A key arrest was made Wednesday in the case of Crystal Rogers, a 35-year-old Bardstown mother of five whose disappearance has remained unsolved since she vanished in 2015.
Rogers is presumed dead, and her boyfriend, Brooks Houck, 41, who has long been named the main suspect in the case was arrested following a Sept. 20 grand jury indictment.
The disappearance of Rogers has gained widespread attention, but isn’t the only one in Central Kentucky — or even in the Bardstown area — to remain unsolved years later. Here’s a look at a few other cold cases in the region.
Other cold cases in Bardstown, KY
Rogers’ disappearance and presumed death is not the only cold case in Nelson County, not even within the last decade.
In November of 2016, more than a year after Rogers vanished, her father, 54-year-old Tommy Ballard, was fatally shot in the chest when he was out hunting with his grandson.
Prior to the killing, Ballard was leading and coordinating the local search for his daughter, creating a community group called “Team Crystal.” Tommy Ballard’s father, Till Ballard, believes the two deaths are connected, he recently told the Herald-Leader.
“Tommy wasn’t going to stop searching” for his daughter, Till Ballard told the Herald-Leader earlier this month. “Somebody had to stop him.”
Another unsolved case in Bardstown dates to May 2013, when police officer Jason Ellis was killed in what has been described as an ambush. Investigators have said Ellis stopped his vehicle at an exit along the Bluegrass Parkway to remove debris from the roadway when he was fatally shot and killed by an assailant wielding a shotgun.
Ellis, who was 33, left behind a wife and two children. The FBI still advertises a $50,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction in the slaying.
Almost a year later, on April 21, 2014, Bardstown Elementary School teacher Kathy Netherland, 48, and her 16-year-old daughter Samantha were killed and found at their home the next morning.
Though investigators obtained surveillance footage of a black car believed to be driven by the suspect in the brutal double homicide, the lead has never amounted to an arrest. Kentucky State Police representatives told WLKY in April, on the ninth anniversary of the tragedy, investigators were still working to solve the crime.
The Herald-Leader has reached out to the Nelson County Sheriff’s Office for comment about the Ellis and Netherland cases and whether there’s an update for either of the investigations.
Cold cases in Lexington, KY
There are several unsolved homicides in the Lexington area, as well.
The city of Lexington lists three such cases on its website, including the deaths of Walter Ago, Willie Bishop and Elvin Wilkerson, all of whom have been dead since the 1970s, though their killings remain unsolved. The Herald-Leader has reached out to the Lexington Police Department for more information about these cases.
What’s been called Lexington’s “most notorious” cold case is the killing of Betty Gail Brown.
On the morning of Oct. 27, 1961, the 19-year-old Transylvania University student was found strangled with her own bra in the front seat of her car, which was parked in front of the Old Morrison Building on the university’s campus.
Police files say Brown left nearby Forrer Hall at about midnight and was dead just an hour later. Her body was found at 3 a.m. by a campus police officer. Her purse was untouched, though her keys had been slung into the back seat of her car.
In 1965, a man named Alex Arnold confessed to the crime, though later recanted his confession when the case went to trial, according to a previous Herald-Leader report.
The ultimately ended in a hung jury and was declared a mistrial. Arnold was never tried again, and the case was marked “cleared by arrest,” but the public’s questions about the killing lingered.
Explored in a book by Robert Lawson, Brown’s death remains one of the most famous cold cases in Kentucky.
This story may be updated.
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