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Records support claims of Nick Houck’s ‘lack of cooperation’

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Statements indicate mistrust of investigators

By Kacie Goode

Records from Nick Houck’s personnel file support claims of the officer’s “lack of cooperation” during the investigation of Crystal Rogers’ disappearance. Statements made by Nick Houck throughout the investigation also show his mistrust of investigators and his inability to recall details in interviews, which bothered those working the case.

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At a press conference Friday, Nick Houck’s termination from the Bardstown Police Department for interfering with the investigation was announced to the public.

Pursuant to an open records request filed with the city of Bardstown following Houck’s termination, video and audio files, as well as letters, were released to The Kentucky Standard.

In a letter dated Sept. 8, Bardstown Police Chief Rick McCubbin wrote to Mayor John Royalty “with great concern” regarding Nick Houck and his involvement with an ongoing investigation.

McCubbin said he believed Nick Houck had violated numerous policies, rules of standards, and perhaps “might even be subject to the misdemeanor charge of Official Misconduct.”

The letter cites several events between July 8 and July 24 in which McCubbin says Nick Houck violated police policies and standards.

Those events include Nick Houck’s July 8 call to his brother, Brooks Houck, who was Rogers’ live-in boyfriend and is now considered a suspect in her disappearance.

The call was recorded on video while Brooks was being interviewed by Nelson County Sheriff’s Detective Jonathan Snow. During the call, Brooks is heard explaining to his brother that he is in an interview with the detective. Brooks asks his brother, “Do you want me to get up and leave?” and it is inferred by Brooks’ responses that Nick is telling him the investigators may be “vindictive.” When the call ends, Brooks tells Snow, “He thinks ya’ll are gonna (expletive) is what he thinks,” and confirms that it was his brother, Nick, who called. Snow acknowledged later that he could not clearly hear what Nick was saying during the conversation.

In a July 15 interview with Kentucky State Police, Nick tells investigators he knew before making the call that Brooks was being interviewed. He said he was concerned that officers were “trying to trip him up” by asking the same questions over and over, because the interview was taking so long. He also told investigators that he wanted his brother to “protect himself” and be sure that he was thinking clearly. He also told KSP that he never told Brooks to leave the interview with Snow.

Further events cited in McCubbin’s letter include disregarding a verbal command from McCubbin to cooperate with the lead investigator July 10, meeting with Kentucky State Police but pushing off a requested polygraph test July 15, and refusing again to take a polygraph after being contacted by an FBI agent July 20, claiming he was “off duty.”

On July 24, McCubbin wrote that Nick Houck agreed to take the polygraph test and that the chief was contacted by the examiner, who expressed “grave concerns” with the results.

Following McCubbin’s letter to the mayor, Nick Houck was suspended with pay on Sept. 9. That suspension was later changed to without pay on Sept. 24.

One audio file dated July 9 was a recorded phone conversation that Snow made to Nick Houck just days after Rogers was reported missing by her parents.

In the conversation, the detective asked Nick if he could come talk to him. The officer said he doesn’t have any information to give him.

“I mean, you know, I think Brooks has been completely cooperative,” Nick Houck stated. “If I had anything at all to give you, I’d be the first one to be there.”

Snow explained that he has to “cover all the bases.” He told the officer, “So, I’m gonna need to talk to you, if you’re willing to talk to me. If you’re not, that’s OK, but you need to let me know that.”

To which Nick Houck responded, “I’m probably not going to answer any questions,” adding that he had already answered questions on prior occasions. “If I had anything to give you, I would, Jon.”

After a short pause, Snow asked, “So, you’re not gonna come down here and talk to me?”

“That’s correct,” Houck responded.

In the KSP interview, Nick tells investigators that he was uncomfortable with Snow conducting the interview, saying he “has openly admitted that he lies in court.” In Nick’s Oct. 15 administrative hearing, Snow denied ever making that statement and said he had never lied in court.

Aside from being uncomfortable with Snow, Houck also told KSP that he felt it wouldn’t matter how his brother performed on a polygraph and that the examiner “wouldn’t have passed him no matter what,” and “that’s just what they said,” adding that no matter what Brooks did, he would look bad.

In the letter that McCubbin wrote Nick Houck Sept. 9 informing him of his suspension, the chief cited the same events as written to the mayor. He also wrote to Nick, “I believe your lack of candor and demeanor, and unprofessional attitude have not only damaged your reputation but that of the Bardstown Police Department and has brought serious disrepute to the entire department and city. This lack of candor and cooperation has struck a heavy blow to the entire department’s morale and working environment, not to mention the trust of many in this community.”