One of the biggest contributing factors in wrongful convictions is police tunnel vision. This occurs when police narrow in on a suspect from the very beginning and then fail to consider other possibilities, suspects or scenarios. They ignore evidence that points away from their suspect and they aim to shape or even manufacture evidence that supports their theory. There is no doubt in my mind that this happened in this case and one person – Jessica Adam shaped the investigation from the very beginning. Police never considered that what she was telling them may not be truthful, but we learned throughout the trial that she was untruthful about all of the state’s key evidence.
Even knowing that everything was based on lies, the State still began their opening arguments with Jessica’s story, her story about Nancy’s plans to paint her house that day. We would learn throughout the trial from several witnesses that the story wasn’t supported by anyone and it didn’t make sense. The reason this is significant is because Jessica made the initial call to police to tell them that Nancy was missing. It appears that she made up a story that Nancy was expected at her house that morning to help her paint. However, the plans conflicted with Brad’s plans to play tennis with a friend that morning. This was supported by a witness, Mike Hiller who made the plans with Brad the night before. He actually borrowed Nancy’s cell phone (Nancy dialed) at the party to call Brad and make the plans, after asking Nancy if it was okay with her that they play tennis the next day.
I’m sure that as time went on in the investigation, police began to notice that Jessica’s information wasn’t accurate, but they never stopped and considered that maybe they had it wrong. Maybe they felt that they were in too deep by then. Maybe they had even gone so far as to manipulate the computer evidence, thus framing Brad for the murder. If that were true, it would be too late to backtrack and consider other suspects or follow new leads. So they forged ahead. But those of us who watched the trial saw how piece by piece Jessica’s story and all of her helpful “assistance” and all of her tips completely fell apart. Police let a lying witness guide the entire investigation from the beginning and prosecutors attempted to present these lies to the jury. I saw right through it and many others did too. Here’s a summary of the allegations that didn’t hold up at trial.
Jessica Adam placed the call to police to report Nancy missing. After that she raced to the Cooper home and stood outside yelling to all the neighbors that Brad must have done something. The day Nancy disappeared and over the course of the next several days, she told police several things that later turned out to be false. It’s important to mention her impact on this case because much of what she told them was likely used by police to get an indictment since they were classified as “inconsistencies”. The following is a list of items she provided to the police that later turned out to be false. The police never doubted any of her claims.
1) All Detergent – False
The Harris Teeter videos and receipts were obtained by police on July 12th and they showed that earlier that morning, Brad had purchased Tide laundry detergent, green juice and milk. When asked about the brand of detergent used, Jessica told police that the Coopers used All detergent. She also testified to that. During her testimony, the defense attorney asked her to review the BJ’s store records for detergent purchases and they showed that the Coopers had purchased 30 bottles of Tide, only one bottle of All. The All vs Tide was an inconsistency noted by Detective Daniels, the lead detective in this case.
When Jessica reported Nancy missing, she told police that Nancy was expected at her house by 9AM to paint. Jessica later told police that the painting plans were arranged by phone on Friday, 7/11. When police obtained her phone records, no record of that call existed. She then changed her story. This time she said that she was at the Cooper’s home on Friday when the plans were made. It is my opinion, based on the following and including the changed statement about how and when the plans were made, that it’s unlikely there ever were painting plans scheduled for that morning.
- Nancy didn’t tell anyone at the party on Friday that she had plans to paint the following morning.
- Nancy told 3 people at the party she planned to jog the following morning.
- Nancy had recently told several friends and her sister that she was tired of painting.
- According to Jessica, the painting was to be a swap – Jessica would help Nancy organize the house and in return Nancy would help paint her dining room. Nancy wasn’t even going to profit from this work.
- No additional paint was purchased for the dining room.
- Nancy was aware that Brad had tennis plans with a friend that morning at 9:30 and she would have to watch the kids.
- Jessica didn’t have it written on her calendar, but she did have activities planned with her kids late that morning.
If there were no painting plans scheduled for Saturday, it’s a bit puzzling why Jessica was so hysterical on Saturday morning and pointing the finger at Brad while Nancy was still missing. The police really needed to investigate this, but they were too busy buying into everything she fed them. With three people testifying that Nancy had plans to jog the next morning, and then 16 people contacting them to report that they believed they saw Nancy jogging that morning, why were they so quick to dismiss that Brad said she went jogging that morning and instead chose to believe the “painting plan” story, even though there were a lot of holes in it? That is exactly what they did though.
The police took photos of the Cooper home on Saturday, July 12th and later showed them to Jessica since she was “there on Friday” to see if she noticed anything different. She said there were decorative ducks and sticks missing from the foyer area. The Cary police ran with this and even testified that this was “evidence of a struggle”. During the trial, it was revealed that the ducks were in a box in the Cooper’s living room all along. The police never bothered to even search for the ducks and sticks. They just took Jessica’s word for it and made it part of their “evidence”.
Jessica signed a sworn statement that Nancy never removed her necklace. She even included information that she saw Nancy before the party and that she was wearing the necklace, yet she couldn’t remember what she was wearing. The significance of the necklace is that Nancy wasn’t wearing it when she was found but all of the “friends” stated that she never took it off so this implied that the killer must have removed it. The necklace was found by police in a jewelry box in the Cooper home shortly after Brad was arrested. During the trial the investigator working for the Defense testified about a video that showed Nancy the day before she disappeared and she was not wearing the necklace. Clearly it was a myth of the trial that she “never took it off”.
5) Nancy wouldn’t schedule a run without telling her. – False
Jessica wrote in her affidavit that Nancy wouldn’t have scheduled a run with Carey Clark without including her. For starters, Jessica had never even met Carey at that point. She stated in her affidavit, “we discussed any/all runs we did or intended to make.” During the trial witnesses testified that Nancy ran alone and also ran with other people that Jessica was unaware of.
6) Bella didn’t drink Green juice – False
7) Nancy always ran with her keys and cell phone – False
8) Jessica coordinated and met with others about the affidavits to make sure that everyone had their stories straight. If you read the affidavits, they all tell the same story and much of it was refuted in Brad’s rebuttal affidavits.
1) Necklace – Hannah sent an email to Jennifer Fetteroff requesting photos of Nancy between October ’07 and July ’08 and specifically requested only photos of Nancy wearing the necklace. Detective Dismukes was copied on the email so obviously the Cary police were aware of this.
We know that a video was found of Nancy NOT wearing the necklace the Friday afternoon before she disappeared. Hannah testified that Nancy was wearing the necklace at the pool that morning, clearly she was not since the video shows Nancy at the store shortly after leaving the pool.
“Nancy never removed the necklace” – False
2) Screw-back earrings – False
Hannah made it a point to update her affidavit because she needed to include the fact that Nancy’s diamond earrings were screw-back. To her, this would explain why Nancy was found wearing the diamond earrings but not the necklace. I think Hannah theorized that it would have been too time consuming for the killer to remove the earrings, while the necklace would be easy to remove. The problem is, the earrings were not screw back.
3) Hannah called the Cooper home on Saturday morning wanting to speak to Nancy. Hannah told police that she was aware of Nancy’s painting plans with Jessica that morning. If this is true, why did she call the house? Why didn’t she try to reach Nancy on her cell phone?
Ricardo Lopez –
Mr. Lopez told police in a recorded interview that while at the Duncan’s party on Friday, Nancy told him that she had plans to jog the following morning. He described vivid details of the conversation he had with her. Detective Dismukes kept asking him if he was certain and he responded “yes”. At the end of the interview, the detective told Mr. Lopez that he would need to speak with Donna (Lopez’s wife) to make sure they had all the fact straight. The next morning Mr. Lopez called the police and asked if he could come in and change his story for the record. In a second recorded interview he stated that he wasn’t actually sure that Nancy told him she had planned to jog in the morning. He also stated that he didn’t want to jeopardize the investigation. Both recorded interviews can be found here.
These lies were likely presented to the grand jury and used to indict Brad Cooper. If Cary police detectives were competent, they would have realized that all of it was lies and they would have put effort into finding out what really happened to Nancy Cooper instead of buying into the “Brad did it” lies.
Attached is the video of Ricardo Lopez’s testimony that includes both police recorded interviews.