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Crystal Rogers: FBI agents discover ‘item of interest’ in Bardstown dig

Published: Aug. 27, 2021 at 11:11 AM EDT|Updated: Aug. 27, 2021 at 10:35 PM EDT
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BARDSTOWN, Ky. (WAVE) - The FBI’s Louisville office announced Friday that it has discovered an “item of interest” on its fourth day of digging in a Nelson County subdivision.

Agents returned to the Woodlawn Springs neighborhood in Bardstown as they continue to search for clues in the case of missing mother Crystal Rogers.

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The FBI didn’t elaborate on the specifics of the discovery, but said the item “is being further evaluated.”

The Nelson County Sheriff’s Department has been assisting the FBI by securing the entrance of the properties. Sheriff Ramon Pineriroa said his deputies have been standing in 90-degree heat for at least 12 hours a day the last few days.

On Tuesday, Pineriroa said they had to turn around 90 cars from trying to reach the property. As the search continued, he said it’s gotten easier; the community has been respectful and supportive.

“They dropped off water, snacks, a quiet generator with a fan to keep the deputies cool,” Pineriroa said. “It’s been phenomenal.”

Pineriroa told reporters he was excited at the thought that the FBI might be getting closer to solving the case.

“I’m getting goosebumps, and at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter who solves it, as long as it gets solved,” he said. “It’s not about the Nelson County Sheriff’s Office, it’s not about the FBI, it’s about getting closure for the family and putting the people behind bars at the end of the day.”

The item of interest is a promising sign to longtime Bardstown locals, like Isaac Cothern.

“Between that and all the other murders that have gone on, I’m sure everyone knows Jason Ellis, it’s heartbreaking and there’s not been a lick of evidence anywhere.” Cothern said. “Seeing the FBI going in going to Woodlawn, and they’re actually starting to dig up and look for evidence and stuff, it kind of gives you a little bit of hope.”

Neighbors told WAVE 3 News the hole the FBI dug on Friday was at least 7 feet deep. Agents also began digging in the yard, according to community members who live near the site.

Rogers’ family said the FBI’s plans to dig up the entire yard.

The FBI plans to return to Woodlawn Springs over the weekend.

On Thursday, agents tore up a concrete driveway and dug at least a four-foot-deep hole underneath, neighbors and family told WAVE 3 News. The FBI homed in on one property being built by Rogers’ boyfriend -- Brooks Houck, the only suspect named in the case -- at the time of her disappearance in 2015.

Rogers’ mother, Sherry Ballard, said the FBI plans to rip up the entire concrete driveway in front of that property.

The FBI did not allow media to see the investigation site, but WAVE 3 News crews saw a truck filled with what looked like concrete and dirt drive out of the investigation site dozens of times Thursday.

Neighbors in the Woodlawn Springs subdivision said more agents were present, and they expanded their dig site closer toward the street.

Alex Tichenor, who lives in the Woodlawn Springs subdivision, told WAVE 3 News he wasn’t surprised when he saw the FBI show up to his neighborhood this week.

”Some of the neighbors and (Crystal Rogers’) father had come out here before, and they had some (cadaver dog) hits, but nothing was ever done about it, so it’s nice,” Tichenor said. “Whether it’s a dead end or whether it’s anything, at least somebody is following up on any leads they have.”

Another neighbor, Larry Spalding, said he couldn’t see any FBI activity from his house, but he did hear some loud noises as the investigation continued. He, like many in Bardstown, said he hopes investigators find answers for Rogers’ family’s sake.

“Something like that’s devastating, obviously,” Spaulding said. “You don’t have any closure in her particular case, and the fact that they’re still investigating this is incredibly encouraging. I sincerely, like most people, would hope that they find something.”

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