The Mysterious 2015 Disappearance Of Crystal Rogers

Where is Crystal Rogers? It's a question that haunts the family of the Bardstown, Kentucky mother of five. Seven years after Rogers disappeared on July 3rd, 2015 — and hundreds of searches later — they're still without answers, although in September 2023, two arrests have finally been made in the case (via CBS). 

Over the Fourth of July weekend in 2022, as the anniversary of Rogers' disappearance passed, her mother Sherry Ballard, spoke with local CBS affiliate WLKY about her frustrations. "Who do I look to for help? I'm so disappointed in our justice system, so disappointed," she told WLKY. She said every year since the disappearance, she's hopeful her daughter's case will be solved.

Those who last saw Rogers on the day she went missing describe what appeared to be an ordinary day. Her cousin said she shopped at Walmart. Her ex-husband said she dropped off two of their children with him. Her boyfriend reported they had a date night, via WHAS 11 in Kentucky. And then she was gone.

Ballard called authorities on July 5, 2015, to report her daughter missing. Later that day, Rogers' car was found abandoned along a main highway. Her belongings were still inside, including her purse, keys, and cell phone.

Leads and searches in the mysterious disappearance

Four days after Crystal Rogers' disappearance, police interviewed her boyfriend Brooks Houck. His brother Nick, who at the time was a local police officer, interrupted the interview, telling Brooks to leave, via WHAS 11.

Later, Brooks Houck's family farm was searched and his brother Nick was ordered to answer questions for investigators. Among the questions asked was why he had bodily fluids in the trunk of his car. Nick said he didn't know how they got there. Police would later fire him for failing a polygraph. Three months after Rogers was last seen alive, police named Brooks Houck the main suspect in her disappearance. 

In 2021, the Rogers family received new hope in the case. FBI agents dug up a driveway in a subdivision where Brooks Houck had built several homes, via WLKY. Agents hauled away what they called "items of interest" to be examined in a Virginia lab, via the Courier Journal

"The items they found, it was a very uplifting, exciting moment for everyone because we thought this is the answers," Ballard told WLKY, adding she now doesn't think the search would bring what she'd been hoping for. In addition to the investigations by law enforcement, Ballard says she's conducted more than 200 searches on her own with the help of family, friends, and volunteers.

Another family tragedy and the ongoing search for answers

Crystal Rogers' father, Tommy Ballard, was also active in the search for his missing daughter. He founded a group of community members called Team Crystal dedicated to bringing his daughter home. But 16 months after Crystal disappeared, as Tommy Ballard was preparing to go on a hunting trip with his grandson, he was shot dead on the family's property, according to the FBI — and this case also remains unsolved.

The puzzling case has been the subject of at least two documentaries, including an episode of HLN's "Real Life Nightmare" and Oxygen's "The Disappearance of Crystal Rogers." It's also been the topic of numerous podcasts and news reports.

The FBI offered a $25,000 reward for information that led to an arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for the disappearance of Crystal Rogers. There is also a $10,000 reward for information on the murder of Tommy Ballard. 

Arrests finally made

The Ballard family shared that Brooks Houck was finally arrested in late September 2023, and they released the following statement: "This morning the Ballard family received word that Brooks Houck was arrested for an indictment warrant after being indicted by a Nelson County Grand Jury. Brooks Houck was named the number one suspect in Crystal's case in 2015. ... At this time we ask for privacy as this is another step forward for justice for Crystal. Continue to pray that justice is served and we bring Crystal home."

In addition to Houck, authorities arrested another man in connection to the Rogers case earlier in September. Joseph Lawson was arrested on the charges of conspiracy to commit murder as well as a "tampering with physical evidence" charge.

Sherry Ballard posted a statement to Facebook outlining her feelings at this turn of events. "To say today was overwhelming would be an understatement," she wrote (via WAVE3). "I have waited eight long, gruesome years for this day. To see Brooks Houck put in handcuffs was surreal for me. I've always known he was guilty now everyone will know that. I don't really even know the emotions I have felt today."