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Cooper search warrants: Husband's story inconsistent

Affidavits police submitted to get the warrants indicate Brad Cooper had unexplained scratch marks on his neck and had extensively cleaned his house the day his wife disappeared.

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Cary police were suspicious of Brad Cooper’s story the day they talked to him – two days before his wife was found murdered – saying it was inconsistent with what they heard in interviews with family and friends.

Search warrants released Tuesday show that officers found Nancy Cooper’s cell phone and keys inside the home, despite hearing from relatives that she always carried her keys as a form of protection.

Police first talked to Brad Cooper on Saturday, July 12, the day that a friend reported his wife missing because she did not show up for a meeting with her. An investigator said in a search warrant affidavit that there were "small red marks with scratches on the back side of Brad Cooper’s neck.”

Brad Cooper did not explain the marks, police said. They said he  told them he had spent the morning “scrubbing” floors, vacuuming, washing laundry and cleaning the house, doing it because of an argument he and Nancy Cooper had had days earlier about the condition of the house.

He also told investigators he and Nancy Cooper had been arguing Friday, the day before she went missing, about her being paid for helping a friend paint her house.

In the affidavit, investigators said he told them he had also recently cleaned his car because he had spilled gasoline in the trunk a few weeks earlier.

Investigators, however, noticed no gasoline odor. And, while the trunk was clean, they observed that the front of the car had not been vacuumed and had numerous items in the passenger seat, including mail and various receipts.

Among the items seized from the home were: a green dress, a black sports bra, a red shirt, blue and gray tennis shoes, high-heel shoes, a pink object thought to be a fingernail, a pillow, bed linen, “documents and writings,” two cameras and three computers.

Investigators also took swabs of the exterior of Brad Cooper's car, hair from the interior trunk lid, grass from the right front seat, hair from the bottom front right bumper and hair from the left front tire well. Also seized was “brownish-green vegetable material.”

After searching the Coopers’ home, authorities searched Brad Cooper’s office at Cisco Systems, where they seized several computers and external hard drives.

In obtaining warrants to examine those devices, investigators wrote in the affidavit that “these items (are) believed to contain information pertaining to the homicide of Nancy Lynn Cooper or illustrate and/or provide evidence of marital discord.”

Tuesday’s release of the warrants comes after a Superior Court judge sealed them for 60 days. Wake County prosecutors argued releasing them any earlier would compromise the investigation.

Wake County District Attorney Colon Willoughby declined to comment on the warrants or their release.

Brad Cooper's attorneys, Howard Kurtz and Seth Blum, said in a statement late Tuesday afternoon that the release of the warrants makes public the state of the police investigation as it was six weeks ago and that they "shed no light on who killed Nancy Cooper."

"Had substantial, credible evidence pointed to Brad Cooper, he would be in (police) custody," they said in the statement.

Authorities have said they do not believe Nancy Cooper’s slaying was a random crime, but they have not named a suspect or person of interest in the case. They've said little else, including how she died, and Tuesday's warrants provide no new information other than saying it was the result of "suspicious circumstances."

The warrants are of interest because they include affidavits in which investigators justify their requests, possibly including their theories of a case or explaining why a named person is being targeted for a search.

“Everyone must remember that investigations are as much about ruling things out as ruling things in and that it’s the evidence that comes from a search warrant – not the warrant itself – that makes a difference in a case,” Cary police Chief Pat Bazemore said in a written statement.

“We work closely with the Wake County District Attorney’s Office and other agencies in gathering and evaluating evidence as we seek the truth in every crime, and it’s only when we are absolutely sure and can prove it according to the letter of the law that we make the arrest(s).”

Brad Cooper told police Nancy Cooper went jogging around 7 a.m. on July 12 and never returned.

A man walking his dog on July 14 found Nancy Cooper’s body face-down on the bank of a storm pond near a cul-de-sac near Holly Springs Road and Fielding Drive — less than three miles from the Coopers’ home.

“Our family continues to have great confidence in the Cary Police Department and applaud their efforts on behalf of one of us,” Nancy Cooper’s father, Garry Rentz said in a statement Tuesday afternoon.

“We echo the comments Chief Bazemore made on Nancy’s recent birthday: A resolution of this case would indeed be a wonderful gift to all of us.”

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