Could there be a connection among Nelson County's most infamous crimes?
A police officer killed by a sniper. A mother vanishes without a trace. Her father shot and killed. Are the cases connected?
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- It remains a mystery.
Who killed Bardstown Police officer Jason Ellis, who was gunned down in 2013 while removing tree limbs from the road on the Bluegrass Parkway?
What happened to the Nelson County mother of five, Crystal Rogers, who disappeared in 2015? Her car was found abandoned on the side of the highway with her purse and cell phone still inside.
And last November, Rogers' father Tommy Ballard was shot in the chest and killed while hunting with his grandson on their family property.
In a matter of months, Sherry Ballard lost her daughter and her husband.
"He lived every breathing moment trying to find our daughter," Sherry said of Tommy Ballard. "Trust me, it's a murder investigation. It's not a death investigation. Someone murdered my husband on purpose that day."
But so far, she's gotten very few answers.
Sherry Ballard says she believes her cases are connected to an unsolved murder.
"I think Jason Ellis' was, just for the fact of what kind of police officer he was," Sherry Ballard said. "I think deep down my daughter overheard something maybe she shouldn't have. I think she found out something she shouldn't have. I think that's what happened to her.
"I think my husband was never going to give up for my daughter, and he was going to push, and I think people knew that. I definitely think it was all connected."
Kentucky State Police detectives said it is something they've looked into.
"I have no reason at this time to believe they're connected, but it's not something that we're discarding either," Trooper Jeff Gregory said. "We're looking at all angles and trying to figure out how everything fits. If it does fit, it's not something we're not looking at every day. We look at all those cases every day, and different people are looking at them."
KSP has enlisted the help of federal authorities to investigate Ellis' murder, including the FBI, ATF and DEA. But nearly four years later, there are still no arrests.
Sherry Ballard says through it all, she worries about her safety.
"I wouldn't be human if i didn't think about it," she said. "But at this point, they took so much from me ... That's my least worry at the moment."
Police say tips on Ellis' murder still come in monthly, but even with more than $200,000 in reward money, they have slowed.
"There are people in Nelson County that have information that can put us over the top," Gregory said.
Sherry Ballard says Tommy told her he was being followed. She says he even had a surveillance camera on his truck. That video is now in the hands of KSP.
"I'm hoping they are going to look at this and notice a vehicle they noticed more than once on that camera," Sherry Ballard said. "Maybe they can go back and pull up vehicles that way to figure out who was following him."
But still almost five months later, Tommy Ballard's case isn't labeled a homicide.
"We have it listed as a death investigation just simply for the fact that there are several things that could have happened," Gregory said. "We are not ruling out it's still wasn't a hunting accident, because the evidence we have right now doesn't point to the fact that it's automatically a homicide."
KSP says whether it's a murder or a mistake, the investigation is handled the same way.
"I think with him out of the way, whoever murdered our daughter thought there was a less chance of them being caught without him pushing so much," Sherry Ballard said.
Even though she's concerned for her safety, Sherry Ballard is continuing her husband's work work, recently leading a search for Crystal that Tommy had planned before he died. She'll bring in cadaver dogs for another search next month.
"They think maybe because they did that to my husband, I'm not going to push," she said. "I will never stop looking for my daughter or finding justice for my husband or my daughter."
Each day, she looks at a picture of Tommy and Crystal that says, "Until We Meet Again."
"I just know I have people that depend on me," she said. "I have a whole town that depends on me for answers, but i have no choice but to get up and be strong."
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