Local News

Husband arrested in Nancy Cooper's death

Posted October 27, 2008 5:23 p.m. EDT
Updated October 28, 2008 5:56 a.m. EDT

— A Wake County grand jury indicted a Cary man on first-degree murder Monday in the death of his wife, more than three months after he said she went jogging and never returned home.

"With this arrest, it should now be clear to everyone that Cary citizens have been, and are, safe," Cary police Chief Pat Bazemore said at a news conference Monday evening. "This has really never been the case about a jogger being randomly attacked. It has been a case of domestic violence of the very worst kind."

Bradley Graham Cooper, 35, of 104 Wallsburg Court, was held in the Wake County jail Monday evening without bond in connection with the July 12 slaying of his wife, Nancy Cooper, 34.

He is scheduled to appear before a Wake County District Court judge at 2 p.m. Tuesday.

A man walking his dog on July 14 found Nancy Cooper's body on the bank of a storm pond off a cul-de-sac, near Holly Springs Road and Fielding Drive — less than three miles from the Coopers’ home in the Lochmere subdivision of Cary. A state medical examiner's autopsy found she had likely been strangled.

Since July, Cary police have said little about the case, saying only that they did not believe Nancy Cooper's death was a random act. But search warrants and a temporary custody dispute over the Coopers' two young daughters led to suspicion that Brad Cooper was somehow involved in his wife's death.

Brad Cooper, through his attorneys, has denied playing any role in her death. He has said in court filings he last saw her on July 12 before she went jogging. When she did not return, he has said, he went looking for her.

One of Brad Cooper's attorneys, Seth Blum, declined to comment Monday afternoon on his client's arrest but said he would have surrendered to authorities if he had been given the chance. Cary police arrested him at his home shortly after the grand jury handed down its indictment.

Brad Cooper has admitted to police that he and his wife were having marital difficulties after he had an extramarital affair. They were in the process of separating at the time of her death.

In filing for temporary custody of the Cooper children, Nancy Cooper's parents and identical sister claimed that Brad Cooper is mentally unstable and had been emotionally abusive to his wife in the months prior to her death. Last week, a Wake County District Court judge awarded temporary custody to the family, who lives in Canada.

Nancy Cooper's father, Garry Rentz, said Monday evening that he and his family are grateful that they can care for the Cooper children "during these turbulent days," and he thanked authorities for their for their "tireless and thorough" efforts in bringing forth an arrest. He also thanked his attorneys "who enabled us to seek a just outcome in our matter."

"Nancy's memory has been kept alive by a family who loved her, by a group of incredible friends who were always there for her and for our family," Rentz said. "All of you have our heartfelt thanks."

Bazemore said it took investigators more than three months to rule out possibilities in the case until they were left with facts and what they believed to be the truth.

"Our commitment to our victims, their families and our citizens at large is to be accurate, thorough and complete," she said. "This takes patient, restraint, dedication and time."

Bazemore declined to answer questions, saying that since an arrest has been made, the case has been turned over to Wake County prosecutors.

"No one can take pleasure or joy in this. It's a tragedy – just a tragedy beyond belief," Wade Smith, an attorney representing Nancy Cooper's family in the custody case, said. "And on behalf of the family, we are grateful that the police have pursued this (case) to the point where there is an arrest."

Meanwhile, friends of Nancy Cooper's who live in the Lochmere neighborhood, said they were relieved to hear the news of an arrest.

"It's been hard to really grieve for our friend without some start to a resolution," her friend, Hannah Prichard, said. "We're one step closer to a conclusion and justice for Nancy."

"She was kindest, most generous loving friend I've ever had," she continued. "She was definitely once in a lifetime."