Sunday, July 24, 2022

The Murders of Kathy and Samantha Netherland

 

Kathy Netherland (48) and her daughter Samantha Netherland (16) were found brutally murdered inside their Bardstown, Kentucky home on April 22nd, 2014. The two were found by Kathy's father Norris Hardin, after he was notified that Kathy had not shown up for work. When Norris arrived at their home, he peered through the window and saw Kathy on the floor of the dining room. He ran around back and saw Samantha. Police were called, and first responders immediately rushed to the scene.

Both Kathy and Samantha were brutally beaten, and their throats were slit. Autopsies confirmed that Kathy died from several gunshot wounds, while Samantha had been bludgeoned and stabbed to death. The brutal murders of the mother and daughter shocked the community in Bardstown. Those who knew Kathy and Samantha have struggled to understand why anyone would kill them. Kathy was a beloved special education teacher Bardstown Elementary. Samantha was a quiet, smart, and kind young girl who enjoyed singing in her high school choir. She was looking forward to attending junior prom with her first boyfriend. By all accounts, Kathy and Samantha were great people who were loved by many. 

Unfortunately, the deaths of Kathy and Samantha were not the only tragedy that the family had faced in recent years. Less than a year earlier, in July 2013, Kathy's husband Bob Netherland died of colon cancer. This left Samantha and the Netherland's older daughter, Holly, without a father. After Kathy and Samantha were killed, Holly was left without her both of her parents and her sister. 

Over the years, there has been a lot of speculation about who killed Kathy and Samantha, and why. Theories have ranged from someone known to them being the perpetrator, to their killings being part of an ongoing series of corruption in the town of Bardstown. 

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The family.

It's safe to say that anyone familiar with true crime knows that in a murder investigation, detectives often look first at those closest to the victims. In many cases, it is not unusual for a spouse and/or significant other to end up being involved. However, Kathy's husband/Samantha and Holly's father passed away months before Kathy and Samantha were killed. Kathy had not began dating anyone new since her husband's passing. Samantha's boyfriend was also just a sophomore in high school at the time of the murder, and he was cleared of suspicion.

According to Kathy's sister, Stacy Hibbard, the only person with something to gain from the deaths of Kathy and Samantha is Holly Netherland. After Bob Netherland passed away, Kathy raised her life insurance so both Holly and Samantha could be covered if something happened to her. Additionally, Kathy and Holly had an, at times, volatile relationship. Just two days before the murders of her mother and sister, Holly tweeted, "Ur words went way too far this time ull b lucky if I decide to come home."

Still, there is no known evidence that Holly's troubles with her family were not just typical troubles that many older teens/young adults have with their parents. According to Stacy Hibbard, Holly was actually unaware that Kathy had raised her life insurance policy prior to her death - which rules out money being a motive for Holly to want her mother and sister gone. Reports state that Holly was heavily scrutinized by police, but has never been arrested or even publicly named as a suspect. 

Stacy told reporters that Holly has been ruled out as a suspect, but police have not confirmed this. When reporters asked police if Holly was ruled out, an officer responded, "We’re not going to say whether there’s any potential suspects or we’ve ruled anybody out. Everybody continues to remain a possible suspect.”

Potential gang-related activity.

In 2018, reports began to surface about the murders of Kathy and Samantha potentially being gang-related. That same year, a docu-series about another young woman from Bardstown aired, titled The Disappearance of Crystal Rogers. The series investigates the disappearance of a young woman named Crystal, but it also touches on numerous other unsolved crimes in Bardstown.

During the finale of the docu-series, Stephanie Bauer spoke an anonymous inmate who said that the murders of Kathy and Samantha were part of a gang initiation. While Kathy and Samantha themselves did not have any known connection to gangs, the anonymous inmate claimed they were killed by people being initiated into a gang. 

When the reporter asked how he knew it was an initiation, he explained that a cellphone jammer was placed by the Netherland's front door to kill all the cellphone signal in the house. He also explained, "I know they was tortured. I know that they were tied to their chairs. I know that one of 'em had her throat slit. They was stabbed, and one was shot. I know that trinkets were taken as trophies."

The Netherland home. (wave3.com)

Reporters also spoke to Holly, who could not confirm the rumors about the gang initiation - but she said that it was certainly a possibility. When the reporters mentioned the cellphone jammer, Holly was particularly struck by this detail. She explained, "I mean, that would explain why they didn't get a call off because I know my mom always had a phone in her hand. Samantha, she ... I'd like to think that if something happened to Mom that she would have tried to get a call off. ... She would have had [a cellphone]."

Investigators have never confirmed the gang initiation theory. When these reports first surfaced in 2018, the Kentucky State Police said they were investigating these claims. It's unclear if they are still following these leads to present day.

The car.

On the evening of Kathy and Samantha's murders, a black Chevy Impala was captured on surveillance footage. According to reports, the car was traveling north on U.S. 150 from Botland into Bardstown. The car was also captured near the Netherland home that night. Police believe that the person(s) inside that vehicle are either responsible for the murders or know who committed the murders.

The black Chevy Impala.

Police have never located the car, or the driver. Still, the Kentucky police are adamant that the occupants of the vehicle witnessed something on the night Kathy and Samantha were killed. In 2019, a trooper is quoted saying, "whoever was in that car was in that house during the time this crime was committed."

Link to other unsolved cases. 

A little less than a year before Kathy and Samantha were killed, another Bardstown local was murdered: Jason Ellis, a Bardstown police officer. 


Ellis was driving home on May 25th, 2013, when police say he was ambushed. In a description from WAVE 3, "[Ellis] was taking Exit 34 off the Bluegrass Parkway where he stopped to remove tree branches blocking his path. The killer is believed to have shot him from a nearby hill."

Many speculated that the murders of Kathy and Samantha were related to Ellis' murder. Ellis reportedly had a son with down's syndrome, and there was speculation that said son was one was Kathy's students. This connection does not explain why Kathy, Samantha, and Ellis all ended up murdered - but it was certainly worth noting to investigators. Since none of the above have been solved, the potential connection between the three murders has not yet been ruled out.

Two years after these murders, another mystery occurred in Bardstown. This time, it was a disappearance. A 35 year-old mother named Crystal Rogers vanished on July 3rd, 2015. 


Crystal was last seen at her home, where she lived with her boyfriend, Brooks Houck, their two-year-old son, and her other four children. According to Brooks, Crystal was playing games on her phone when he went to bed on the evening of July 3rd, 2015. When he awoke the next morning, both Crystal and her car were gone. She has never been seen or heard from again.

Brooks is a suspect in the case, but he has never been arrested or charged with anything related to Crystal's case. As previously mentioned, Crystal's case was the subject of a docu-series on Oxygen. The murders of Kathy and Samantha were mentioned and discussed on the show, as the series touches on the various unsolved crimes in Bardstown. 

The series also mentions the murder of Jason Ellis, as Ellis was a Bardstown police officer. Also a Bardstown town police officer: Nick Houck - brother of Brooks Houck. Nick Houck was eventually fired from the police force after allegedly interfering with the investigation into Crystal's disappearance. 

Sixteen months after Crystal vanished, her father, Tommy Ballard, was shot and killed by an unknown gunmen. He was hunting with his grandson on family property when he was struck in the chest. The grandson has been ruled out in the case, but no other suspects have been named.

From the years of 2013-2016, several murders and a disappearance occurred in the small community of Bardstown. There is inevitable suspicion that all cases are related - as they all remain unsolved - but this has yet to be confirmed. Due to the number of police officers involved in the various cases, there is speculation that the reason none of these cases have been solved is because there is corruption happening amongst the police force. 

Where the Netherland case stands today.

As of 2022, the murders of Kathy and Samantha Netherland remain unsolved. There is a $50,000 reward available for information that could lead to the killer(s). If you have any information that could help the investigation, please call Kentucky State Police at 270-766-5078.

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