Around dawn on November 19, 2016, Tommy Ballard was hunting on family property in Bardstown, Kentucky, with his young grandson when he was fatally shot by an unknown person. The Nelson County Coroner Rayfield Houghlin later revealed that Tommy, the 54-year-old father of missing mother of five Crystal Rogers, died from a single gunshot wound to the chest. To this day, the shooting remains unsolved.
Though authorities have not classified Tommy's death as a homicide, his family believes it was no accident.
Tommy's wife, Sherry Ballard, told radio station WDRB that in the weeks before Tommy's death, he thought he was being followed.
Sherry said, “I think someone wanted my husband out of the way because we were getting close to Crystal, and they knew he was the driving force behind her."
Tommy's son, Casey Ballard, told Oxygen's docu-series "The Disappearance of Crystal Rogers," "The way I think of it, I feel like if they thought they got rid of him, everything would get brushed underneath the table because he was the main force. He was the one paying for all the searches. He was the one out there pushing it, and they thought, ‘Well, if we get rid of him, then everything’s done. We won’t have to worry nothing anymore. And plus, it’ll shut everybody up because it’ll make them scared.”
In the two-hour premiere of "The Disappearance of Crystal Rogers," reporter Stephanie Bauer, retired homicide detective Dwayne Stanton, Casey Ballard and retired ATF special agent Jim Cavanaugh visited the site of Tommy's death.
Casey walked the team through his father's shooting and showed Cavanaugh, a ballistics expert, a section of brush surrounding his family's property that had been sawed down to create a clearing. Though Casey believed the clearing might have been made by his father's killer, Cavanaugh theorized it was a surveillance port.
"This ain't a shooting port. [...] So what they did was, they cut this open before Tommy was shot [...] so they could monitor him," he said. Cavanaugh explained one person could have been the lookout and another the shooter, and Tommy's death might have been the result of a more elaborate assassination plot.
While walking back through the woods, Cavanaugh noticed an even more illuminating piece of evidence — the kickback mark from a gun on a tree. The team realized that from that vantage point, it was a perfect shot to where Tommy was gunned down two years ago.
Cavanaugh told Casey, "It's hard for the troopers to say this because of the responsibility they have to bear in the case, but as a cop almost 40 years, I can tell you, it's not an accident — it's an assassination of your daddy."
Again, police have not ruled out the possibility that Tommy's death was the result of a hunting accident.
To learn more about the case and the Ballard family, watch “The Disappearance of Crystal Rogers” on Oxygen.
Tips on Rogers' case can be made to the Nelson County Sheriff’s Office at 502-348-1840.