Local News

Brad Cooper's attorney: 'He did not kill his wife'

Posted July 18, 2008 3:40 p.m. EDT
Updated July 19, 2008 10:05 a.m. EDT

— Relatives and close friends of a slain Cary mother of two attended a private vigil on Friday evening, while her husband's attorney defended his client against "wild speculation" and "bizarre and unsupported theories" reported on TV and the Internet.

Brad Cooper "has been very, very clear with police: He did not kill his wife," attorney Seth Blum told reporters Friday afternoon.

Blum said that Brad Cooper has cooperated in everything police have asked of him during the investigation into the homicide of Nancy Cooper, 34. He has made himself, his home and vehicles available to investigators, Blum said.

"Brad Cooper is a very private man, and he is not accustomed to the hot glare of the media spotlight," the attorney said. "He never dreamed that he would see his face splashed across television news shows or his name in headlines, especially not under these terrible circumstances."

Blum declined, however, to rebut any reports about his client, saying that doing so would jeopardize the integrity of the murder investigation.

"Any answer that I give to that would draw attention to a specific fact and could compromise the investigation, and we're not willing to do that," he said.

The attorney said that Brad Cooper is in mourning and that people grieve in different ways.

Also mourning, were dozens who attended the private vigil for Nancy Cooper at Triangle Academy Preschool, 200 Dancers Lane, on Friday evening.

"It has been particularly hard for those who knew her and loved her, and this is the best we could hope for," Julia Cobley, Nancy Cooper's music teacher.

Blum's news conference came on the heels of a series of Cary police news conferences this week in which Nancy Cooper's family members spoke publicly about their loss. It also came two days after they filed for custody of the Coopers' two young daughters, claiming emotional abuse and an extramarital affair on Brad Cooper's part.

Blum declined to comment on the custody matter, asking the public to allow it to be handled privately.

"Mr. Cooper loves his daughters. They are two little girls who have done nothing to deserve what they are going through," he said. "Like any good father, he wants to shield them from all horrors, and this is clearly a horrible, horrible thing."

Nancy Cooper's relatives said they have not found a way to tell Bella, 4, and Katie, 2, about their mother's death.

"We're pretty fortunate that Krista (Cooper's twin sister) has a striking resemblance to their mother, so that's comforting to them," Jim Lister, Nancy Cooper's brother-in-law, said.

Brad Cooper attended one of the police press briefings on Monday and has since been absent from them. He was expected to attend one Tuesday afternoon, but decided not to at the last minute.

"Attending press briefings does nothing to catch a killer," Blum said.

Cary police said Thursday they have no suspects or persons of interest in Nancy Cooper's death, but do not believe it was random.

Brad Cooper told police his wife went jogging July 12 around 7 a.m. and never returned. Authorities recovered her body earlier this week less than three miles from her home.

Garry Rentz, Nancy Cooper's father, said Friday morning he and his daughter were close and that he had not been worried about her.

"I knew every detail of what was going on, from her concerns to her worries to whatever," he said. "She shared everything."

"I was worried," her mother, Donna Rentz, said.

Brad Cooper told WRAL News earlier this week that he and his wife were having marriage difficulties. Cary police Chief Pat Bazemore confirmed that Tuesday and said the information would be part of the investigation.

On Wednesday, investigators obtained a search warrant for a detailed search of the Cooper home and for forensic evidence from Brad Cooper. Investigators took several large brown bags from the home.

Forensic evidence from a murder victim's spouse is a routine procedure, and Bazemore has said that an investigation "is as important for ruling things out as it is for ruling things in."

Funeral services for Nancy Cooper were still pending Friday afternoon. A public memorial service was scheduled for 2:30 p.m. Saturday at Koka Booth Amphitheatre at Regency Park, 8003 Regency Parkway.