Local News

Brad Cooper tells his story in seven-hour deposition

Posted October 9, 2008 11:46 a.m. EDT
Updated October 10, 2008 8:12 a.m. EDT

— New affidavits filed in a Cary custody case cast doubt on statements Brad Cooper made to police after the July slaying of his wife, Nancy Cooper.

Cary police Det. George Daniels, who has watched a video deposition Brad Cooper gave on Oct. 2, said in an affidavit filed Thursday that statements Cooper made under oath as part of the custody battle with his in-laws differ from what he told police in the days after his wife's disappearance.

In the seven-hour video deposition filed in Wake County District Court Thursday afternoon, Brad Cooper tells attorneys for his wife's family that he has hired a private investigator but does not say why. His attorneys cite attorney-client privilege.

Cooper also details his account of the morning his wife disappeared, an extramarital affair he had with a co-worker's wife and other details about how the couple was having marital issues, including financial problems caused by his wife's excessive spending.

"She spent more than we had, which was unfortunate, and she drank a little more than I would have wanted her to," he said.

They had attempted marriage counseling but were in the process of separating – because, he said, Nancy Cooper could not get past the affair – and since the beginning of the year, they had been sleeping in separate bedrooms.

But Brad Cooper said his wife was "a great mother" and a supportive wife.

He said he has also thought about moving out of their home, "but I really haven't given it that much thought. It hasn't been my primary focus," he said. His focus, he said, is "being able to see my girls again" and "helping out with the investigation of Nancy."

But Daniels, in his affidavit, states the testimony is inconsistent with the statements Brad Cooper made early on to Cary police "and evidence that we have gathered during the investigation."

A friend reported Nancy Cooper, 34, missing on the afternoon of July 12 after, according to her husband, she went jogging and never returned. She was supposed to have met the friend that afternoon.

Although it is unknown what details Daniels means are  inconsistent, Brad Cooper says in the deposition that he was upstairs with his youngest daughter, Katie, checking e-mail when his wife left for a jog around 7 a.m. He said he did not see her leave and was unsure of what she was wearing.

"Either she said, 'Goodbye,' or the door closed. I'm not too sure if she actually said goodbye. Either way, I somehow knew she had left," he said. "The door had closed, she said, 'Later,' or something."

From approximately 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., he said, he was cleaning the house "to make her as happy as best I could." He vacuumed, did laundry and washed the floors in the kitchen and hallway with hot water and vinegar, he said.

When Nancy Cooper had not returned home by 1 p.m., Brad Cooper said he packed his children in his car and drove around looking for her at Lochmere Lake, nearby neighborhoods and at their gym, Life Time Fitness.

"I was driving like a mad man, kind of not knowing where she was. So, for an hour, I drove around looking for her," Cooper said.

Nancy Cooper's body was found two days later in an undeveloped subdivision about three miles from the Coopers' Lochmere home in Cary. An autopsy determined she likely was strangled.

On July 16, Nancy Cooper's parents, Garry and Donna Rentz, and sister, Krista Lister, filed for custody of the Coopers' two daughters, claiming Brad Cooper is an unfit father and, among other allegations, that he had been emotionally abusive to and financially controlling of his wife in the months before she was killed.

Although Brad Cooper has not been called a suspect in his wife's slaying, he has been the focus of investigators' search warrants in the case. Through his attorneys, he has denied being involved in her death, and they have said that he would remain cooperative with investigators.

But Daniels, the lead investigator in the case, states in his affidavit that Brad Cooper "has not fully cooperated" and he "has not been willing to come to the police department to assist in the investigation" despite formal requests from Cary police to do so.

Daniels' affidavit was among a number of other affidavits filed this week in preparation for the custody hearing, scheduled for Oct. 16.

In another affidavit, Gary Beard, who was the Coopers' exterminator for the past seven years, testifies how it was "impossible to park a car in their garage" when he serviced the house on July 8, because it was full of toys and other items.

"The Coopers' garage was full of toys and other items making it impossible for someone to park a car in their garage," Beard states. "Their garage remains as cluttered as ever."

That appears to contradict a statement in Cooper's deposition in which he says that on Saturday, June 28, he said there were so many toys in the garage, he organized it so "we could actually have one car in the garage."

In another affidavit, Cary mother Shirley Hull recalls an argument the Coopers had in the parking lot of their daughters' school on May 24.

She describes "the sound of children screaming and crying" as she walked to her car at Triangle Academy Preschool. She said she saw Nancy Cooper crying and heard Brad Cooper yell, "Give me the girls!"

Her affidavit continues: "I also heard him scream obscenities in front of Katie and Bella, who were screaming and crying hysterically."

Calls to Brad Cooper's attorneys Thursday were not immediately returned, and Alice Stubbs, who represents Nancy Cooper's family, declined an interview, saying the deposition and affidavits speak for themselves.

Cary Police Chief Pat Bazemore has declined to comment about the murder case, but said in a statement Thursday afternoon that the investigation "continues to be going very well."

District Judge Debra Sasser, who is presiding over the custody case, said during a motions hearing last week that if no one is charged in the case before the custody hearing, she would have to make the determination whether Brad Cooper was involved – a critical factor in deciding whether the children would be safe, she said.