Crime

Woman's body found near Cary

A man walking his dog Monday night found a body in an undeveloped area that police think may be that of missing Cary jogger, Nancy Cooper.

Wake County Sheriff Donnie Harrison said the man discovered the body about 7:30 p.m. near an undeveloped cul de sac in The Oaks at Meadowridge off Holly Springs Road. The only houses near the area where the body was found were under construction or still unoccupied.

Investigators did not confirm that it is Cooper, but police think it could be because of the proximity to where she was last seen in Cary's Lochmere neighborhood, according to Cary Police Chief Pat Bazemore.

An autopsy will be performed this morning to try to confirm the identity, Harrison said.

Cooper's husband, Brad Cooper, told investigators he last saw his wife when she left home at 7 a.m. Saturday for a jog. Nancy Cooper, 34, was reported missing at 2:51 p.m. Saturday by a friend, Jessica Adam, Bazemore said at a news conference Monday afternoon.

About 100 volunteer searchers, along with 32 police officers who have been working around the clock, searched the trails around Lake Wheeler and Lake Johnson on Monday, Bazemore said. During the weekend, the search focused on trails and woods in and near the Regency and Lochmere neighborhoods of Cary. The Coopers live in Lochmere with their two daughters, ages 4 and almost 2.

Adam said that Cooper was supposed to join her Saturday morning at Adam's house to help paint her dining room. The friends had a deal: Cooper was going to help paint; then Adam was going to help Cooper organize her house. Both were runners, training for the Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon on Aug. 31 in Virginia Beach, Va.

When Cooper didn't show up, Adam called Brad Cooper. She said he told her that his wife had gone for a run with a friend, but he wasn't sure which friend. Adam said he later called to say he thought the friend was someone named Carrie and wanted to know whether Adam knew how to contact Carrie.

An uneasy feeling

Adam knew someone by that name but said she didn't know the woman's last name and did not have her phone number. Cooper said he was going to continue looking for Carrie's phone number and hung up, Adam said. Adam said she felt that something had gone wrong and called police.

Cary police said Monday that Brad Cooper was cooperating, answering questions and allowing them to search his house and cars. About 3:45 p.m. Monday, police searched the couple's BMW sedan and BMW SUV. They also removed a Louis Vuitton purse from one vehicle.

Brad Cooper said Monday in an interview in the driveway of the couple's Wallsburg Court home that the couple was having marital problems, but not to the point he felt his wife would leave him and their two children. Adam said the two children stayed at her house Monday.

Cooper works at Cisco Systems while Nancy Cooper stayed at home with their children.

Nancy Cooper's parents, Donna and Garry Rentz of Edmonton, Alberta, and her identical twin sister, Khrista Lister, of Toronto arrived Monday morning.

Family 'overwhelmed'

Garry Rentz said the family was "overwhelmed" by the support of Cary residents. Bazemore said the degree of community interest and involvement in the search was unprecedented.

Nancy Cooper had attended a party with friends Friday night at neighbor Diana Duncan's home. Duncan described the event as a cocktail party, but "very casual, sort of a normal Friday-night summer thing." She said Nancy Cooper looked tired and said she had not been feeling well.

(Staff writer Sam LaGrone contributed to this report.)

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