custody battle involving the Coopers' two young daughters captured local and international media attention (the couple was from Canada) – attention that the Rentzes hope will help shed light on domestic violence.

Garry and Donna Rentz Nancy Cooper's parents speak

"We felt that maybe there's a chance here to help somebody who's in a situation and doesn't recognize the seriousness of the situation they're in, and we might be able to do something for someone," Garry Rentz said. "That made us feel good, and hence, we got started."

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 two young daughters to leave.

The Butterfly Fund's goal is to minimize the financial obstacles that might prevent women from leaving abusive situations, which Interact has said, are not always violent.

"That is so very important (to understand), because so many times, there are no signs," Donna Rentz said. "Domestic violence is a topic that people don't discuss. A lot of people don't understand the statistics. Garry and I did not understand the statistics."

A July 2000 study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Justice Department found that 25 percent of women said that they had been abused by a partner.

Cooper's parents take stand against domestic violence

Other statistics showed that nearly half of the women murdered in the U.S. are killed by current or former intimate partners.

The pain of losing their daughter is still fresh for the Rentzes, but they said their work in helping to establish the Butterfly Fund has helped them in their healing process.

"It's been a very busy year, but I think, also very curative for us, because it's allowed us to do something our daughter would be proud of us for doing," Garry Rentz said.

"I got off the plane yesterday, and I can tell you where she used to stand every time I came," Donna Rentz said. "Every day, we think about Nancy. And what we're doing here really helps."


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  • jam2 Jun 15, 2009

    There are definitly two sides to every story. Whether Brad is guilty or not, he was wronged, as well.

  • itsmyownopinion Jun 15, 2009

    I'm still on the fence on this case. Yes, I'm sorry Nancy Cooper is dead, leaving behind her small children, parents and siblings and all those who loved her, but I'm not convinced yet that Brad Cooper killed her. If she stepped outside her marriage, can we be sure the killer was not her 'lover'? I certainly don't want to pass judgment on her parents, because I have a daughter, and I wouldn't want to ever be in their shoes. I am not buying the "she didn't have the resources to leave" routine, and if her family can keep coming and going from Canada now, why couldn't they provide the help she needed to get out of the marriage if it was indeed as bad as they now claim? Why not give her more support while she was living, rather than wait until she was murdered and now give all this attention to helping others in domestic violence. Charity needs to begin at home. Where were they when she was floundering in such a horrible marriage? Well, here I go getting close to being judgmental.

  • AX Jun 12, 2009

    Grrrrrrrrrrrrrr looks like the Rentz family LOVES media attention!!!! Have they ever heard of letting a loved one Rest In Peace?????????

  • SomeRandomGuy Jun 12, 2009

    Is there ANY evidence supporting the claim she was abused? She was on vacation with her parents at the beach not long before she died. Why didn't they take her back to Canada then if it was so bad for her?

  • scfair Jun 12, 2009

    Perhaps there is a reason that Brad Cooper's family is rarely mentioned?

  • scfair Jun 12, 2009

    Perhaps there is a reason that Brad Cooper's family is rarely mentioned? Like perhaps they think he is guilty too?

  • hp277 Jun 12, 2009

    The Rentz family is making every effort to taint the jury pool against Brad Cooper. They have been out to get him all along, guilty or not.

  • brewmonkey Jun 12, 2009

    hmm. perhaps brad cooper's family could start a similar fund, for husbands with wives who cheat on them and spend the family into the poor house.