What we know about search for missing Kentucky mom
Crystal Rogers, a Kentucky mother of five children, has been missing for more than six years. The mystery around her disappearance has garnered national attention, but no one has been charged.
Her family has been outspoken about Rogers, hoping to get answers on who’s responsible. Rogers’ father, Tommy Ballard, was trying to gather information on her disappearance when he was shot and killed by an unknown subject in 2016, according to the FBI.
The investigations into Rogers’ disappearance and Ballard’s death have involved several different law enforcement agencies. Her boyfriend at the time was named a suspect early in the case.
The FBI took over the case in 2020 and has since conducted searches at several properties in Bardstown. New searches of a subdivision with ties to Rogers’ former boyfriend started Tuesday and continued Wednesday. The focus Wednesday appeared to be concentrated on the front yard and driveway area of a single property where digging was occurring and canopies had been installed.
Crystal Rogers’ 2015 disappearance
Rogers was reported missing by her mother, Sherry Ballard, on July 5, 2015, according to the FBI. She hadn’t been seen or heard from since July 3, 2015. The day she was reported missing, her Chevrolet Malibu was abandoned on the Bluegrass Parkway with a flat tire. Her keys, phone and purse were inside the car, according to the FBI.
Search efforts have been carried out periodically in the six-plus years since Rogers’ disappearance, but her body has never been found.
Investigators once hoped they’d found Rogers’ remains
Officials hoped they may have had a breakthrough in Rogers’ case in July 2020 when they found possible human remains near the Washington and Nelson county lines. The FBI was called in to help the Nelson County sheriff’s office retrieve the remains and they were examined using the “Combined DNA Index System,” the FBI said.
But the remains weren’t Rogers’, the FBI said. The FBI announced in November that the remains hadn’t been positively identified.
“The FBI and our law enforcement partners understand that many in the community were hopeful that these remains would bring answers to the Crystal Rogers case,” the FBI said in a statement at the time. “This latest development most certainly does not affect the unwavering resolve of the FBI personnel assigned to investigate the disappearance of Crystal Rogers.
“Bringing justice to the community of Bardstown remains a top priority of FBI Louisville.”
Mother’s disappearance became FBI investigation after 5 years
Local authorities had been investigating Rogers’ disappearance up until August 2020. But just a couple of weeks after the human remains were found in Nelson County, the FBI took over. With the assistance of local and state agencies, federal investigators have been leading the case for more than a year.
On the day the FBI officially took the reigns of the investigation, more than 150 law enforcement officers executed search warrants in Bardstown, according to the FBI. In its search, the FBI had targeted several properties owned by or connected to Brooks Houck, who was Rogers’ boyfriend when she disappeared. Houck’s family owns numerous properties in the area. He is also affiliated with rental and development companies that build and rent residences in Bardstown, according to business and property records.
The FBI searched Houck’s home and a farm owned by the Houck family in August 2020. They also searched a home owned by Nick Houck, Brooks’ brother.
No arrests were made at that time, and Houck hasn’t been charged with anything, the FBI said Tuesday.
How boyfriend’s family factors into Crystal Rogers investigation
Brooks Houck was believed to be the last person who saw Rogers before she disappeared in 2015, according to multiple media reports. Less than two months after her disappearance, local authorities searched a farm owned by his family with cadaver dogs, according to WLKY in Louisville.
Houck’s brother, Nick Houck, was fired from the Bardstown Police Department because he allegedly interfered with the investigation when the Nelson County sheriff’s office was handling it, according to officials from the sheriff’s office.
Nick Houck was served with a search warrant in connection to the case in 2016.
Death of Crystal Rogers’ father is a ‘related case’
The FBI is also investigating Tommy Ballard’s death. Tommy Ballard was shot and killed while hunting with his young grandson on Nov. 19, 2016, according to the FBI. He had been trying to get answers regarding his daughter’s disappearance and created Team Crystal, a group of community members dedicated to finding his daughter, according to the FBI.
Ballard’s death is considered a homicide and the FBI is offering $10,000 for “information leading to the identification, arrest and conviction of those responsible.
Sherry Ballard, who was Tommy Ballard’s wife and Rogers’ mother, said she feels “like when they break my daughter’s case, my husband’s is automatically going to follow right after that.”
What feds have said about latest searches in Bardstown
The FBI began new searches for evidence ins Rogers’ case on Tuesday. FBI officials haven’t disclosed whose homes or properties in the Woodlawn Springs subdivision they were searching or specific details about what they hope to find. But their efforts Wednesday were directed primarily at one property on North Howard Street where digging was occurring.
A truck carrying dirt and pieces of concrete left from a property along North Howard.
Houck’s rental and development companies built more than a dozen of the homes in the Woodlawn Springs subdivision, according to property records. However, the FBI couldn’t confirm or deny if those homes were the focus this week.
Sherry Ballard said those homes were being built around the same time Rogers disappeared.
“We are looking for any evidence that can provide clarity on what happened to Crystal,” FBI spokesman Timothy Beam said Tuesday. Beam later said that agents “will be there as long as it takes.”
Beam also said the individuals whose properties were being searched this week were not suspects in the case.
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