Judge Denies Request to Unseal Search Warrants in Nancy Cooper Murder Case

A Superior Court judge denied the request by two media outlets that search warrants be unsealed in the murder case of North Carolina jogger and mother of two Nancy Cooper.

Lawyers for Capitol Broadcasting Co., the parent company of FOX affiliate WRAL News in Raleigh, N.C., and The News & Observer Publishing Co. argued before Superior Court Judge Donald W. Stephens why they want the warrants made public.

The outlets requested the hearing earlier this week.

Stephens said in his order called the release of the information premature and would "likely risk and jeopardize the success of the investigation," WRAL reported.

Wake County District Attorney Colon Willoughby was fighting against the motion on the grounds that it "could, and most likely would, impede the ability of officials to professionally conduct the investigation and properly prosecute any offender against whom charges were warrant," according to WRAL.

Nancy Cooper, 34, was killed earlier this month, her scantily clad body found in a cul-de-sac near her Cary, N.C., home. She disappeared on July 12, when her husband said she'd gone jogging. Her body was found by a man walking his dog two days later.

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Police typically elaborate on why they want to comb a certain location in a search warrant and sometimes describe what they think might have befallen the victim.

Authorities executed such warrants for the house and two vehicles belonging to Nancy Cooper and her 34-year-old husband, Brad Cooper. They also took DNA samples from Brad Cooper.

Police have not named a suspect or person of interest in the young woman's killing. She and Brad Cooper had reportedly been on the brink of separation.

Three warrants are at issue: the July 16 search of the Coopers' house and vehicles along with the DNA sample taken from Brad Cooper, the July 21 search of Brad Cooper's office at Cisco Systems Inc. in the Research Triangle Park campus, and a July 25 search of an unspecified location, WRAL reported.

The warrants will be unsealed 30 days from the date they were returned — or about mid- to late-August — should Stephens side with the media outlets, according to the TV station. But prosecutors will have the option to request that they be sealed for another 30 days.

Last week, Nancy Cooper's Canadian parents and twin sister reached an agreement with her husband allowing them to keep custody of the couple's two children for 75 days, until Oct. 13, when the custody arrangement will again be considered.

The deal came just before a District Court judge was to hear testimony in the bitter custody battle over 4-year-old Bella and 2-year-old Katie.

Brad Cooper and Nancy's parents agreed to place Web cameras inside their houses and promised not to discuss the murder or insult each other in front of the girls.

Lawyers for Brad Cooper accused Nancy Cooper of having an extramarital affair and her family of implicating him in her murder. They asked that the autopsy findings be released.

Nancy Cooper's family attorney filed several affidavits late Wednesday containing statements from friends and neighbors claiming Brad Cooper was emotionally abusive, controlling, absent and socially awkward.

They also accused him of having several extramarital affairs.

Police have indicated they believe the crime was isolated. They say Brad Cooper has been cooperative in the investigation.

Click here for more on this story from WRAL.com.