Investigation focuses on Coopers' house

Lawyers seek privacy for husband, who was told to give DNA evidence

07/17/2008 12:00 AM

09/22/2009 8:00 AM

Police hope the home where Nancy Cooper built her American life will tell the story of her death.

Cary officers spent Wednesday scouring the two-story brick house that Cooper shared with her husband, Bradley, and their two daughters in the town's vast Lochmere subdivision. They walked gingerly in protective booties, hauling out potential clues in brown paper sacks. Bradley Cooper, Nancy's husband, got out of the way, settling in with friends.

Nancy Cooper, who moved from Canada to Cary eight years ago, vanished Saturday. Her body was found dumped near a storm drain in an unfinished subdivision near her home Monday.

Police have named no suspects, but at 2 a.m. Wednesday, a judge ordered Bradley Cooper to submit blood or saliva to help police capture a DNA profile. Cary police also got permission to collect evidence from the couple's home and cars.

Later in the day, they focused full attention on the house, abandoning the crime scene they'd established Monday where they found Cooper's body. Teams of investigators pulled beach bags and strollers from the family's car while others carried unidentifiable items wrapped in brown paper.

Wednesday was a day of whispering and waiting as police tried to zero in on the mother's killer. The national media featured Cooper's death; strangers gossiped about the couple on Internet message boards.

Cary Police Chief Pat Bazemore plans another news conference this morning. So far, investigators have kept most details of the case quiet, including how Nancy Cooper died.

Bazemore was circumspect about the meaning of Wednesday's searches. "An investigation is as important for ruling things out as it is for ruling things in," she said.

Bradley Cooper has hired Raleigh criminal defense lawyers Howard Kurtz and Seth Blum, who issued a statement on his behalf Wednesday: "Brad is devastated by the news of Nancy's death. He has and will continue to assist in law enforcement efforts to bring his wife's killer or killers to justice. To avoid jeopardizing the investigation, he will not be answering any questions from the press."

The Coopers settled in Cary about eight years ago after Bradley Cooper accepted a transfer with Cisco Systems from Calgary to Research Triangle Park. Nancy Cooper was rearing their two daughters; Bradley Cooper rose through the ranks at Cisco, finishing a graduate business program at N.C. State University last year.

He had opened his home to investigators earlier in the week. Bazemore said they'd offered Cooper a police escort, too, which he'd accepted for days. Late Tuesday, he went to stay with friends as police wrapped crime-scene tape around the house. Bazemore said he continued to care for his daughters, 4 and 2, with help from friends.

Kurtz and Blum asked for Cooper's privacy and for anyone with information to come forward to police.

Bradley Cooper has said he and his wife had been having marital problems but wouldn't elaborate. Bazemore said Wednesday that strife is part of their investigation.

Brett Adam, a friend of the Coopers' whose wife reported her missing Saturday afternoon, said: "Brad is himself suffering enormously. One of the things I've said is that it's all too easy to slip into rumor."

(News researchers Brooke Cain, Susan Ebbs and Denise Jones contributed to this report.)

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