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Slain mom's parents stand against domestic violence

Garry and Donna Rentz helped start Nancy's Butterfly Fund, in memory of their slain daughter, Nancy Cooper, to benefit women and their children in abusive situations.

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RALEIGH, N.C. — The parents of a Cary woman slain nearly a year ago said Friday that they hope the work done in their daughter's memory will help women in unsafe domestic circumstances get the help they need.

Garry and Donna Rentz, of Edmonton, Alberta, helped start Nancy's Butterfly Fund, in memory of their daughter, Nancy Cooper, to benefit women and their children in abusive situations.

The Rentzes plan to attend the fund's sold-out inaugural charity event Saturday at Life Time Fitness in Cary to raise money for Interact of Wake County – a local nonprofit that supports domestic violence victims.

A 1.8-mile memorial fun run is also planned for July 11 – the day prior to the anniversary of Nancy Cooper's death – at Koka Booth Amphitheatre's Symphony Lake in Cary.

"We hope, in some way, that what we are doing here will create an awareness and will allow people to come forward and help or come forward and speak out if they find themselves in that position," Garry Rentz said.

Cary police have said that Cooper, who was found dead in an undeveloped subdivision last July, was a victim of "domestic violence of the worst kind" and have alleged that her husband, Brad Cooper, is responsible for her death. He had denied the allegation.

The crime and a very public 10-month custody battle involving the Coopers' two young daughters captured local and international media attention (the couple was from Canada) – attention that the Rentzes hope will help shed light on domestic violence.

"We felt that maybe there's a chance here to help somebody who's in a situation and doesn't recognize the seriousness of the situation they're in, and we might be able to do something for someone," Garry Rentz said. "That made us feel good, and hence, we got started."

Family members and friends have claimed that Brad Cooper was emotionally abusive to his wife and cut her off from money, which made it difficult for her and her two young daughters to leave.

The Butterfly Fund's goal is to minimize the financial obstacles that might prevent women from leaving abusive situations, which Interact has said, are not always violent.

"That is so very important (to understand), because so many times, there are no signs," Donna Rentz said. "Domestic violence is a topic that people don't discuss. A lot of people don't understand the statistics. Garry and I did not understand the statistics."

A July 2000 study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Justice Department found that 25 percent of women said that they had been abused by a partner.

Other statistics showed that nearly half of the women murdered in the U.S. are killed by current or former intimate partners.

The pain of losing their daughter is still fresh for the Rentzes, but they said their work in helping to establish the Butterfly Fund has helped them in their healing process.

"It's been a very busy year, but I think, also very curative for us, because it's allowed us to do something our daughter would be proud of us for doing," Garry Rentz said.

"I got off the plane yesterday, and I can tell you where she used to stand every time I came," Donna Rentz said. "Every day, we think about Nancy. And what we're doing here really helps."