Local News

Police press search for Cary mom's killer with two new warrants

Posted July 30, 2008 10:29 a.m. EDT
Updated July 30, 2008 10:52 p.m. EDT

— Cary police have returned two additional search warrants in their search for a suspect in the death of Nancy Cooper.

Cooper, 34, a mother of two, was found dead in an undeveloped subdivision just outside Cary’s town limit on July 14, two days after a friend reported her missing when she failed to show up for a planned meeting.

Her husband, Brad Cooper, told authorities his wife went jogging and never returned.

A warrant issued on July 21 allowed police access to , where Brad Cooper works. Cisco spokeswoman Kirsten Weeks said Thursday that Brad Cooper is on paid administrative leave from his job in telephone technology and that the company is "providing full support on authorities in their investigation."

A second warrant didn't specify a search location. A search warrant can be issued for a home, office or other building, or for a car, a computer, or even a person.

Both warrants were ordered sealed by a judge.

Police searched the Coopers' house and vehicles and got DNA evidence from Brad Cooper on July 16. The warrants allowing those searches are also sealed.

WRAL News and other local media are expected to argue that the warrants be made public at a hearing Thursday. Lawyers representing Capitol Broadcasting Co., the parent of WRAL News, and The News & Observer delivered a letter of intent to Superior Court Judge Donald W. Stephens Monday requesting the hearing.

In the motion filed Monday, WRAL's lawyers asked for the warrant application and the list of items seized under conditions of the warrant to be made public.

By law, affidavits to obtain a search warrant must contain a detailed explanation of probable cause, and they usually have specifics about what police believe happened to the victim. Sometimes they contain investigators' theories about the suspect and motive behind a crime.

In sealing the warrants, Stephens said the release of the documents could compromise the ongoing murder investigation or jeopardize a defendant's right to a fair trial.

Raleigh attorney Dan Boyce, a former prosecutor, said authorities try to strike a delicate balance between the release of enough information and too much.

"I think there's a very valid basis to seal an affidavit for a limited period of time to give law enforcement opportunity to use their law enforcement tools and techniques to investigate a case," Boyce said.

"But to do it for a long period of time just to keep the public (from) knowing what the facts are, I think you can go too far."

Stephens is expected to rule on warrants in the Cooper case Thursday. If he denies the request of the media organizations, they remain sealed until the middle of August.

Authorities have released little information in the case of Cooper's disappearance and death but have said they do not believe it was a random act. They have not named a suspect or a person of interest in her death.