LOUISVILLE, KY. — Another search is underway relating to the 2015 disappearance of Crystal Rogers in Bardstown, Kentucky.
FBI agents were searching a farm Monday morning connected to the man Rogers was in a relationship with at the time of her disappearance. He is also the father of Rogers youngest child. The missing mother’s case has gained national attention, with it being featured on HLN’s “Real Life Nightmare” docu-series.
Last year, the FBI tore up a driveway in a subdivision of Bardstown while conducting “several searches” related to the disappearance of Rogers.
Throughout the search, police were allowing only a few cars into the subdivision and reporters were kept out.
Federal agents, with help from Nelson County highway department vehicles, were continuing to zero in on a driveway and truck away pieces of concrete and materials from outside a home.
Crystal Rogers’ mom speaks out:As FBI searches Bardstown subdivision, Sherry Ballard hopes for ‘answers this time’
Here’s what we know about the case:
Who is Crystal Rogers? When did she disappear?
Rogers, a 35-year-old mother of five children, was reported missing on July 3, 2015, from Bardstown.
Her car was found abandoned on the Bluegrass Parkway with her keys, phone and purse still inside. Rogers was not known to go anywhere without her kids, according to the FBI.
Sherry Ballard said her daughter’s children are now 22, 21, 19, 17 and 9.
“Crystal was a very good girl. She was a very good daughter,” Ballard told The Courier Journal. “She was nice to everyone she met. She even let a friend stay with her because (the friend) didn’t have a place to go. That’s the type of person she was.
“We are a very close family, and I’m not doing anything different that any mother would do for their daughter at all,” Ballard added. “… I’m just praying this will bring us some kind of closure.”
“My mom is a very special woman,” one of Rogers’ daughters wrote on a website dedicated to the investigation. “The memory that will forever be in my heart is going to DQ and buying my momma lunch. We would always get the chicken strip basket with the toast and gravy to go with it. Going over to mamaw Martins and playing phase 10 and aggravation over and over while eating snacks. Since my mom’s been missing, life has been really hard. I always wonder what my life would be like if she and my papaw was still here.”
What was the FBI doing in Bardstown?
FBI agents have conducted multiple searches in and near Bardstown since Rogers went missing.
On Monday, a search was being conducted at a farm at 345 Paschal Ballard Lane. The land, which sits on 30 acres, is owned by the mother of Brooks Houck, who was named a suspect in the case in 2017. Houck and Rogers have a son together.
In August 2021, agents searched a subdivision where Houck owns properties. Agents reportedly were using a cadaver dog to search the subdivision and a Courier Journal photographer saw investigators using a jackhammer on the driveway of a home.
The driveway was reportedly dug up, as agents appeared to be zeroed in on the location. Large chunks of the driveway were hauled out of the neighborhood in construction trucks.
“I don’t think they would just randomly pick a driveway unless they had a reason to do that,” Ballard told WHAS. “When my daughter went missing, Brooks was building in that neighborhood.”
On Sept. 7, 2021, the FBI announced that search in Bardstown had ended, with several “items of interest” sent to a lab in Virginia for testing.
During the summer of 2020, the FBI took over from Kentucky State Police and the Nelson County Sheriff’s Office as the lead investigator in the case, with over 150 federal agents serving search warrants in August 2020 at three sites owned by Houck and his family members.
An FBI Louisville spokesman previously said all three locations had already been searched “to various degrees” over the years.
What are the ‘items of interest’ in the Crystal Rogers case?
The FBI has not released more details on the “items of interest” that were sent to the Virginia lab for testing.
FBI spokeswoman Katie Anderson told The Courier Journal in October 2021 the agency had “nothing new to share on the Crystal Rogers investigation.”
“We will definitely send something out when that changes,” Anderson said.
Who pays for the dug-up driveway and property repairs?
The FBI reportedly said the residents of the property that investigators and construction equipment focused on had no connection to the case, and the federal agency said it will pay for any repairs to the property.
How can I watch documentaries about Crystal Rogers?
The mother’s case has spawned documentaries and podcasts and plenty of news coverage.
“Bourbon Town Mystery,” produced by the HLN Investigations team, takes a deep dive into the disappearance of Rogers.
The six episodes in the entire “Real Life Nightmare” series, which focuses on other mysterious cases, will be available on-demand the day after the broadcast premiere via cable/satellite systems.
HLN Investigations is a news team that produces breaking news specials and HLN Original Series within the crime and justice genre. The HLN cable channel is a spinoff of CNN.
Among the other past shows on the missing mother is “The Disappearance of Crystal Rogers,” which premiered in 2018 on Oxygen.
To watch the 2018 series, visit Oxygen’s site.
Where can I find podcasts on the Crystal Rogers case?
Numerous podcasts have focused on the Crystal Rogers case.
Here are a few:
- The Vanishing of Crystal Rogers — Not Another True Crime Podcast (May 2021): “Sara and Danny are back this week to bring us all the details about the disappearance of Crystal Rogers from a small town in Kentucky. They go through her last sightings and all the particulars of the case, including the discovery of her car and the puzzling delay in her being reported missing. Next, they turn to the likeliest suspect in this case, and what the police investigations so far have revealed. They also go into a few recent updates on the case, and what we can expect to find out in the coming months. They end the show with a video game audio round, where they try to name classic video games from years gone by just by their sounds.”
- Bardstown (2019-20): “It’s been two years since Officer Jason Ellis was killed in a deadly ambush and fifteen months since Kathy and Samantha Netherland were found murdered in their home. And another tragedy is about to hit Bardstown.”
- CONSPIRACY: Bardstown, Kentucky — Crime Junkie (February 2018): “A 35-year-old woman named Crystal Rogers went missing from Bardstown, Kentucky back in 2015. Her car was found on the side of a busy parkway with a flat tire, keys, wallet and phone still inside. Just 16 months later, while searching for answers, Crystal’s father is murdered in cold blood. Now, people are wondering if these two crimes are connected to a bigger conspiracy that started with the murder of a police officer in 2013. Could all of these seemingly different attacks be related?”
- Vanished-Crystal Rogers — True Crimecast (October 2018): “Just outside of Louisville, Bardstown, Kentucky, is the epitome of a small town. Everyone knows everyone else’s business, both good and bad. So how is it that Crystal Rogers could disappear without a trace? Is her disappearance linked to other murders in the area around that same time? And what about that boyfriend and his brother? So much conspiracy, so few answers. This is True Crimecast.”
- Crystal Rogers — The mHERder Podcast (January 2020): “Missing Bardstown Mom: Crystal Rogers.”
Have there been any arrests in the Crystal Rogers case?
No arrests have been made in connection with Rogers’ disappearance.
What about suspects? Where is Brooks Houck now?
Rogers was dating Brooks Houck, an initial suspect, who is the father of one of her sons. Houck has denied involvement with Rogers’ disappearance and has never been charged.
Ballard told The Courier Journal she has “a lot of hope” that her family will soon finally learn what happened to her daughter.
“And I do have a lot of hope that this is where the investigation needs to be at and that they may be able to provide me answers this time,” Ballard said.
Regarding the thought of finally finding out what happened to her daughter, Ballard said, “I want it, but it’s going to be so hard for me.”
“I just hope that I can handle that, when they come to me with that news, even though I’ve waited for six years,” she said. “And I need closure. Her kids need closure, but to physically hear it, it’s going to be so hard on us.”
Did the Houck family interfere with the Crystal Rogers investigation?
Houck’s brother, Nick, was a police officer with Bardstown Police at the time of Rogers’ disappearance and was fired after interfering in the investigation.
The mayor of Bardstown said Nick Houck phoned his brother when he knew Brooks was being interviewed by detectives, warning that his brother “should protect himself,” and that investigators “might be trying to trip him up,” the Kentucky Standard reported in 2015.
City officials held an administrative hearing on Nick Houck’s actions and fired him a day later.
In 2019, a home being built by Brooks Houck was burned down in what city officials said was an arson case.
Bardstown Fire Chief Billy Mattingly said the house may have been set on fire by disgruntled employees who worked for Brooks Houck.
What happened to Crystal Rogers’ dad, Tommy Ballard?
More than a year after Rogers disappeared, her father, 54-year-old Tommy Ballard, was fatally shot in November 2016 while hunting on family property in a rural area outside Bardstown.
The Nelson County Coroner’s Office reportedly said he was shot once in the chest, with the bullet entering his chest and exiting his back. He was pronounced dead at the scene on a farm located on Ed Brent Lane.
Ballard’s grandson, who was with him during the trip, was not responsible for Ballard’s death, Kentucky State Police detectives later said.
How is the Crystal Rogers case connected to ambushed police officer Jason Ellis and other open cases?
In 2017, Kentucky State Police hired former troopers to investigate the cases of both Rogers and Jason Ellis, a Bardstown police officer who was ambushed in 2013 and killed by at least two people.
The ex-troopers were also looking into Tommy Ballard’s death and the slaying of teacher Kathy Netherland and her teenage daughter Samantha in 2014. The mother and daughter were found dead in their home on Springfield Road near Bardstown.
On May 25, 2013, Ellis, a husband and father of two young boys, clocked out of his shift at 2 a.m. and started his normal, 15-mile drive home on the Bluegrass Parkway. He took Exit 34, a narrow ramp bounded on either side by steep stone walls. Halfway around the ramp, someone had dragged a pile of branches into the roadway.
More on Jason Ellis:Who killed Bardstown Officer? 5 years later, nobody knows
Ellis stopped, turned on his blue lights and got out of his cruiser to clear them. Someone, perched on top of the stone cliff above him, fired a shotgun. Ellis was hit multiple times and died on the side of the road.
There were no witnesses, and no arrests have been made in connection with the fatal shooting.
The FBI has been offering a reward of up to $50,000 for information leading to arrests in Ellis’ slaying.
Where can I report tips about Crystal Rogers?
If you have information related to the disappearance of Crystal Rogers, you can visit crystalrogerstaskforce.com, call the FBI tip line at 1-800-CALL-FBI, contact your local FBI office or get in touch with the nearest American Embassy or Consulate.
The FBI said it is “offering up to a $25,000 reward for information leading to the identification, arrest and conviction of the individual(s) responsible” for Rogers’ disappearance.
Reach Billy Kobin at firstname.lastname@example.org.