Police: Cooper stories conflict

Husband of slain mom not charged

Staff WriterOctober 10, 2008 

— Bradley Cooper has been mum with Cary police in the three months since his wife Nancy was killed.

To help win his children back, however, Bradley Cooper sat down for a seven-hour talk about his life with Nancy Cooper and the days before her death in July.

Attorneys for Nancy Cooper's family submitted a video of Bradley Cooper's interview Thursday as part of a bitter court battle for custody of the couple's two daughters.

Nancy Cooper's body was found July 14, dumped in an unfinished subdivision near the family's home in Cary's Lochmere subdivision. A medical examiner has determined she was strangled to death.

Police have made no arrests and have named no suspects. Bradley Cooper, however, has been at the center of their investigation. Police were suspicious enough of him that they searched his computers for any evidence that he might have done research on how to dispose of a body. The FBI is analyzing these computers.

His attorneys have insisted he had nothing to do with his wife's death.

In an affidavit filed Thursday, the lead detective in Cary investigating Nancy Cooper's murder said that Bradley Cooper's interview didn't match statements he made to police days after his wife vanished in July. The detective, George G. Daniels, said that Bradley Cooper "has not fully cooperated" with their investigation and will not come to the Cary police department to provide more information.

During the deposition, Bradley Cooper spoke softly and formally. He wore a thick gold wedding band and smiled from time to time when he drew sketches of his family's home.

Bradley Cooper is embroiled in a bitter custody battle to win his daughters back. Nancy Cooper's family received emergency custody of 4-year-old Bella and 2-year-old Katie after a judge agreed that Bradley Cooper might pose a danger to the girls. They have kept the girls in Canada since.

A judge will revisit the custody arrangement Oct. 16.

Bradley and Nancy Cooper, natives of Canada, were in the process of separating when Nancy was killed. Nancy Cooper wanted to move with her two daughters to Canada to rejoin family; Bradley Cooper said during the deposition he tried to block that plan by taking one of the girls' passports and keeping it at his office, out of Nancy's reach.

When Nancy Cooper died, he said, the two were in the process of negotiating a custody agreement and child support.

Their marriage had unraveled over the last year, Bradley Cooper said, because he had an affair with one of his wife's friends. Bradley Cooper said he denied the infidelity for a while.

"I thought that if I told her about it, it would ruin our family and our kids would be affected," Bradley Cooper said during the deposition. "I thought that if I denied it, it would go away, and we could remain a whole family."

Cary Police Chief Pat Bazemore has declined to comment on the Coopers' custody battle. On Thursday, she said in a statement that her detective's sworn statement stands on its own.

"I will say that Detective Daniels has been able to meet the civil attorneys' requests for information without jeopardizing our murder investigation, which continues to be going very well," Bazemore said.

Though the criminal investigation remains unresolved, the custody battle is forcing questions about the death of Nancy Cooper into the public light. Wake County District Court Judge Debra Sasser said at a hearing earlier this month that that if no one is charged in Nancy Cooper's death before Oct. 16, she must consider Bradley Cooper's potential role in the slaying before awarding custody of the girls.

During Bradley Cooper's deposition, Alice Stubbs, an attorney for Nancy Cooper's family, drilled Bradley Cooper about the day Nancy vanished. Bradley Cooper said she had gone out for a run, and when she didn't return in time for him to make a tennis match with a friend, he assumed she was upset with him.

"She knew I was supposed to play tennis at 9:30, so I thought she was trying to get back at me," Bradley Cooper said.

Bradley Cooper said he set out to clean the house and wait for her return. He said he scrubbed the floors on his hands and knees and did at least five loads of laundry.

"I cleaned to try and make her happy," he said.

mandy.locke@newsobserver.com or 919-829-8927

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