Nancy Cooper

Brad Cooper seemed insincere, detective recalls

Posted March 16, 2011 10:25 a.m. EDT
Updated March 16, 2011 4:47 p.m. EDT

— Brad Cooper's reaction to the news that authorities might have found his wife's body did not seem sincere to the officers who broke the news to him, a Cary police detective testified Wednesday.

Adam Dismukes said Brad Cooper was sitting down on the evening of July 14, 2008, when they told him about the discovery near Holly Springs Road and Fielding Drive, about 3 miles from the couple's Cary home.

At the time, police still had not made a positive identification of the body.

"Mr. Cooper was holding his head and groaning, but I did not see him cry," Dismukes said. "The groaning seemed a little strange and a little forced."

Brad Cooper, 37, is on trial for first-degree murder in Nancy Cooper's July 12, 2008, death. He has claimed that she went jogging on the morning of her death and never returned home.

In several hours of testimony for the prosecution on Wednesday, Dismukes said that Brad Cooper seemed tired during their first interviews at the Cooper home the day Nancy Cooper was reported missing.

He also observed an adhesive bandage on Brad Cooper's left middle finger and red markings on the back of his neck.

The TV in the den was also tuned in to a golf match.

"That struck me as odd, given the nature of the (police) call," Dismukes testified.

A while later, Dismukes said, he was taking photos of the Cooper home when Brad Cooper commented that "he thought I would have a more high-powered camera."

"It struck me as bizarre, due to the nature of this being a missing person case," he said.

Dismukes said Brad Cooper also told him that Nancy Cooper's membership card had been swiped at her gym, Life Time Fitness, at 2:45 p.m. The detective later found out that an employee had entered her name to see if she checked in, which registered as a check-in but was generated by him inquiring.

"Nancy's membership card had not been swiped," he said, adding later that investigators found the card in a top chest of drawers in her bedroom.

Among other testimony from Dismukes:

  • Dismukes saw a purse in the floorboard of Nancy Cooper's BMW SUV with cash and a pair of children's jeans on the car seat. Outside, he observed a floor mat on the ground between her SUV and Brad Cooper's BMW that appeared to belong to the car.
  • Brad Cooper told investigators that, although he did not see his wife leave, he thought his wife usually wore a black and red sports bra when she ran. Nancy Cooper’s body was found with a similarly colored sports bra, the only piece of clothing on her.
  • Investigators thought Nancy Cooper might have died in the house, "due to the defendant's own statements and other statements," and at one point, Brad Cooper commented to them that they thought he was already a suspect.
  • When police went to the Cooper home with a search warrant, Brad Cooper questioned investigators about their right to be there.

Jeremy Burgin, a K-9 officer for the Cary Police Department, also testified on Wednesday that, on the night of Nancy Cooper's disappearance, he used her shoe to give his dog a scent to follow.

But the dog was never able to get a strong enough odor outside to track Nancy Cooper, indicating to Burgin that there was no scent of her leaving the house.

"He never entered into that tracking mode," Burgin said. "The odor outside – whatever existed outside – was not as great as Nancy's odor inside the house. Max was working inside the house, because he knew her odor was more saturated inside the house."

On Tuesday, jurors heard from Carey Clark, the woman who Brad Cooper has said he thought went jogging with his wife. She testified that she had no plans to run with Nancy Cooper on the day she disappeared.

Prosecutors have said the Coopers, both Canadian citizens, were in the process of separating and both had planned for Nancy Cooper to return to Canada with the couple's two young daughters.

In April 2008, however, Brad Cooper changed his mind, removed his wife's name from their bank and credit card accounts and took from her the children's passports to keep her from leaving, the state has said.

Defense attorneys have said the couple was struggling financially and that their client had to take such measures to keep them from financial ruin.

He changed his mind about Canada, because he realized he likely would not be able to see his daughters as often as he would have wanted.

The defense has said Cary police investigators disregarded evidence in the case, including 16 people who said they thought they saw Nancy Cooper jogging, that could have proved Brad Cooper did not kill his wife, because they were concerned about the town's reputation for being a safe community.