Dead Jogger's Family Gets Custody of Kids

The parents and sister of Nancy Cooper, the married mother of two who was found dead Monday, won custody of the Cooper's two young children after alleging that her husband, Brad Cooper, was abusive toward his wife and kids before she was killed, according to a custody petition obtained by

According to the petition filed in Wake County, N.C., Wednesday by Cooper's mother and father, Garry and Donna Rentz, and her identical twin sister, Krista Lister, Brad Cooper would routinely deny his wife money needed for grocery shopping and was unfaithful to her in the months leading up to her murder.

Brad Cooper "engaged in a pattern of emotional abuse," "frequently yelled at Nancy Cooper and belittled her in the presence of the minor children," and was unfaithful to her in the months leading up to her death, according to the petition.

When her husband would allegedly withhold financial support from Cooper, the mother would become so desperate for cash that she was forced to borrow money from family members, according to the petition.

Cooper's family also claims that Brad Cooper is "mentally unstable" and tried to commit suicide in the winter of 2008.

Brad Cooper has not been named a suspect or a person of interest in his wife's murder, police said.

In a press conference today, Cary, N.C., police announced that Cooper's family had succeeded in retaining custody of the children after filing an emergency custody petition.

"Late yesterday custody of Nancy and Brad's two children, Isabella and Gabriella, was officially transferred to [Nancy's family]," said Bazemore.

"This custody issue is a private civil matter,"said Bazemore, who declined to take any questions from reporters, citing an agreement with the district attorney's office. "It was not initiated by the town of Cary and was not a part of the investigation into Nancy's murder."

Despite investigators' combing of the Cooper's home, authorities have still not made any arrests in connection with the homicide.

"We have still not named a suspect or a person of interest," Bazemore said. "Everyone in this case is still cooperating."

Brad Cooper, Nancy's husband, was not present at the press conference, but his attorney released a statement on his behalf saying that Brad is devastated by his wife's death and that he'll continue to cooperate with law enforcement to bring his wife's killer or killers to justice.

On Wednesday, authorities investigating the Cooper murder obtained a search warrant for Cooper's home as well as permission to take forensic evidence from Brad Cooper.

Nancy's husband has since submitted saliva and DNA samples to authorities, according to local reports.

Investigators said they believe that Cooper's murder Saturday was neither an "isolated incident" nor a "random act of violence."

Police have not revealed how she died.

The search warrant allowed investigators to do a much more thorough search of the couple's upscale property.

Cooper, 34, was last seen by her husband at 7 a.m. Saturday morning before going for a jog, police said, and was also spotted by friends the night before at a neighborhood dinner party.

But when a friend who had planned to meet Cooper later on Saturday became concerned when the stay-at-home mother of two failed to show up, she alerted police.

"Her friend Jessica Adams called 911 Saturday at 2:51 p.m.," said Deanna Boone, interim deputy public information officer for the town of Cary who said she did not know why Cooper's husband was not the one to report her missing.

After more than two days of searching, a local man walking his dog reported seeing a body on the banks of a storm water retention pond within miles of Cooper's home.

Late Tuesday evening, authorities confirmed that the body was in fact that of Nancy Cooper, and declared the case a homicide investigation. could not reach Brad Cooper, who works at the networking company Cisco Systems, but he spoke to a reporter from North Carolina's News & Observer Tuesday before his wife's body was found.

Admitting that he and his wife were having "marital problems," the husband told the paper that he didn't believe the situation to be so bad that his wife would leave him.

Authorities declined to comment on local reports that a surveillance video exists in which Brad Cooper is allegedly shown purchasing bleach the night before Cooper's disappearance.

"We cannot confirm or deny whether he was at the store and whether he did purchase bleach or any kind of cleaning products the morning of her disappearance," said Bazemore.