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'Finally heading in the right direction': Special prosecutor appointed on Nelson County unsolved cases

The Kentucky Attorney General has appointed a special prosecutor to work the Jason Ellis, Crystal Rogers and Tommy Ballard cases.

NELSON COUNTY, Ky. — The Kentucky Attorney General has appointed a special prosecutor to assist in the prosecution of criminal charges related to the deaths of Jason Ellis, Crystal Rogers and Tommy Ballard. Notably, the Netherlands case is not included. 

A letter obtained by WHAS11, appoints Hardin County's Commonwealth's Attorney Shane Young as special counsel on the three cases. 

In the letter, Young is informed he will work in collaboration with the Kentucky Attorney General's office and the United States Attorney for the Western District of Kentucky. These two offices have the capability to file charges on the state and federal levels. 

The letter reads:

"This appointment shall be for the purpose of assisting this office in the prosecution, if any, of potential criminal charges related to the deaths of Jason Ellis, Crystal Rogers and Tommy Ballard, all formerly of Nelson County, Kentucky, or of any other criminal activity discovered as part of the investigations into those matters."

They are three of Kentucky's most high profile unsolved cases and are currently under investigation by the Kentucky State Police and the FBI. The FBI previously made it clear they are the lead on the Rogers' case but investigating all three.

"It is very rare to have all these cases, that are potentially connected, in a small community like Nelson County," Assistant Special Agent in Charge Brian Jones said in a 2020 interview. "I think that potentially solving any of these cases could bring resolution to the other ones."

Kathy and Samantha Netherland, the mother and daughter tortured and killed in their Nelson County home, were not mentioned in the letter. When asked why not, the Attorney General's Office said they were not asked to intervene in the Netherlands case.

This appointment replaces Nelson County Commonwealth's Attorney Terry Geoghegan, who is also copied on the letter. 

When asked about the change, a spokesperson for the Kentucky Attorney General said:

"The Office of Attorney General has made some administrative adjustments in the case in order to streamline a continued effort toward justice for the victims, their families, and the people of Nelson County. These minor alterations clarified lines of authority in order to make the combined efforts of the dedicated law enforcement officials involved more efficient in pursuing an investigation."

It was just three months ago the FBI executed a massive search warrant at the Houck family farm. Special agents used cadaver dogs and heavy machinery and focused on the back of the farm -- an area not searched previously. 

The FBI declined to provide an update on their side of the investigation, only saying the work underway right now is not for public consumption.

Rogers' mother, and Ballard widow, Sherry Ballard said she was aware of the decision to appoint a special prosecutor and applauds. 

"I have met with Mr. Young on several occasions and I do believe he is dedicated and is taking this case very serious," she said. "I feel like Tommy and Crystal's case is in excellent hands. I get so discouraged that things take so long but I do feel like we are finally headed in the right direction."

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