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A missing girl and her murdered Father

Updated: Sep 23, 2022

Crystal Rogers and Tommy Ballard

Born April 4, 1980 Crystal Rogers was a blonde haired, blue eyed beauty. A 35 year old mother of five small children, a loving and devoted daughter, sister, and friend, Crystal was adored by those around her. She lived in the small rural town of Bardstown, Kentucky, with her boyfriend, Brooks Houck. Like many small towns in America Bardstown appeared, on the surface at least, to be an idyllic place to live. However, as Crystal and her family would soon find out, dark secrets can lurk just beneath the surface.

July 3, 2015 was a normal day for Crystal, she was seen at the home she shared with Brooks playing games on her phone. That would be the last time she was seen alive. Her family would report her missing the next day, July 4, 2015, when they were unable to reach her. When Crystal went missing many residents of the Kentucky town immediately drew a connection between Crystal's disappearance and three very recent unsolved murders in Bardstown. Police Officer Jason Ellis was ambushed and murdered while on-duty on May 25, 2013; and Kathy and Samantha Nederland were killed in their home on April 22, 2014. A year after the mother and daughter were killed in their home Crystal Rogers would vanish without a trace.

Little evidence was found during the investigation into Crystal's disappearance. Her car was found later the same day she was reported missing, a red Chevy Impala, parked on the side of the Bluegrass Parkway near mile marker 14. Her keys, purse, and cell phone would also be located inside of the car. The car was taken into police custody to be tested for forensic evidence. However, no items from inside the car were ever logged into evidence, and according to the Oxygen docuseries "The Disappearance of Crystal Rogers" the car appeared like it was never forensically tested.

The people in Bardstown were on edge after 3 murders and a disappearance; with just over 13,000 residents most were terrified at the thought that there was a murderer hiding among them. And unfortunately another member of Crystal's family was going to be added to the list of strange and twisted events happening in Bardstown.

Crystal's family was incredibly outspoken after her disappearance, and rallied community support to try and find their daughter. Her father especially was extremely committed to bringing her home. He kept detailed records about the circumstances around her disappearance, essentially conducting his own investigation. Crystal's father Tommy was also very vocal about his opinion that Crystal's boyfriend Brooks was somehow involved in her disappearance.

Brooks Houck was a local business man who owned and managed several properties in town, and a rental company simply called Houck Rentals. His brother, Nick Houck, was a Bardstown police officer. Police questioned Brooks after Crystal's disappearance, however, during the interview his brother Nick called and advised him not to talk to police.

Nick Houck was also eventually interviewed about the disappearance of Crystal, and was subsequently fired from the Bardstown Police Department after failing a polygraph test on his knowledge of the events leading up to Crystal going missing. It was believed that Nick Houck knew more than he was saying, and was therefore interfering with an investigation; police eventually announced they believed Crystal had been murdered, and named Brooks Houck a suspect.

Searches were conducted by both the Bardstown Police and the FBI of properties the Houck family owned; several items of interest were collected, although police never shared what those items were. Crystal's body was not located in those searches.

Just over a year after Crystal went missing, on the morning of November 19, 2016, her father Tommy made plans with his 11 year old grandson to go hunting on a parcel of land owned by the Ballard family. The pair set out early that morning, making their way deeper into the dense woods that shrouded the property just after 7 am. Tommy's grandson relayed to police he had walked back to the truck they drove to the property in, and his grandpa waited nearby in the field for him. It's not clear if Tommy's grandson heard the shot, however his son Casey was working on a different plot of land nearby and later recalled hearing the shot. Tommy called out for his grandson, who ran to his grandfather and found him on the ground, bleeding and fading fast. At 7:54 am Tommy's grandson would make a haunting 911 call, begging for someone to help his Grandpa. However, by the time help arrived it was too late. Tommy had been shot in the chest, front center mass, and was dead by the time police arrived. Police were able to rule out Tommy's grandson pretty quickly, the boy did not have his rifle at the time of the shooting, and it was clear his weapon was never fired that morning. Police believe the shot came from the direction of the Bluegrass Parkway, somewhere between mile markers 21 and 25.

Tommy's wife Shelly Rogers would later say that she knew his death wasn't an accident. Shelly claimed Tommy had told her on multiple occasions in the weeks leading up to his death that he believed someone was following him. Shelly believes her husband may have been getting close to finding out what happened to his daughter, she believes if they can figure out what happened to Crystal they will have more answers as to what happened to Tommy.

At the time of this article all 5 of the cases mentioned are still open and unsolved.


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