A Kentucky man has been charged in connection with the death of Crystal Rogers, a mother-of-five who vanished without a trace during the Fourth of July weekend in 2015.
Joseph Lawson, 32, was arraigned in Nelson Circuit Court on Thursday where he pleaded not guilty to charges of criminal conspiracy to commit murder and complicity in tampering with physical evidence. His bond was set at $500,000 cash.
The conspiracy to commit murder charge was filed 24 July and the charge of tampering with evidence was filed in June, according to Nelson County circuit court documents.
Ms Rogers was not mentioned by name in the indictment, but Attorney Kevin Coleman, who represents Mr Lawson, acknowledged his client’s case is in relation to the mother’s death, according to WRDB. He declined to comment further.
Mr Lawson has not been charged with Ms Rogers’ murder, but instead faces a conspiracy charge which means prosecutors believe he was involved in some way.
The indictment states that on July 3, 2015, and/or July 4 2015, “the above-named Defendant, committed the offense of Criminal Conspiracy to Commit Murder, when, with the intention of promoting or facilitating the crime, when he agreed to aid one or more persons in the planning or commission of the crime or an attempt or solicitation to commit the crime, when he, and/or a co-conspirator, intentionally caused the death of another.”
Ms Rogers has not been seen or heard from since the evening of 3 July 2015. Her red Chevrolet Impala was found abandoned the same day at mile marker 14 on Bluegrass Parkway. The car had a flat tire and inside were her keys, phone and purse, according to the FBI’s office in Louisville.
Her boyfriend at the time, Brooks Houck, who is also the father to her youngest child, was named a suspect just months after she went missing, but has never been charged. He’s considered to be the last person who saw her alive.
Several homes in Bardstown, Kentucky have been searched over the years, including the homes of Houck family farm, the homes of Mr Houck and his brother, Nick, and a storage unit belonging to Ms Rogers.
Her case was transferred from the Nelson County Sheriff’s Office to Kentucky State Police the FBI took it over in 2020.
The FBI is also investigating the death of her father, Tommy Ballard, who was shot and killed in 2016 while hunting on his own property more than a year after his daughter went missing.
In January 2023, Attorney General Daniel Cameron appointed a special prosecutor to investigate both Ms Rogers and Mr Ballard’s deaths.
The FBI searched a farm in Bardstown that is own by Ms Rogers then-boyfriend’s family. It was believed to be one of the last places Ms Rogers was last seen before she went missing.