Local News

Nancy Cooper's family: Children 'our primary concern'

Posted July 18, 2008 5:35 a.m. EDT
Updated July 18, 2008 7:02 p.m. EDT

— Family members of Nancy Cooper say their "primary interest" right now is the wellbeing of her two young daughters, and they plan to take them back to Canada this weekend.

"Our primary concern is care of these children, and that what we do is not going to hinder or hurt them in any way, and we're being very cautious," Donna Rentz said of her grandchildren during a news conference Friday.

The family also announced a public memorial service for 2:30 p.m. Saturday at Koka Booth Amphitheatre at Regency Park. They will also hold a small private vigil Friday evening for family, close friends of Cooper's and invited guests.

They are in the process of establishing a trust fund for the children and expect that information to be available later Friday.

Nancy Cooper's family has temporary custody of Bella, 4, and Katie, who will turn 2 next week. Already, the family said, they see a lot of Cooper's "love and pure joy of life" in the children.

"Bella's very strong, very opinionated, and if she doesn't agree with something that you're doing, she'll let you know," Cooper's brother, Jeff Rentz said. "There's absolutely no doubt. And Nancy was always like that."

"(Katie is) a happy, funny little girl, and she's just exactly like her mother," Donna Rentz said. "She loves everything she does every day."

The family still has not told the children about their mother, they said, and they were expected to meet with grief counselors Friday to determine the most appropriate way to do so.

"We have not told them, and they have not mentioned to us that they know. So, we are going to walk very gingerly into this area," Cooper's father, Garry Rentz said.

Cooper, 34, was reported missing Saturday when she failed to meet up with a friend as planned. Two days later, authorities recovered her body, wearing little clothing, in an undeveloped subdivision less than three miles from her home.

Police have not named a suspect or any persons of interest in her death and don't expect to make an arrest this weekend.

"I think this is an act of extreme cowardice by whoever did this, and I think if they had a shred of decency in their body, that they would come forward and acknowledge their guilt," Garry Rentz said Friday.

Cary police are saying very little about the case, and Chief Pat Bazemore said Friday no other updates were expected until they name a suspect or make an arrest.

Bazemore said Thursday that Brad Cooper, has been cooperative in the investigation

Nancy Cooper's family filed for custody of the children Wednesday, claiming he is emotionally unstable and poses a threat to them.

They allege he emotionally abused his wife and children, withheld funds for basic needs and had a sexual relationship with another woman.

The court scheduled a hearing on the matter for July 25, and Donna Rentz said they will be back in North Carolina for it.

"The fact that the kids are happy and away from the publicity and the rumors – that's our goal," she said. "We want to have them in an environment where they're with the people who love them and care for them, and they're safe," Donna Rentz said.