1 year later: Key suspects involved in Crystal Rogers case
BARDSTOWN, KY (WAVE) - Crystal Rogers, a Nelson County woman and mother of five children, was last seen by her family July 3, 2015. She was with her boyfriend, Brooks Houck, on his family's farm where they were spending time with their 2-year-old son, according to Rogers' family.
Two days later, her car was found on Bluegrass Parkway, near mile marker 12, just outside of Bardstown. There were no obvious signs of foul play near the car and her possessions were inside of it, according to Nelson County Sheriff Ed Mattingly.
It remains unclear how her 2007 maroon Impala ended up with a flat tire on the side of the road. This is a piece of the puzzle that Rogers parents believe could help solve the case. They're seeking anyone who may have seen Rogers car on the Bluegrass Parkway that day.
"Somebody had to see her car on the BG that night," Rogers' father, Tommy Ballard, said. "If we could just reach out to that one who had to see who got out of the car and who picked them up."
It was on that day, July 5, 2015, Rogers was reported missing. Her family began searching rural areas throughout the state, searching for any and all clues that could lead to Rogers' whereabouts. Police did execute a search warrant on Houck's farm, but nothing turned up during the search.
"I've said since the beginning, I'm not going to quit looking until she's home," Tommy Ballard added.
Since Rogers went missing, her mother, Sherry Ballard, fears that people are tired of hearing her daughter's name. However, her family's faith was restored this week after a woman reached out to the family with new information.
"That is going to help," Tommy Ballard said. "It ain't going to solve the case, but it will help."
Detectives are leaving no lead untouched.
"They've did a pretty good job," Sherry Ballard said. "They've gotten pretty far and we get closer every day," she added.
On Oct. 16, 2015 brothers Brooks and Nick Houck were added to Nelson County Sheriff Ed Mattingly's radar as being connected to the disappearance of Rogers.
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That same day, Nick Houck was fired as an officer with the Bardstown Police Department for allegedly interfering with the Rogers case. According to a document released by the city of Bardstown, Nick Houck called his brother on July 8 to warn him that detectives were planning to interview him regarding his girlfriend's disappearance. That call came while a detective was in the middle of interviewing Brooks Houck.
"(Nick Houck) has failed a polygraph regarding Mrs. Rogers' disappearance, he advised his brother to not speak to the police, he refused to speak to our investigator and he has been uncooperative in grand jury testimony and has selective amnesia," Mattingly said. "He's not worthy of being a police officer."
On this day, Sheriff Mattingly called Brooks Houck a suspect in the case, adding that he believed Nick Houck "has knowledge of what has happened." Brooks Houck is the last person known to have seen Rogers before she disappeared. He has maintained his innocence and has not been charged or arrested.
Roger's was presumed dead by Nelson County Sheriff's Department on Oct. 16.
On Dec. 16, 2015 Danny Singleton, and employee of Brooks Houck, was indicted on 38 counts of perjury by the Nelson County Grand Jury. The charges stemmed from a previous grand jury testimony in reference to Roger's disappearance. He pleaded not guilty to those charges on Jan. 7.
"He's (Singleton) helped him (Houck) for a long time, he is like his right hand man," Sherry Ballard said. "I hope he stays in jail and if he knows anything he comes forward and tells us that he does."
Houck was not present for Singleton's January court hearing. The Ballard's said if anyone knows anything about their daughter's disappearance, it would be Singleton. Singleton was represented by a public defender in court.
His bond was reduced from $200,000 to $100,000 in March.
In January, Roger's parents, Tom and Sherry Ballard, filed a court motion to prevent Houck from leaving the state with the son he shares with her. The motion explained why the family believed Houck was arranging to leave the state, including "(Brooks Houck) has been attempting to sell all of his real estate holdings below market value." The Ballard's told the court they believed Houck was preparing to flee Kentucky with the child.
This allegation was denied by Houck's attorney, Philip George.
"We're not going anywhere, we have no plans to go anywhere," George said. "There is no reason for anyone to be alarmed."
However, George didn't deny that Houck is selling property, because he is in the real estate business as a source of income, according to George.
On Jan. 21, two other men were charged for making false statement in the case of Roger's disappearance. Nelson County Sheriff's Department said Vincent D. Nethery, 22, and Donald L. Howard, 27, lied to investigators about having information, each made statements that implicated Danny Singleton in the murder of Rogers. Under further questioning, both Nethery and Howard admitted to having lied to investigators, according to the sheriff's department.
At that time, Nelson County Assistant Sheriff Ramon Pineiroa said the Rogers case remained a missing person investigation. According to Pineiroa, the word "murder" was used in connection with the charges filed against Nethery and Howard because that is what both men said to investigators during their statements.
On June 2, Singleton requested his case be dismissed and his bond be lowered. The judge agreed to take his requests into consideration because he had been in jail for six months.
Meanwhile, Brooks Houck's grandmother, Anna Whitesides, was subpoenaed to court in regards to a white Buick. That subpoena states may have been used to dispose of a body. On June 15, Whitesides' attorney filed a motion to overturn the subpoena so that she doesn't have to take the stand. Whitesides pleaded the Fifth Amendment.
One year after Roger's was reported missing, no arrests have been made in connection to disappearance.
This week Rogers' family is asking everyone to hang pink ribbons or pink balloons in support of Crystal Rogers.
The community gather at St. Thomas Parish Tuesday evening in remembrance of Rogers. Family and friends lit candles, leaning on one another during song and prayer. Her five children sat close to their grandparents for comfort.
"I really didn't think we would be here a year later," Mary Taylor said.
Taylor has spearheaded several fundraisers and vigils during the past year, to help Roger's family.
"I thought we would have closure and answered by now but you know we are going to go at it until the end," she added.
Pink balloons and lanterns colored the sky, each one representing a prayer, calling Roger's back home.
"We want everyone to know we haven't forgotten her," Sherrie Ballard said.
"We are not giving up," Tommy Ballard added.
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