Nancy Cooper

Brad Cooper's laptop accessed photos where wife's body found

Posted April 13, 2011 2:47 p.m. EDT
Updated April 14, 2011 9:30 a.m. EDT

— An FBI investigator testified Wednesday that he found evidence that, on the day before Nancy Cooper disappeared, photos of the area where her body was later found were accessed on her husband's laptop computer.

Brad Cooper, 37, is accused of killing his wife in their Cary home in the early hours of July 12, 2008, and dumping her body in a drainage ditch in an undeveloped subdivision 3 miles away.

A man discovered the body two days later while walking in the area near Holly Springs Road and Fielding Drive just outside Cary's town limits. An autopsy found Nancy Cooper, 34, had been strangled.

Chris Chappell, a Durham police detective assigned to the FBI's Cyber Task Force, said that multiple aerial photos were accessed from Google Maps on Brad Cooper's laptop computer at 1:15 p.m. on July 11, 2008, while he was at work.

"It appears to be from the area of Fielding Drive," Chappell said. "It is my understanding (that’s) where Nancy Cooper's body was found."

Chappell said that Brad Cooper's computer files showed that someone searched for the ZIP code 27518 and determined, based on the latitude and longitude, that the center of that area was Fielding Drive.

Through a more in-depth examination, Chappell said, he found that the user zoomed in on the map for multiple views of the area.

"This is from before Nancy Cooper's body was found?" Wake County Assistant District Attorney Boz Zellinger asked.

"That's correct," Chappell answered.

Wednesday marked the 25th day of testimony in the case for prosecutors.

Dozens of witnesses have testified about troubles in the Coopers' marriage and about Brad Cooper's behavior in the days after his wife was reported missing and her body was recovered.

But Chappell's finding, from Sept. 15, 2008, is the most significant piece of evidence in the case linking Brad Cooper to his wife's death.

Brad Cooper testified on Oct. 2, 2008, during a custody case involving his two children, that he was aware of the Fielding Drive area only because of news reports and that he had no interest in driving past the location.

Testimony Wednesday was preceded by motions from defense attorney Howard Kurtz to strike all FBI testimony.

Kurtz said prosecutors never notified him about certain tests that agents used to recover data from the computer and that he wasn't able to properly cross-examine the witnesses.

Superior Court Judge Paul Gessner denied the requests.

Brad Cooper's defense attorneys have said their client is innocent and that Cary police ignored evidence that could have helped them find Nancy Cooper's killer.

They maintain that computers in the case were tampered with and that the FBI failed to investigate the allegations.

Brad Cooper has said that his wife went jogging around 7 a.m. on July 12, 2008, and never returned home.

A friend contacted police several hours later, saying she was concerned that she hadn't heard from Nancy Cooper, whom she expected at her house about an hour after Brad Cooper has said she left to go jogging.