The parents of an Edmonton woman who was slain in the United States have won temporary custody of her children, after filing a court document alleging her husband "emotionally abused" his family.

Edmonton residents Donna and Garry Rentz filed an emergency order to secure temporary and full custody of Nancy Cooper's two children -- Bella, 4, and Katie, 2.

Cooper, a 34-year-old mother of two, was found dead three days ago after she went missing from her home in Cary -- an upscale bedroom community of Raleigh, North Carolina.

Cooper grew up in Edmonton and moved to the U.S. eight years ago after her husband, Brad Cooper, was hired with Cisco Systems.

Brad Cooper told police she went jogging early Saturday and never returned. Her body was discovered less than five kilometers from her home, in an undeveloped subdivision.

The Rentz family currently has temporary custody of the children. A court date has been set for July 25 where a judge will decide whether to grant the grandparents permanent custody.

The petition claims Brad Cooper is unstable and under "intense scrutiny... as a result of the ongoing criminal investigation of Nancy Cooper's murder." Speaking to local media Thursday, relatives of Nancy Cooper said they are still struggling to cope with the loss of a daughter, mother and friend.

"Nancy took very naturally to motherhood," her father said. "I know no one who's more dedicated to their children or their needs."

Cooper's twin sister, Krista Lister, fought to maintain her composure as she spoke to reporters.

"I have a bond with Nancy that no one in the world has," she said. "All I have to do to remember her is to look in the mirror. I will continue to talk to her every morning as I always have.

"She's my biggest supporter and she's my biggest fan. She's my best friend and my soulmate. She's my sister, she's my everything. She will always be half of me."

Cooper's brother, Jeff Rentz, remembered his sister as an outgoing, friendly person, a devoted mother and an athlete who excelled in every sport she tried. Rentz, who works as a police officer in Edmonton, said he's satisfied with the way the investigation is going. He dismissed reports suggesting that Cooper may have been the victim of a serial killer.

"As far as I know, at this time, police believe it's an isolated incident," Rentz told CTV Newsnet in a phone interview from Cary. "I'm inclined to agree with them. They've done an excellent job, they have a pretty good handle on things here, and I'm inclined to believe what they have to say."

According to court documents, the family alleges:

  • Brad Cooper attempted suicide as a teenager and threatened suicide in winter 2008
  • Nancy Cooper never went jogging on July 12
  • In the months prior to murder, Brad Cooper emotionally abused Nancy and the children
  • Brad Cooper "yelled" and "belittled" Nancy in the presence of her children
  • Brad Cooper withheld money from Nancy
  • Nancy was forced to borrow money from her family to buy groceries and necessities for her and the kids
  • Brad Cooper carried on a sexual relationship with another woman

None of the allegations have been proven in court.

Cary police chief Pat Bazemore said their homicide investigation has nothing to do with the civil custody of the children.

"Late yesterday, custody of Nancy and Brad's two children Bella and Katie was officially transferred to Garry, Donna and Krista," she said. "I want to stress that this custody issue is a private civil matter."

Throughout the homicide investigation, Cary police have remained steadfast in saying Brad Cooper has fully co-operated with police.

Investigators have still not named any persons of interest or suspects.

On Wednesday, police removed six bags of evidence from the Cooper family home after receiving an early-morning warrant from local officials to search their house and vehicles.