The husband of slain North Carolina mother Nancy Cooper has not been named a suspect in her killing, but the fact that a judge agreed with her family that Bradley Cooper “posed a danger” to their two children suggests police may be investigating the spouse, a legal expert said Friday.
“To take the kids away from a biological parent is a big deal,” NBC chief legal correspondent Dan Abrams told TODAY’s Natalie Morales. “It tells us that they’re looking at the husband.”
The Cary, N.C., housewife was found dead on the morning of Saturday, July 12. Her body was lying in a small pool of water near a storm drain at a construction site near her home. Brad Cooper, who has asked the public to help find her killer, said that his wife had gone jogging and hadn't returned home. She was found after being reported missing by a friend.
A dark picture
Nancy Cooper’s family have declined to comment about Brad Cooper’s possible involvement in the killing. But in filing for emergency custody of the couple’s two young daughters, Bella, 4, and Katie, 2, they painted a dark picture of the 34-year-old murder victim’s husband.
They told the judge he “posed a danger to the physical safety of the minor children.” They alleged that he had been having an affair and had been emotionally abusive for several months, belittling the mother in front of their children. He had also withheld money from her, they said, forcing her to borrow money from her family to buy groceries. They also said they have reason to believe that Nancy Cooper never went jogging, as her husband claims.
Both Brad and Nancy Cooper are Canadian nationals, and the family said that Brad Cooper had refused to give his wife their children’s passports when she asked to take them back to Canada. They said he is mentally unstable and had threatened suicide.
Brad Cooper provided DNA to police, but Abrams noted that such evidence is not always helpful in cases in which a spouse is a murder suspect.
“DNA is always tough in a case where they’re looking at a spouse, because you’d expect to find his DNA everywhere around her, in her house, on her body,” Abrams said. “They’re going to be looking for it in unusual places, for example under fingernails, near blood, near where the body was found. [They're] also doing it possibly to exclude him, as well.”
Jill Dean, sister of Nancy Cooper.
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In an earlier appearance with TODAY's Ann Curry, Nancy Cooper’s sister and friends remembered her as a happy and active woman who was well loved in her community.
“I want people to remember her for that wonderful person and not someone who was befallen by tragedy,” Cooper’s sister, Jill Dean, said in an interview from Edmonton, Canada.
Nancy Cooper’s parents, Garry and Donna Rentz, were granted custody of the children Friday in an emergency custody hearing. Also sharing custody is Nancy Cooper’s identical twin sister, Khrista.
Dean told Curry that the family will not talk about Brad Cooper or speculate whether he’s responsible for her death.