Missing woman’s children, mom sue murder suspect boyfriend for ‘suffering’ of her last moments


Brooks Houck, Crystal Rogers

Brooks Houck (Oldham County Detention Center mug shot from Dec. 13, 2023), Crystal Rogers (Nelson County Sheriff’s Office)

Four of Crystal Rogers’ children and her mother filed a wrongful death lawsuit on Monday against Kentucky murder defendant Brooks Houck, the father of Rogers’ youngest child and the victim’s boyfriend at the time the Bardstown mom of five was last seen alive during the summer of 2015.

The suit, filed in Nelson County Circuit Court, was brought by Kyleigh Fenwick, Ashley Miller, Thomas Rogers, and Victoria Rogers, each of whom was a minor on that fateful day of July 3, 2015. Sherry Ballard, the mother of Crystal Rogers and administratrix of her daughter’s estate, was the lead plaintiff against Brooks Houck, now 42, alleging that he “intentionally and wrongfully caused the death” of Rogers and should, therefore, be forced to pay damages for “necessary funeral, monument and administrative expenses,” for Rogers’ “[p]hysical pain and mental suffering” in her last moments, and for the victim’s lost earnings and loss of enjoyment of life.

“The Defendant’s actions against Crystal M. Rogers were committed willfully, with oppression, fraud, or malice, warranting an award of punitive damages, to punish the Defendant and deter the Defendant and others from similar acts in the future,” the lawsuit said. “As a result of the intentional actions of the Defendant, Brooks W. Houck, the decedent, Crystal M. Rogers, lost her life and suffered individually all damages herein complained of addition to those claimed for and on behalf of her estate.”

As Law&Crime reported in late September, Brooks Houck was arrested and charged with murder more than eight years after Crystal Rogers was last seen alive.

According to the FBI, Rogers’ mother reported her 35-year-old daughter missing on July 5, 2015 after not hearing from her for more than a day.

“The same day Rogers was reported missing, her car was found abandoned with a flat tire at mile marker 14 on the Bluegrass Parkway in Bardstown, Kentucky. Rogers’ keys, phone, and purse were still inside her red Chevrolet Impala. Rogers is the mother of five children and is not known to go anywhere without her children,” the FBI said in a missing person alert, which ended with a link to the Nov. 19, 2016, shooting death of Crystal Rogers’ father, Tommy Ballard. Ballard, 54, died “instantly” after he was shot that November, just 16 months after his daughter vanished.

Ballard was “preparing for a hunting trip with his 12-year-old grandson on family property next to Bluegrass Parkway in Bardstown, Kentucky,” the FBI said. “An unknown subject fired one shot and hit Ballard in the chest and instantly killed him.”

Tommy Ballard

Tommy Ballard (FBI photo)

No one has been charged in Tommy Ballard’s death and Crystal Rogers’ body has not been found.

Hardin County Commonwealth’s Attorney Shane Young, appointed as special counsel in the Crystal Rogers case, in October suggested that the defendant could be implicated in Ballard’s death, too, by a rifle sale linked to his brother, a former police officer.

“That could potentially be related to this case,” Young said. “We are waiting for testing to come back on the firearm we believe was used to murder Tommy Ballard, the firearm that was purchased from Nicholas Houck, who was using a fake name when he sold the rifle.”

More Law&Crime coverage: Lawyer for 3rd person arrested in Crystal Rogers disappearance hints at possible murder-for-hire plot

Though Nick Houck has not been charged, the special counsel alleged in October that he and other family members “secretly brought in recorders and recorded the grand jury” investigating Crystal Rogers’ disappearance and presumed death.

“The question is why,” the special counsel said. “I think everyone in this courtroom knows why: to make sure everyone’s story is consistent.”

While Steven Lawson and Joseph Lawson, a father and son, have also been arrested in the case and charged with conspiracy to commit murder and tampering with physical evidence after Rogers’ disappearance, the Rogers family lawsuit only names Houck as a defendant.

In addition to the wrongful death claim, the lawsuit brought loss of consortium counts for each of the four children named as plaintiffs.

Each child “lost the love, affection, guidance, services, assistance, society, car, aid, support, comfort, protection, and parental consortium” of their mother, thus they are entitled to damages for the “intentionally and wrongfully” caused death of Crystal Rogers, the suit said.

The plaintiffs sought a jury trial, attorney’s fees and costs, and punitive damages.

Brooks Houck remains behind bars at the Oldham County Detention Center, where he was booked as recently as Dec. 13 following a move out of Hardin County.

Law&Crime reached out to the plaintiff lawyer and two of Brooks Houck’s attorneys for comment on the suit. Read the court documents here.

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