Nancy Cooper

FBI agent: Brad Cooper intercepted wife's emails

Posted April 11, 2011 5:00 a.m. EDT
Updated April 11, 2011 11:16 p.m. EDT

— A computer forensics analyst with the FBI testified Monday that Brad Cooper intercepted emails to his wife from her friends, family and divorce attorney in the months preceding her death.

Gregory Johnson, a special agent with the FBI's Computer Analysis Response Team, said he found messages on Brad Cooper's work computer that had been forwarded from Nancy Cooper's email account on a desktop computer in the couple's Cary home.

Prosecutors have said that Brad Cooper, 37, strangled Nancy Cooper after she arrived home from a neighborhood party in the early hours of July 12, 2008, and then dumped her body at a construction site just outside Cary's town limits.

Defense attorneys contend that Nancy Cooper, 34, went jogging around 7 a.m. on July 12, 2008, and never returned home.

Johnson testified that there were more than 1,000 emails recovered on Brad Cooper's laptop, including messages from an old boyfriend, her attorney, Alice Stubbs, her father and an email invitation for a going away party in Nancy Cooper's honor.

Video of Johnson's testimony could not be posted on WRAL.com because of Superior Court Judge Paul Gessner's ruling protecting the identity of some law enforcement officers.

Other messages Johnson found included a series of emails between Brad Cooper and a French graduate co-ed he met in early 2007 while on a trip to France.

Brad Cooper wrote that he was learning French and was considering moving there, Johnson said. He also set up a French phone number to forward her calls to his cellphone, he wrote in another email.

Earlier Monday, a forensics electronics examiner for the FBI, testified that he couldn't find contacts or a call log on the Samsung Blackjack cellphone that Brad Cooper used while working for Cisco Systems Inc.

Charles Wilmore said he was unable to determine why the data wasn't on the phone but concluded that it had likely been deleted – either by the user or by some other means, such as replacing the phone's SIM card or the information being remotely deleted.

Cary police believe Brad Cooper used his expertise as a Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) engineer to make a call from his cellphone that appeared to come from his home phone on the morning Nancy Cooper disappeared.

Defense attorneys have said that Nancy Cooper made the call, which proves she was still alive at the time authorities have said she was dead.

Cary police, the defense says, ignored evidence that didn't support their "Brad did it" theory, because they were concerned about the town's reputation as a safe community.

The state contends that Nancy Cooper was in the process of separating from her husband in 2008, and that Brad Cooper became financially controlling of her to keep her from moving to Canada with their two young daughters.

Witnesses testified last week that Brad Cooper changed his mind about the move when he found out about what his financial obligations might have been.

Nancy Cooper's father, Garry Rentz, testified Monday that finances had been a source of trouble in the marriage.

"They had discussed things being tight. That's all I knew," Rentz, said Monday, adding that he was unaware, until recently, about the magnitude of the problem.

Rentz on Monday also identified a pair of Saucony running shoes seized from the Cooper home as those his daughter wore running while on vacation the week prior to her death.

He remembered the shoes, he said, because he had teased her previously about the type of shoes she had used.

Police never found the pair of running shoes that Brad Cooper has said his wife wore the day she disappeared.