A day after mourning the loss of Edmonton native Nancy Cooper, her family is returning to North Carolina on Thursday morning, prepared for a nasty custody battle with the slain woman's husband.
The 34-year-old mother of two was found dead last week near her home in Cary, N.C., after failing to return from an early-morning jog on July 12.
Cary police are investigating her death as homicide.
Brad Cooper filed an affadavit with the Wake County District Court on Wednesday — the same day a memorial service was held for his late wife in Edmonton — to support his request that his two young daughters be returned to him. He did not attend the service.
A judge will begin hearing the case Friday.
Last week, a judge granted temporary emergency custody of four-year-old Bella and two-year-old Katie to Nancy Cooper’s parents, Garry and Donna Rentz, and her twin sister, Krista Lister.
Family makes allegations to get girls
In their successful petition to get the girls, the family alleged Brad Cooper had been having an affair, and yelling at and belittling his wife in front of the children in the months leading up to her disappearance.
They also alleged he withheld money from Nancy, a stay-at-home mother with no other source of income, forcing her to borrow money from her family to buy groceries for the children.
In a 13-page affidavit, Brad Cooper denied those allegations, and attacks his late wife and her family. He admitted his marriage was in trouble, and that his wife had separation papers drawn up in April.
But, he alleges in the affidavit, his wife was prepared to give him joint custody of their daughters.
Brad Cooper said he loved his wife and still wanted to make the marriage work, but her credit card spending was out of control. He also claimed that Nancy Cooper was going out with her friends almost every night, not coming home sometimes until 2 a.m.
Also in his affidavit, Brad Cooper denies he ever emotionally or physically abused his wife. He also denies he has emotional problems, or that he ever threatened or tried to commit suicide.
Brad Cooper attacks his in-laws for "holding press conferences to talk about Bella and Katie, and describes their personalities to millions of strangers."
Cooper alleges his daughters were terrified when police took them away from him, and that the oldest girl had to be pried away screaming and crying.
The 34-year-old systems engineer says his in-laws have "wrenched Bella and Katie from the only stable, familiar caregiver and environment they know."
'I'll be tough, a lot of emotions'
Jeff Rentz, Nancy Cooper's brother, said he has mixed emotions about going back to the United States.
"It’ll be tough, a lot of emotions," Rentz said. "We were welcomed there like family, too. Her friends welcomed us into their hearts and their homes. We felt right at home. We were treated like family.
"But there are some difficult times ahead. We certainly know what’s coming."