Brooks Houck ‘person of interest’ early in Rogers investigation

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Reasoning includes ‘gaps’ in timeline Houck provided

By Forrest Berkshire, Editor

Brooks Houck was only last Friday officially labeled “a suspect” in the disappearance of his live-in girlfriend, Crystal Rogers, but a recently released video recording of a police interview shows detectives considered him a “person of interest” early in the investigation.

“Did I not tell you when you came in and sat down today that, right now, you’re the main person of interest?” Nelson County Sheriff’s Detective Jonathan Snow asked Houck near the end of a nearly two-hour interview on July 8.

Houck acknowledged he had been advised of investigators’ interests.

Rogers disappeared July 3, the same day she and Houck reportedly visited his family’s farm on Paschal Ballard Road.

Her family reported her missing on July 5 around 3 p.m., and her car was found on the side of the Bluegrass Parkway near mile marker 14 a couple of hours later.

July 8 marked the third time Snow had spoken with Houck, according to their conversation on the recorded interview that was made public this week.

Snow laid out his reasons to Houck for considering him the “main person of interest,” which included that Houck was the last person to have seen Rogers and “gaps” in a timeline Houck had provided him accounting for Houck’s whereabouts from July 3 to July 5.

The interview covered a wide range of issues and questions from Snow about the couple’s relationship, their activities together and other minutiae, especially during the first hour.

It is well into the second hour before Snow starts bringing up specific concerns during follow-up questions, especially at one point about a 13-second phone call Houck received around midnight July 3, when Houck says he and Crystal were in his truck together traveling from the farm to their home.

Around the 49-minute mark on the recording, Snow mentions the phone call and asks Houck who would be calling him.

Houck replies he does not recall, but suggests they call the number back to find out.

About 40 minutes later, Houck dials the number and a man answers who reportedly works for Houck. Houck places the call on speaker phone so that Snow can hear the conversation.

After some small talk, Houck asks the man if he remembers placing the call, and he replies that he remembers it. The man says he called and asked Houck for some numbers related to rental homes Houck owns. The man relates that Houck had told him that Rogers normally handled that information, and Houck would have to call her to get the information the man was seeking.

Snow pauses for several seconds after the call ends, then voices his concerns.

“That begs the question: If she’s in the truck next to you when he called, why would you need to call her about getting numbers for rental property?”

Houck said Rogers normally wouldn’t deal with such matters so late at night.

“Why would you need to call her? That’s an odd phrase for someone who is sitting next to you in the truck,” Snow says.

Houck agrees it is an odd phrase, but does not deny he said it.

“If that right there is what I told him, that right there’s what I told him,” Houck says.

Snow remains silent for almost a minute after Houck’s explanation, and then shifts the line of questioning.

Snow also expresses other concerns with Houck’s version of events during the interview.

“The gaps in time become really important to me,” he tells Houck at one point.

He asks Houck why he had placed only a couple of calls to Rogers’ phone between Saturday morning, when Houck said he woke in the morning and she was gone, and Sunday.

“I know that sometimes in the past, if I’ve called and blowed her phone up, it made it worse,” Houck said.

He also says he finds it odd that Houck would not feel alarmed if he woke up and Rogers was gone.

“If I woke up on a Saturday morning and my wife wasn’t in the bed … the first thing I would do would be to call her,” Snow says.

Brooks replies that Crystal was known to stay out late with her friends at times. Yet, later in the interview, he says she did not stay out late very often.

Snow also questions some text messages between Rogers and a friend alluding to having a babysitter for Friday night, which Houck says he has no knowledge of.

And, Snow says that he finds it odd that bloodhounds found no trace of Rogers’ scent near the abandoned car, despite the dogs tracking her from Houck and Rogers’ home to the farm.

“They said it was as though she was not even there,” Snow says to Houck. “It’s just very odd to me.”

“Unless she was never in the car.”

The video recording was obtained through an open records request filed with the City of Bardstown following the firing of Houck’s brother, Nick Houck, from the Bardstown Police Department. Nick Houck was fired Friday on several charges, including tampering with the investigation, related to a call he made to his brother during the interview.

No one has been charged with any crimes, although following a press conference called by the city of Bardstown announcing the firing of Nick Houck, Nelson County Sheriff Ed Mattingly announced Brooks Houck as a suspect in Rogers’ disappearance.

The Sheriff’s Office has been investigating her disappearance for more than three months, and has not publicly released any updates on the investigation.