Blog dedicated primarily to randomly selected news items; comments reflecting personal perceptions

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Internet Family History

"[9-1-1]: I don't know what I should do. Her husband and her are living together but they are in the middle of a divorce. And he is, um ... "
Jessica Adam, friend of Nancy Cooper, Cary, North Carolina

"Brad Cooper is a very private man. He is not accustomed to the hot glare of the media spotlight. He never dreamed that he would see his face splashed across television news shows, nor his name in headlines, especially not under these terrible circumstances."
".... Different people grieve in different ways. Mr. Cooper wishes to mourn privately."
Seth Bloom, lawyer for Brad Cooper

"That was kind of like, enough is enough. Let's charge him."
"He likes computers and phones and he likes to ride his bicycle. Maybe he'll find a place in the world where he can do that and nobody will know his name."
U.S. assistant district attorney Howard Cummings

Hers was the effervescent personality, she was the extrovert. He was a quiet, reserved man. She thought she was ready for that kind of quiet reserve. It spelled out to her imagination stability, a good marriage, a nice home, and children. She wanted children. Nancy Lynn Rentz was a fun-loving young woman, ambitious and interested in doing things with her furure in mind. All the men she had dated were the popular outgoing type. And nothing had quite clicked.

And then she met Bradley Graham Cooper, the same age as herself, working for IBM in Calgary, just like her. So he was the quiet type, a calmly ambitious type with aspirations of his own. Everything was just right; the big shiny engagement ring, a traditional wedding in the planning stages. But then came a job offer for him from Cisco, and since Nancy planned on moving with her love to Cary, N.C. where he would relocate, they married extemporaneously.

She was appreciative of sports. And he was athletic and intelligent. So their personalities on one level weren't all that remote from one another. Her parents liked him. Everything seemed to work out very nicely. And off they went together to start their new life. The town they lived in was beyond pleasant, a friendly place where neighbours took pains to get to know one another and share weekend backyard barbecues and where children ran about happily.

She couldn't work legally without a visa in the United States. And he said he would look after the paperwork for her so she would be able to find employment, if that's what she wanted, to complement her entrepreneurial spirit. Without being able to keep busy she was bored and not the happy housewife she had thought she would be. She would much have preferred to return to Edmonton.

Then Nancy made some friends, got a car and earned a little money of her own as a nanny. Bella, the first little girl they would have came along in 2004 and two years later Katie was born. Then, two years on it all began to fall apart. Nancy became aware her husband let his wandering eye get the better of him A lawyer informed her if she chose to leave the house she could lose whatever she had, including possibly custody of their daughters.

Nancy's family was aware she was struggling, and the marriage wasn't prospering, and they hoped for the best. She had tried to accommodate her situation; one of her sisters had admonished her: "You decided to marry him, this is your husband. You should try to make it work." No doubt she did; it was humiliating the extent of his firm control over everything she did expressed in financial control. Where he allowed her to have a small amount of fuel in her car so she couldn't get too far.

Brad Cooper (pictured in court today) said 'yes' when a judge asked him if he had killed mother-of-two Nancy (pictured above with two daughters Katie and Bella, and tried to hide her body in Cary, North Carolina

He hadn't, after all, applied for a work visa for her. Was abstemious in allotting her grocery money. She took to sleeping with her daughters, locking the bedroom door, car keys handy. As she parted with her parents after sharing a beach vacation in South Carolina with them in June 2008, the wan, unhappy mother of their two little grandchildren told her mother: "Mom, I just want to go home".

Mere days later on July 11, 2008, the Cooper family attended a backyard party in their neighbourhood. A day later Brad Cooper reported his wife missing. Two days after this a man walking his dog in the vicinity of an undeveloped subdivision, encountered a body floating in stormwater, outside the town of Cary, about five kilometres from the Cooper home.

Suspicion turned to Nancy Cooper's husband. His lawyers held a press conference to address the "wild speculation" raging over the case. And to explain Brad Cooper's choice not to be present at memorials and press conferences, related to his wife's puzzling death. Two months after her death he was again interrogated and again swore he knew nothing other than what came to him on the news.

But investigators were in possession of forensic computer evidence that he had conducted a Google Maps search of the area where the close-by emerging subdivision was located the day before his wife met her mysterious death. He had zoomed in on the very place where her body had been discovered. Quite the coincidence, that. The ensuing trial heard of a calculated and cruel, planned murder.

That directly after leaving the neighbourhood backyard party early in the evening, Brad Cooper had placed their two young daughters in a room to isolate them and then proceeded to choke his wife, the pressure being applied so robust that bones were broken in the process of strangulation. The jury verdict was unanimous: Guilty of first degree murder, warranting life in prison.

But there was an appeal. And there was a theory popularly upheld that he was innocent of the charges levied against him. With the appeal of the murder conviction, a new trial was granted. Brad Cooper decided instead of undergoing another trial to opt for a plea deal. He pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and the sentencing then handed down was 12 to 15 years in prison, and the surrender of his children to his wife's sister's care.

"When we started this process years ago, one of the first things I said was that I would wish the person who was responsible for this crime would come forward and acknowledge their guilt and own up to their behaviour. That's what happened today", Garry Rentz, Nancy's father said last month after the hearing.

There can be no closure, no satisfaction, no explanations that might alleviate the burden of loss. There was no apology, no reasons given, and the dreadful result of two people living together out of harmony with one another, with two little children dependent on parents to care for one another and for them, ending up with the children effectively orphaned one dreadful summer night, is a reality everyone must now live with.

Knowing that with time already served taken into account, Brad Cooper will inhabit a prison cell for eight more years and then face deportation back to Canada. Where one of his sisters-in-law is raising his little girls, now aged ten and eight and able to find their mother's and their father's names on the Internet if and when they Google them.

The pair (pictured with their two daughters) married in 2001 but their relationship deteriorated when Cooper was having an affair and Nancy said she wanted to go back to her native Canada 
The pair (pictured with their two daughters) married in 2001 but their relationship deteriorated when Cooper was having an affair and Nancy said she wanted to go back to her native Canada 

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