The FBI has taken the lead in the investigation into the 2015 disappearance of Kentucky mother-of-five Crystal Rogers, conducting dramatic simultaneous raids and raising hopes that the case could at long last be resolved.
On Thursday, the FBI announced sweeping steps in the investigation, with 150 federal agents executing search warrants on nine properties and conducting 50 interviews.
Rogers, 35, was last seen on July 3, 2015 in Bardstown by her boyfriend Brooks Houck, who claimed that she was up playing games on her phone that night, but was not in the house when he woke up the next morning.
The same day she was reported missing, Rogers’ maroon Chevrolet Impala was found on the side of the Bluegrass Parkway with a flat tire, unlocked, and with her purse, keys and uncharged phone still inside.
Houck is the only person police have ever named as a suspect in the case, though he has never been arrested or charged.
His brother, Nick Houck, was fired from the Bardstown Police Department for allegedly warning Brooks Houck that cops were coming to question him, and subsequently failing a lie detector test about the case.
The homes of both brothers were among those raided on Thursday. The dramatic new investigative steps come just weeks after human remains were found in the area, although authorities have not confirmed whether they have been identified.
Additionally, the Houck family farm outside of town in Nelson County was raided.
At Brooks Houck’s home, a large number of IRS agents were seen removing files, documents and computer hard drives, according to WLKY-TV.
The raid lasted over seven hours, and after the federal agents departed, Brooks Houck was seen mowing his lawn.
At Nick Houck’s home, FBI agents with canines were focused on a pickup truck. Evidence was also collected from the home, and Nick Houck was taken away by law enforcement, according to witnesses.
The Houck farm has already been searched three times previously, but on Thursday police divers were seen searching a pond on the property.
Investigators previously said that they believe the farm may be the actual spot where Rogers was last seen alive.
Although the FBI announced that nine search warrants were being served, it was not immediately clear where the other six warrants were targeted.
‘A hallmark of the FBI is we never give up. The FBI is committed to bringing those responsible to justice, but we are going to need the community’s assistance,’ said FBI Louisville Special Agent in Charge Robert Brown in a statement.
‘I ask that members of the community think back to July 3rd and 4th of 2015. For those individuals who have information about this incident but who have not yet spoken to law enforcement for whatever reason, please contact us,’ he said.
In addition to the FBI, the Internal Revenue Service, the Kentucky State Police, and the United States Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Kentucky are assisting with the investigation.
In interviews soon after Rogers’ disappearance, Brooks Houck said the mother to his then two-year-old son was not at home when he woke up on the Fourth of July.
Houck said he wasn’t concerned because the couple has had a ‘stressed relationship’ at times and Rogers would sometimes ‘cope or deal’ by spending the night at her cousin Sabrina’s house.
‘I was not in the least little bit alarmed in any way, shape or form,’ he told Nancy Grace on HLN. ‘She spent the night there on several occasions.’
‘I’ve been 100 percent cooperative in every that has been asked of me,’ he said. ‘I’ve not asked for any kind of legal advice or assistance, an attorney of any nature.’
‘I’m 100 percent completely innocent in this.’ Houck took a polygraph test but the results were inconclusive, he said.
Rogers’ family immediately doubted his story and suspected his involvement, they told the media.
The family cheered the move when Nelson County Sheriff Ed Mattingly officially named Brooks Houck a suspect on October 16, 2015 — though no arrest ever came of it.
Also in October 2015, Nick Houck was fired from the Bardstown Police Department following his suspension.
Nick has been accused of warning his brother that detectives were planning to question him and later told him not to talk to police.
Authorities said the former officer also failed a polygraph test.
Police released an interview that followed the test, where the polygraph examiner told Nick Houck the questions he had problems with were regarding Crystal Rogers.
‘I don’t give a god d*** what your f***ing computer said,” Houck responds in the interview. ‘I’m telling you that I have been 100 percent honest with you.’
Rogers’ parents said that when they heard the interviews, the first thing that went through their minds was ‘that they done it’.
In August 2019, a home owned by Brooks Houck burned down in Bardstown in what authorities said was a case of arson.
Bardstown Fire Chief Billy Mattingly said the house consisted of a frame with no gas or electricity running to it, so it was likely set on fire. He said disgruntled employees who work for Houck might have been to blame.
Officials have created a website with more information about the case and to accept tips and information from the community, at crystalrogerstaskforce.com.
The FBI is offering a $25,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those involved in the disappearance of Crystal Rogers.