Mother of five, Crystal Rogers has been missing from Bardstown, KY since July 3, 2015.
Her family tried to contact Crystal for two days via text and calling but they were not able to reach her. It did not take them long to become worried.
Crystal’s maroon 2007 four-door Chevrolet was found abandoned soon after she disappeared. Some reports say it was found on July 4, and others say July 5. It was found with a flat tyre near mile marker 14 on the Bluegrass parkway. The keys were in the ignition and her personal belongings (keys, cellphone and purse) were found inside and scattered around the vehicle.
Police began their investigation after the vehicle was found.
Around July 5 or 6 (again, this varies depending on which article you read), police held a press conference about the case.
Officials said Brooks Houck, Crystal’s boyfriend, was the last person to see her alive when they were at his family farm the night of July 3. Sheriff Ed Mattingly said at that time that Houck was fully cooperating with the investigation. Crystal’s family also announced a $25,000 reward for information leading to her.
Crystal’s mother Sherry Ballard said at the time – “We love her and we’re trying to find her and we just want her to come home.”
The Bardstown community started up a big search for Crystal. “We’ve searched the rivers, we’ve searched farms, houses, sinkholes, wells, any place she might be,” family member Sammy Johnson said.
Brooks Houck never participated in these searches for Crystal.
Brooks was questioned early on by Nelson County Sheriff’s Office Lead Detective Jon Snow. In the interview, Houck said that Rogers, their 2-year-old son Eli and himself left the family farm around midnight the night of July 3. He said when they got home, he went straight to bed, and Rogers stayed up playing games on her phone. He told Snow that when he woke up on the morning of July 4, Rogers wasn’t there.
The following info comes from wrdb.com:
In the middle of the interview, Brook’s phone rang. When he answered it, it was his brother, Nick Houck, telling him not to talk to investigators. At the time of that call, Nick Houck himself was an officer with the Bardstown Police Department.
On July 9, Brooks did an interview with Nancy Grace.
Brooks admitted he and Crystal had a “stressed relationship” at times, but he emphatically denied having anything to do with her disappearance. “I’m 100 percent, completely innocent in this,” he said.
“My whole family’s name is trashed for something completely not even tied to me. […] It’s taking a lot of energy and effort. […] I can’t even go on the side of the road without looking like a murderer. This is starting to get silly. I don’t need an attorney. I’m innocent. This, to me, is starting to get silly.”
A few days later on July 15, Brooke Ballard, Crystal’s sister, spoke to WHAS11 saying boyfriend Brooks Houck’s story “doesn’t add up”. She said Brooks has been uncooperative with the investigation.
August 2015 and Crystal is still missing. Searches have still been undertaken – the Louisville Metro Police searched several waterways to no avail.
The Bardstown people continued their attempts to help. They held vigils and fundraisers and raised tens of thousands of dollars for rewards and to assist Crystal’s children.
“He made eye contact with me. I made eye contact with him,” Tommy Ballard said after the court hearing. “I just want to see my grandson. I’m not worried about nobody but my grandson and my daughter.”
This was a fight that would be drawn out for years. In October, they were still waiting for a judge to decide their case and Sherry spoke to the media “Today is Eli’s birthday; his third birthday,”
The Ballards are currently caring for Crystal’s four other children full-time. Sherry said they have not seen Eli since Crystal vanished on July 3.
“They haven’t seen their brother. There is no sibling rights so they can’t do anything about not seeing their brother. They haven’t seen him for three months. They lost a mother. They lost a brother too; the kids are having a real hard time with that. I just can’t understand why we haven’t got to see that baby yet.”
On October 16, 2015, Brooks’ brother Nick Houck was fired from the Bardstown Police Department for allegedly “interfering with the investigation” of Crystal Rogers’ disappearance, according to NBC affiliate WLEX. Nick was accused of warning his brother that detectives planned to interview him and advised him not to speak with them. Nick later told the Kentucky State Police that he only contacted his brother to tell him that “they might be trying to trip him up” and “he should protect himself.” Nick then failed a polygraph test conducted by an examiner from the FBI when questioned about the case. When confronted with the results, Nick denied that he was lying, saying, “I don’t give a goddam what your fcking computer said… You’re calling me a fcking liar [and] I don’t like it when people call me a liar.”
Police officers held another press conference in October and they stated that they believed Crystal was deceased:
“She has vanished from Earth, and I think it’s safe to say she’s dead,” Sheriff Ed Mattingly announced at a news conference.
The Nelson County Sheriff’s Office announced that Brooks Houck was the main suspect in Crystal’s disappearance.
“I have eight pages of circumstances that lead me to look in their direction,” Mattingly said.
There is a great post on reddit about Crystal’s case and this information comes from there:
In December 2015, Louisville’s WDRB reported the arrest of Danny Singleton on 38 counts of false swearing after he allegedly lied under oath to a grand jury in relation to the investigation of Crystal Rogers’ disappearance. According to NBC News , Singleton is a close friend and longtime employee of Brooks Houck. Singleton later pleaded guilty and was released from jail after being in custody for six months.
Moving into 2016, things slowed down in Crystal’s case but there were some interesting things that happened.
Investigators had conducted numerous searches on Houck family property, including the home of Anna Whitesides, the grandmother of Brooks Houck. In June, Whitesides was served with a subpoena to testify before a Nelson County Grand Jury, but she invoked her Fifth Amendment right not to talk.
Investigators had wanted to ask her about a white car of hers they believed was connected to Rogers’ disappearance. Whitesides’ lawyer said, “There are lots of things, particularly in a high-profile case, where there is as frenzied an investigation as there is here that could ensnare an 82-year-old woman.” Anna’s home was searched again in August 2016.
The Houck Family Farm was also searched in August 2016 – The Nelson County Sheriff’s Office, Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, FBI and Louisville Metro Police Department searched 300 acres with at least 14 cadaver dogs.
In November 2016, 16 months after Crystal disappeared, tragedy struck her family again.
Her father Tommy Ballard was shot in the chest and killed. He had been just about to go hunting with one of his grandsons – Crystal’s son.
Tommy’s murder is still unsolved to this day and the FBI are involved in his death:
After his daughter, Crystal Rogers, disappeared in July 2015, Tommy Ballard created Team Crystal, a group of Bardstown, Kentucky, community members dedicated to finding Crystal and bringing her home.
On the morning of November 19, 2016, sixteen months after Crystal’s disappearance, Ballard was preparing for a hunting trip with his 12-year-old grandson on family property next to Bluegrass Parkway in Bardstown, Kentucky. An unknown subject fired one shot and hit Ballard in the chest and instantly killed him.
“When that happened to my husband,” wife Sherry Ballard told WDRB, “it was no accident.” Sherry believes Tommy was getting close to finding out what happened to Rogers before he was killed. She also said that Tommy believed he was being followed in the days before his death.
As an aside, and perhaps strangely for such a small town (13,094 in 2019), there are other unsolved murders in Bardstown.
In May 2013, Officer Jason Ellis was ambushed on his way home from work, and shot multiple times. The motive and the person behind his murder remain a mystery to this day. Nearly a year later, in April 2014, 48-year-old teacher Kathy Netherland and her 16-year-old daughter, Samantha, were found dead inside their home. WAVE reported Kathy had been shot multiple times, while Samantha had been bludgeoned about the head, both women showing knife wounds to their necks. Again, the motive and perpetrator have never been determined. Speaking in the wake of the Ballard shooting, longtime Bardstown resident Betty Greenwell told WDRB, “All these killings and murders and things going on here — it makes you nervous. Very nervous.”
And interestingly, Crystal’s aunt went missing from the area in 1979.
Freda Sharene “Sherry” Ballard, went missing from Bardstown, according to The Kentucky Standard. The 19-year-old was over seven months pregnant at the time of her disappearance, and her remains weren’t found until August 1983. They were discovered on a farm close to where Rogers’ car was found. Her estranged husband, Edsel “Eddie” Barnes, and another man, George Weir, were eventually convicted and sentenced to life in prison for her murder.
In July 2017, Brooks’ new girlfriend, Crystal Maupin was arrested. You can see Crystal Maupin’s Facebook here.
Crystal ‘Lite’ had been going around Bardstown ripping down signs that Crystal Rogers’ had put up.
An article from WDRB.com says:
Nelson County Sheriff’s detectives arrested Crystal Maupin on Friday. According to an arrest warrant, the video shows Maupin “getting out of her car and taking the sign.”
“Why wouldn’t she help us? said Sherry Ballard, Crystal Rogers’ mother. “Why wouldn’t the give us all the support? If he is so innocent, like he says he is…”
Crystal Maupin was charged with theft by unlawful taking.
In November 2017, on the one year anniversary of Tommy Ballards death, signs appeared around Bardstown, implicating Brooks in Crystal’s disappearance and death.
Crystal’s family deny any involvement in the signs.
In the summer of 2018, Brooks Houck was arrested for stealing more than 200 bundles of shingles from Lowe’s during four separate visits during an 11-day period. He pleaded not guilty to a handful of felony theft charges.
In November 2018, a court ruled Sherry Ballard could no longer see her grandson, Eli. She had previously been seeing him every other weekend. She appealed the decision.
A juror spoke after the verdict was handed down:
“It was his mistake and their mistake but 80 percent theirs, because the workers, every one of them, has only been there one or 2 months, and that one girl that came up said she lied so she wouldn’t have to be a witness on the case,” said Peyton Gentry, a juror in the case. “Plus, we had a contractor on the jury with us, and he said when they get it, they load it and take it to a site. They have other people work for them, so they may never look at it.”
Things were pretty quiet until 2020 in this case. I believe Brooks and Crystal Lite are still together (based on her social media)
On the 5 year anniversary of Crystal’s disappearance, one of her children spoke to the media. Kyleigh Fenwick was 14 when Crystal disappeared and was 19 at the time of the anniversary.
“Waking up every day and not being able to wake up and be like ‘Hey mom’ and ‘What are you going to do today?’ Just like normal little things. The little things really matter more than the big huge things,”
“People say it gets easier. It never gets easier,” she said.
“Like graduation. When I graduated high school, seeing all the kids with their moms and they were like so proud. I knew my mom was proud, but like just wanting her to be there physically, it was very hard to see other moms there,” Fenwick said.
She also spoke about the day that her mother went missing:
“I was calling and texting and she wasn’t answering,” she said. “Nobody could get a hold of her.”
On July 23, 2020, Nelson County Sheriff’s Office investigators became aware of the existence of human remains in a remote area near the Washington County line.
We thought this was the break! This HAD to be Crystal. The remains were found very close to where she disappeared – around 4 miles from the Houck Family Farm.
“The Nelson County Sheriff’s Office confirmed in a statement Sunday that human remains had been recovered in a rural part of the county.
The skeletal remains were discovered Thursday evening, and investigators called in an FBI team to help with recovery and identification. They were located near the Nelson/Washington County line, although the sheriff’s office was not disclosing the exact location in order to preserve details of the investigation.
Nelson County Sheriff Ramon Pineiroa said the remains were located in an area he characterized as difficult to discover.
He said his office was not going to speculate on whose remains they might be. While the highest-profile missing person in the area is Crystal Rogers, who went missing in July 2015 and is presumed dead, there are other lesser-known cases of missing persons.
“Out of respect for multiple families, we will not be commenting until we have results,” Pineiroa said.
The remains are being sent to Quantico, Virginia, for analysis by the FBI. Pineiroa declined to speculate when those results might come back.
“We are at the top of the list,” he said.
The Sheriff’s Office had been investigating the remains since at least Friday, and several people reported seeing the FBI vehicle come through Bardstown. By Sunday afternoon, the news had spread by word of mouth that the FBI was in town investigating something.”
Katie Anderson with the FBI Louisville Field Office said that the age of the victim is “estimated to be 24 to 82 years.” The victim’s height is estimated to be between 5 feet 2 inches and 5 feet 10 inches, but they cannot yet exclude the possibility that the remains could be male.
And then in August 2020, FBI agents turned up at a storage unit that belonged to Crystal. They had taken over the investigation into Crystal’s disappearance once the human remains were found.
The agents went through boxes of belongings at the storage unit, piling items outside, including clothes, toys, diapers, TVs and furniture. The FBI said Rogers’s mother, Sherry Ballard, consented to the search.
The car that was found abandoned at the time Crystal disappeared was also in the storage unit and the vehicle was towed away for further investigation.
In November 2020, we got more news about the identity of the human remains. Shockingly, they did not belong to Crystal.
The Nelson County Sheriff released this statement:
Today, we received word from the FBI that the human remains, which were located at the Washington County/Nelson County line were not those of Crystal Rogers. Just like our community we were hopeful it would assist in answers and closure in Crystal Rogers case. The remains were processed through CODIS, which stands for the Combined DNA Index System. The case remains open as the human remains are unidentified at time.
The FBI is continuing to investigate the Crystal Roger’s case. The results on the human remains does not change their investigation or drive to bring closure and justice for the Ballard family and the citizens of Nelson County.
We will continue to work with the FBI and assist with anything that is needed. The Nelson County Sheriff’s Office will continue to be the lead agency on the human remains case. Captain Brandon Bryan is the lead investigator on the case.
We want to thank the FBI for their assistance and teamwork over the last 18 plus months.
Reporter Shay McAllister spoke to Sherry Ballard once this news broke:
We are now at 2021 and Crystal will have been missing for 6 years this July.
The custody dispute between Sherry and Brooks over Eli is still ongoing. Sherry spoke to Oxygen in March 2021 and said that she’s been denied visitation rights based on a claim made by Houck’s camp that the child once heard something negative being said about Houck while visiting Ballard. The boy allegedly asked his father, ‘what did you do to my mommy,’ and added that “everyone wants to know.'”
Sherry denies the allegation and says she was always careful not to speak about Brooks in front of Eli.
“I feel discriminated against,” she told Oxygen.com. “They can’t hold it against me that my daughter was murdered and just assume that I’m going to speak badly of the father. They’ve denied me visitation for the last two years based on something that didn’t happen and I didn’t get to defend myself.”
Sherry has not seen Eli in two years – minus one chance run-in at the local Walmart. In February, a Nelson County judge denied Ballard the right to visit Eli, citing animosity between families that could pose a significant risk of emotional harm to the child.
“They just ripped that baby away from me because they said there’s too much animosity between the families,” Ballard told Oxygen.com. “I’ve never denied the animosity but I know people who go through a divorce and they still get to see their children. I know I’m not the mother, but the mother’s not here and the father’s the number one suspect.”
I cannot find any further updates on the human remains found in Nelson County. They don’t seem to be in NAMUS as far as I can see – oversight or have they been identified?
The search for Crystal still continues. The FBI are in charge of her case and they are offering a reward of up to $25,000 for information leading to the identification, arrest and conviction of the individual(s) responsible for her disappearance.
In August 2021, the FBI initiated a new search in the Woodlawn Springs subdivision of Bardstown.
The search has focused on homes built and previously owned by Brooks. The FBI announced that they had uncovered “multiple items of interest”. In a social media post, FBI Louisville said the items are “potentially relevant” to the investigation.
Large construction equipment could be seen tearing up the driveway of the home and hauling large piles of dirt and concrete slabs away from the search. Agents were also seen using SONAR equipment.
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