Crystal Rogers is a Louisville woman who has been missing since 2015; on August 6, 2020, the Federal Bureau of Investigations announced that it was taking over the investigation of the case and launched a new task force.
Rogers’ father was shot in 2016 and her mother, Sherry Ballard, has been in a custody battle with Brooks Houck, Rogers’ boyfriend, over a son that Rogers and Houck had together. Ballard believes Houck orchestrated her daughter’s disappearance, which he vehemently denies.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Rogers Went Missing the Day Before July 4 in 2015
Crystal Marie Rogers was a Bardstown native who worked with rental properties, according to WDRB, and she was also the mother of five children. Rogers, 35, was last heard from on the evening of July 3, 2015. According to WKLY, police said Rogers’ then-boyfriend, Brooks Houck, was the last person to see her alive.
Her red Chevrolet Impala was found “abandoned with a flat tire at mile marker 14 on the Bluegrass Parkway” on July 5, the task force website reported, with her keys, phone and purse still inside. Rogers’ mother had reported her daughter missing that same day.
According to her “missing” poster, Rogers is a white female with blonde hair and blue eyes, standing at 5-feet-9-inches tall and weighing 155 pounds. She has tattoos in the center of her back as well as on her lower back, ankle and left foot.
2. Rogers’ Family & Friends Have Tried To Keep Her Memory Alive
On the task force page, Rogers is described by her friend Beth Downs as “fun, caring, happy, humble (and) beautiful”:
Anytime I needed her she would drop everything. It did not matter. There was a time we were joined at the hip. Where one of us was you’d always find the other. As we got older and had families of our own we didn’t get to spend much time together, but always picked up right back where we left off.
She was a great Mom … Her kids were always her priority no matter what, and she always treated my girls like they were her own as well. She would always be willing to help someone. She would give her shirt off her back if needed and never ask for anything in return.
One of Rogers’ daughters also wrote about Rogers was “a very special (woman),” adding, “Since my mom’s been missing, life has been really hard. I always wonder what my life would be like if she and my papaw was still here.”
Ballard, Rogers’ mother, has made several high-profile media appearances, including on the Dr. Phil show, Megyn Kelly Today and other platforms; she was also featured in Oxygen’s docu-series, The Disappearance of Crystal Rogers. She told Fox News that she wanted to highlight her daughter’s disappearance in hopes of getting answers.
“I’ve been doing everything I could to find my daughter,” she said. “And I just felt like I needed the extra help. I wanted it out there that Crystal is still missing. And I figure the more people I reach, the better it would be for everybody to be more aware that Crystal is still not here.”
Ballard also expressed regret that she didn’t push her daughter for more answers about her relationship, telling Fox News, “She told me one time, ‘Mom, it’s not right, you have to let me live my own life.’ So I didn’t ask [more] because I was trying to let her be the adult and not interfere in my children’s lives… I could beat myself up every day.”
3. Ballard Suspects Rogers’ Boyfriend of Being Responsible for Her Daughter’s Disappearance
According to WKLY, one of Houck’s employees, Danny Singleton, pleaded guilty to false swearing after he initially faced 38 counts of perjury for lying to detectives. Houck’s grandmother, Anna Whitesides, was also implicated when she invoked her Fifth Amendment right when called to testify in court; the station reported that whoever was responsible for her disappearance used Whitesides’ car to move Rogers’ body.
Ballard has been very critical of Houck and told WDRB that she believes that he is guilty of something:
My daughter got mixed up with the wrong person. When she figured that out and tried to get out, I think it was just too late … He’s very deceiving. When you first meet him, everyone just thinks he’s the perfect gentleman. But when you really get to know him? You don’t know what kind of monsters live there. And I’m sorry, but I’ve always thought he’s guilty. He knows exactly how I feel. I’ve not made that a secret.
Ballard has also been in a custody dispute with Houck. A judge ruled in February of 2019 that Rogers’ 6-year-old son could not visit Ballard until the custody case was complete, WDRB reported.
Ballard initially had visitation with her grandson, but after several custody hearings, a trial court began to have concerns. According to WDRB, Houck said that when his son would return from visiting the Ballards, his son would be “sullen and uncooperative,” “extremely accusatory” and demanding to know, “‘what did you do to my mommy.’” As a result, a three-judge panel said that there was a “detrimental aspect” to the boy’s visits with his grandmother.
4. The FBI Has Taken Over the Case
As part of the FBI’s takeover of the case, eyewitnesses are alleging that Houck’s and his brothers’ homes were raided August 6 at about 6:30 a.m., the Kentucky Standard reported.
Witnesses told the paper that they saw “agents bringing a handcuffed Nick Houck out of the house Thursday morning” and agents who were searching the property.
Nick Houck was fired from the Bardstown Police Department after Rogers’ disappearance, WDRB reported. The Daily Beast alleged that Houck refused to be interviewed by the detectives searching for Rogers, failed an FBI polygraph test and tried to warn his brother when police were going to interview him.
Witnesses also said they heard loud noises at Brooks Houck’s residence and watched agents leaving with manila envelopes. Social media was abuzz with tweets following the progress of the warrant’s execution as well as Houck’s alleged reaction to mow the lawn once law enforcement left.
The FBI’s takeover comes two years after Ballard expressed her disappointment with how the investigation was initially handled, telling Fox News:
I won’t put down law enforcement, but, am I happy the way things were handled? No, I’m not happy about it,” said Ballard. “And they know that I’m not satisfied. Do you think they’re working their butts off now to find my daughter? I think 100 percent they are now. I just don’t think the law enforcement in this town has the means and knowledge for what was needed to find my daughter.
Now, a $25,000 reward is being offered to anyone willing to lead law enforcement to Rogers. In the press release, FBI Louisville Special Agent in Charge Robert Brown asked people to think about that July 4 weekend and come forward if they know anything: “A hallmark of the FBI is we never give up,” he said.
5. Ballard’s Husband Was Killed in the Year After Her Daughter’s Disappearance
Tommy Ballard, Sherry’s husband, was shot and killed in 2016; the 54-year-old, according to WDRB, was hunting on the family property when he was shot.
In interviews, Ballard has said that she believes her husband was killed because he was close to finding out what happened to Rogers.
“Was he getting close to something? I don’t know. Because we searched everywhere,” Ballard told WDRB. “I think they wanted my husband, who was a driving force in trying to find my daughter, out of the way. Whoever did that knows I could not find my daughter the way he tried to.”
According to Fox News, Houck’s attorney, Brian Butler, told the “Today Show” that his client “repeatedly, vehemently and publicly denied any wrongdoing in connection with the tragic disappearance and the death of [Rogers’] father.”
Tommy Ballard’s death was reported in the Oxygen documentary, as being classified by authorities as a “death investigation” and not a homicide because they could not rule out whether it was accidental.