BPD connection to Rogers investigation questioned

-A A +A

Boyfriend who last reportedly saw her has brother on police force

By Forrest Berkshire, Editor

Since shortly after Crystal Rogers went missing nearly two weeks ago, family members have voiced their suspicions that her boyfriend is tied in some way to her disappearance.

But in recent days, those suspicions have expanded to encompass more than just Brooks Houck, her 33-year-old live-in boyfriend and father of one of her five children. Several family members have also raised questions about Houck’s brother, Nick Houck, who is a Bardstown Police officer.

Several volunteers searching along Ky. 49 have reported seeing a Bardstown Police cruiser and another vehicle matching the description of Brooks’ vehicle pass by their field headquarters in the direction of the Houck family farm.

There have also been reports that Nick Houck was on administrative leave or suspended, and that his police cruiser had been seized as part of the investigation into Rogers’ disappearance.

Bardstown Police Chief Rick McCubbin acknowledged the rumors about Houck’s absence Thursday, and said they are false. But when pressed about the details of Houck’s cruiser, McCubbin declined to comment.

“He is not on administrative leave. He is not suspended. There’s nothing,” McCubbin said regarding Nick Houck’s duties with the department.

McCubbin said his officer was due back on Monday and was currently off work with the rest of his patrol platoon as part of his normal duty rotation.

When asked about Houck’s police cruiser, McCubbin said he could only confirm that the car had broken down and had to be towed. But it was not in the shop, and the Bardstown Police Department did not have the vehicle in its possession Thursday.

When asked where the cruiser was, McCubbin said that was a question the Nelson County Sheriff’s Office would have to answer.

Houck’s cruiser was allegedly seen traveling along Ky. 49 July 8 around sunset. Police have confirmed a search warrant was executed on the family farm — the last place police say Rogers was reported being seen by anyone other than Houck — on July 10.

“I would have to assume that’s true,” McCubbin said of witnesses’ claims that they saw Houck’s cruiser passing through the area. “He can take his car anywhere. To me that’s not alarming.”

McCubbin said it was a take-home car, and Houck’s mother lives on the farm on Paschal Ballard Road near the intersection of Balltown and Loretto roads.

McCubbin said Officer Nick Houck, a patrolman, would not have information about the pending search warrant for his family’s property. McCubbin said patrol officers normally don’t have knowledge of pending search warrants even in their own department, and he pointed out that Rogers’ disappearance is being investigated by the Nelson County Sheriff’s Office.

When contacted Thursday, Nelson County Sheriff Ed Mattingly would not comment on the status of the investigation, and said he would neither confirm nor deny if Officer Houck’s cruiser had been searched or processed for evidence.

Mattingly said the investigation continues and his detectives are still waiting on lab results from some of the possible evidence they have recovered. He said the FBI has lended assistance.

“We’re not at a point where we need to be saying anything,” Mattingly said.

The standard attempted to contact Nick Houck late Thursday but was unsuccessful.

Police say Rogers was last seen on Friday, July 3, at the Houck family farm, in the company of Brooks Houck.

Rogers was reported missing on July 5 by her parents around 2 p.m. after they say they grew concerned because they had not heard from their daughter. At around 5 p.m. Rogers’ father and brother found her vehicle on the side of the westbound Bluegrass Parkway with a flat tire. Inside were her cell phone, keys and other personal items.

The following Monday, the Sheriff’s Office held a press conference announcing she was missing and asking the public for help solving her disappearance. At that press conference, Mattingly acknowledged tensions between the boyfriend and family. He also described Houck as helpful and cooperating with the investigation.

Shortly after its discovery, family and friends began searching the area surrounding the stretch along the Bluegrass Parkway where Rogers’ car was found. Kentucky State Police and other agencies have also given support. A multitude of volunteers have joined in the search, and in recent days volunteers have shifted to other areas around the county, including the Ky. 49 area.

Houck has made limited statements to local media despite numerous attempts to contact him, but did appear on the nationally broadcast “Nancy Grace” show on July 9.

During that interview, Houck said he had last seen Rogers the evening of July 3 after they returned from the family farm when he went to bed and she was still awake playing games on her phone. He said when he awoke, she was not in the house but he was not alarmed. He said the couple has had a “stressed relationship” at times, and Rogers was known to leave for a cousin’s house to cope.

Houck told Grace he tried calling Rogers on July 4 prior to heading to a family gathering.

The family has repeatedly said to media that they question whether Brooks Houck has shared all the information he knows about Rogers’ disappearance, and do not believe she was in her car when it was abandoned on the Bluegrass.

Late Thursday afternoon, Bardstown Mayor John Royalty was asked whether the Sheriff’s Office had impounded Nick Houck’s police car, or was being questioned in the investigation.

The mayor replied in a text message that the investigation is ongoing, and he can’t talk about it.