WHAT HAPPENED? (1)
Crystal Rogers, a 35-year-old mother of 5 from Bardstown, Kentucky, went missing on July 3, 2015. She was living with her boyfriend, Brooks Houck, along with all 5 children, including 1 2-year-old son, the couple's only child together.
Houck claimed she was on her phone playing games on her phone before she went to bed, but when he awoke the next morning, she and her car were gone. On July 5, her car was found with a flat tire, the keys in the ignition, and her purse and phone inside. She was reported missing the same day.
No one has ever been charged in relation to Crystal Rogers, and she has not bee seen or heard from since.
THE STRANGE INVESTIGATION (2)
Bardstown, Kentucky is known as the Bourbon Capital of the World, a small town with a population under 14,000. But for some reason, it has an "unsettling" number of high-profile unsolved murders and disappearances. Crystal's is chief among them.
On the topic of Crystal's actual disappearance, there isn't much to say. She went to bed at night, woke up without waking anyone, and drove away. Her car apparently got a flat, and whether she walked to get help (with no phone or purse) or was met with foul play is unknown. The most bizarre parts of the case come after.
For instance, Houck, Crystal's live-in boyfriend, did not report her missing for 2 days, or ever, really. It was ultimately Crystal's mother who reported her missing after her car was found abandoned. If your girlfriend left all 5 of her children at home and did not come back wouldn't you be suspicious?
Because of this, Houck was immediately a suspect, at least from Crystal's family. He claimed that she often stayed out late and wouldn't come home until the following morning, but 2 days isn't staying out late. Also, the last he had seen of her, she was playing on her phone before bed. Wouldn't he have known if she went out with friends? Crystal's sister didn't believe him, obviously, refusing to believe he did not think something was amiss when she left their 2-year-old baby behind.
Additionally, her sister said that he did not offer to search or help find Crystal in any way. Though he admitted that they had a strained relationship, he denied his involvement and claimed he was helping search "behind the scenes". A polygraph test was inconclusive.
He was officially named a suspect in 2015, but he maintained his innocence and was never officially charged or arrested in connection with Crystal's disappearance.
So, Houck is shady as hell, but is he guilty? Well, up next in the list of bizarre occurrences after Crystal went missing is that his brother, Nick, who was a cop with the Bardstown Police Department, was fired for interfering with Crystal's investigation. He would warn his brother when detectives planned to speak with him or interview him, potentially so he could protect himself or prepare.
Nick failed his polygraph test, to which he so politely and eloquently responded: "I don't give a goddamn what your fucking computer said. You're calling me a fucking liar and I don't like it when people call me a liar." Spoken like a true liar? Anyway, shady character number 2 but he was never charged or arrested in connection to Crystal's disappearance.
So Houck doesn't report his girlfriend missing and doesn't help look. His brother is tipping him off about interviews and gets fired after failing a polygraph. And now, his longtime friend, Danny Singleton, was arrested on 38 counts of false swearing after lying under oath about the investigation into Crystal's disappearance. He pleaded guilty and served 6 months.
But the Houck involvement doesn't even stop there! His grandmother was subpoenaed, and the 82-year-old invoked the 5th, refusing to testify so she didn't incriminate herself. They had wanted to ask her about her car that they believed was connected, but she refused to respond. Did an 82-year-old woman kill Crystal? Certainly not, but refusing to answer a question about a car seems a little suspicious if he wasn't involved.
Additionally weird, ever since Crystal went missing, her family plastered signs all around the town and nearby towns with her photo. In 2017, Houck's new girlfriend (ALSO NAMED CRYSTAL) was arrested after being caught ripping up the signs asking for information.
So, here's where weird gets a little bit weirder. Let's step away from the Houck family for a moment and talk about the Rogers family.
In December 19, 2016, over a year after Crystal disappeared, her 54-year-old father Tommy Ballard was shot in the chest by a still unknown person while waiting in a field with his grandson to go hunting. Crystal's mother believes that it was not an accident, and the same person responsible for the death of her husband was responsible for the death of their daughter. She believed that he was getting close to figuring out what happened to Crystal.
And back to weird sign stuff, 1 year after Crystal's dad was killed, signs were put up around the town speculating about Houck's involvement in Crystal's disappearance, but nobody knows who put the signs up.
And, weirder yet, Crystal isn't even the first person in her family to go missing. Back in 1979, her aunt went missing when she was 19 and 7 months pregnant. Her remains were found and eventually her estranged husband, and an accomplice, were convicted of her murder and sentenced to life in prison. So, mystery does seem to follow the Rogers family.
But also, it may just be a numbers game. Unsolved murders are a hot commodity in the small town of Bardstown. In 2013, a police officer named Jason Ellis was shot on his way home from work and killed by an unknown assailant. A year later, a teacher, Kathy Netherland, and her 16-year-old daughter Samantha were found shot, bludgeoned and stabbed in their home. No motive or killer have ever been found. Murder and mayhem are all over the small town.
So, essentially, everything in the town is weird, Houck is extremely suspicious, and death is everywhere. But what actually happened to Crystal Rogers?
Internet sleuths have their thoughts. Most of them boil down to Houck's involvement, with differences in motives. One user believes that perhaps Crystal had witnessed some illegal activity and he killed her to silence her, while others believed it was not premeditated but done in a fit of rage. Most believe his brother was called to help him with the body.
Some also believe that her death had something to do with the 2013 murder of the police officer, Jason Ellis. One user believes that Houck had actually been somehow inolved in Ellis's death (that's a whole other theory but some believe he was about to uncover something big, perhaps corruption in the police force) and he was taken out. When Houck found out that Crystal found out, and found out that she didn't support him, he had to kill her. It begins to make sense of all of the unsolved cases.
Something that keeps coming back to me in this case: her tire... was it intentionally flattened? Because if she was driving somewhere in the morning with the intent to return and she just randomly got a flat tire, that would indicate a potential crime of opportunity. But if it appeared to be intentional, that could be staged after the fact, easily. The tire could answer the question: did Crystal actually drive her car that morning, or was she dead before then?
Another element to add is that there were witnesses who saw a bonfire at their residence that night, so perhaps her body was burned as to never be found?
There are an insane amount of layers to this case. In some, the death of Jason Ellis ties to the disappearance of Crystal which lead to the murder of Tommy. (The mother and daughter seem to be outliers.) There are theories upon theories, hometown sleuths and armchair detectives digging up every single fact imaginable. But one thing is nearly for certain: Crystal Rogers was met with foul play. By whom? I'm going to say Brooks Houck. But the world may never officially know.
Crystal was an adored daughter. A valued friend. And a loving mother to her 5 children. And while she has not been officially declared dead, given the circumstances of her disappearance, it seems sadly fair to assume.
Like many small town disappearances and murders, Crystal Rogers' case may never be solved without a confession. Somebody knows something, and I would be willing to know a few people know that something. Something strange is going on in Bardstown, and in such a small town, it makes sense to believe the deaths are all connected instead of various isolated incidents... but who knows?
I had never heard of this case, and almost skipped it when I saw how short the Wikipedia entry is for it. I'm glad I dug in and learned about this creeptastic town, and I hope one day, what happened to Crystal, and all the people in the town, is figured out.