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Disabled Kentucky man Joseph Lawson charged in Crystal Rogers cold case


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A Kentucky man was arrested last week and charged in connection with the cold-case vanishing of Crystal Rogers eight years ago.

Joseph L. Lawson, 32, pleaded not guilty Friday in Nelson County Circuit Court to charges of criminal conspiracy to commit murder and tampering with physical evidence on or about July 3 and 4, 2015, which is when Rogers was last seen alive, WDRB reported.

Rogers, 35, was last seen alive on Fourth of July weekend 2015, when her Chevrolet Impala was found still running with her phone and purse inside in Bardstown, according to the FBI.

She was reported missing by her mother the next day.

A little over a year later, on Nov. 19, 2016, Rogers’ father, Tommy Ballard, was mysteriously shot dead while hunting on his private property.

Rogers’ disappearance and her father’s death — and possible ties between the two incidents — made national headlines in 2018, when they were the subject of the Peacock docuseries “The Disappearance of Crystal Rogers.”

It is not clear what evidence against Lawson there is, aside from the indictment.

Lawson was first indicted on the tampering charge on June 21, but the case was sealed until Thursday, local outlet WDRB said, citing court records.

The indictment on the conspiracy charge was handed down on July 24, the outlet said.

Rogers is not named in the indictment, but Lawson’s attorney, Kevin Coleman, confirmed to WDRB that his client’s case is tied to her disappearance.

“Obviously I don’t know a lot about this case at this point, but I’m sure there’s going to be lots to do,” he acknowledged.

Rogers is not named in the indictment, but Lawson’s attorney, Kevin Coleman, confirmed to WDRB that his client’s case is tied to her disappearance.

Lawson’s bond was set at $500,000 and he is due in county court again on Oct. 26.

He is paralyzed from the waist down and uses a wheelchair, and is being held alone in a cell with accommodations for handicapped inmates, WDRB reported.

The conspiracy charge indicates that prosecutors do not think Lawson acted alone, though he is the only person currently publicly charged in the eight-year-old cold case.

Just one year earlier, the father of Rogers’ youngest child, Brooks Houck, was named a suspect in her disappearance, but was ultimately never charged.

Joseph Lawson’s name did not appear in the initial investigation, though Huock namechecked an employee named Steve Lawson during an interview with police, WDRB recalled.

Steve Lawson may be Joseph Lawson’s relative, public records indicate.

In a phone call during a police interview, Houck can be heard asking Steve Lawson for help recalling a late-night conversation on the evening Rogers disappeared, the Louisville Courier Journal reported.

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