HUSTONVILLE — A series of chilling events, starting with the sudden death of Crystal Hager in January and culminating with the discovery of a body on their property last Friday, have hit much too close to the Lincoln County home of James Sizemore and his mother Serenna Sizemore.
The common denominator in all of it is Crystal Hager's former husband, Thomas Wayne Hager, Jr., who also lived in the trailer a short distance from the Sizemore's home at 55 Fairlane Ave. in Hustonville.
When the Sizemores read reports Hager, 39, had confessed to killing Mark Snyder, 21, of Waynesburg and Ted Sparks, 54, of Danville last month, they thought twice about Crystal's death from an apparent prescription pill overdose. Then last week, police found the body of Clint Disken, 31, the man who had moved in with Hager to the trailer on the Sizemore’s property.
"I wish they would take another look at it (Crystal Hager's death), to see if maybe she's the fourth," said James Sizemore, Crystal’s brother.
On May 21, Hager allegedly shot Snyder and Sparks to death and seriously injured Philip White, 37, of Lancaster in Sparks' home on High Street in Danville. Hager has been charged with two counts of murder, one count of attempted murder and one count of tampering with evidence in what Danville police say was a drug-related killing.
He has not been charged or named as a suspect in Disken's death, but Hager apparently was the last person to see the Mercer County native alive. Disken's body was found Friday, May 25, in the cellar of a barn behind the trailer. The cause of his death has not been determined.
It was the second time the Lincoln County Coroner was called to the property in 2012.
Shortly before 3 p.m. on Jan. 16, Crystal Hager, 32, was found dead on the floor of her home. Thomas Hager apparently found her and called 911. According to reports at the time, Hager said he had been sleeping and when he woke up he couldn't find his wife.
Hager told authorities he left the trailer to look for Crystal and found her unresponsive on the floor next to the couch when he returned. She apparently had been dead for an extended period of time.
Lincoln County Coroner Farris Marcum said the scene didn’t suggest a struggle and there was no significant reason from examining the body to suspect foul play at the time of the death. There was a small cut above Crystal Hager's eye, which appeared consistent with an unconscious fall from the couch, where she was apparently laying, onto the floor.
Hager sat in silence throughout most of the time authorities were at the scene, except to answer questions, Marcum said.
No criminal investigation was ever initiated and foul play was not evident at the scene, but Marcum said he ordered a full autopsy and toxicology report to be sure. Following an autopsy by the state medical examiner and review of a toxicology report, the death was ruled an accident and attributed to an overdose on prescription medications.
The medical examiner's report found no injuries other than the small contusions Marcum had noticed. They also found no signs of trauma or suffocation, which often causes a redness in the eye.
Among the drugs found in Crystal Hager's system were an anti-anxiety medication, typically used to treat insomnia, and an antidepressant. She had a alcohol concentration of .28 percent (Kentucky's legal limit for the purposes of operating a motor vehicle is .08).
Her overall health profile, including her weight and chronic prescription drug use, combined with the mixture of drugs and alcohol, pointed to an accidental death, Marcum said. He also noted there would be no way of knowing if the dosages were administered.
Serenna Sizemore and other family members have been suspicious about the death since the day it happened, in large part because of the timing.
Crystal Hager was not found to be taking any prescription pain killers at the time of her death, but she had struggled with abusing them over the years. According to Serenna, Crystal had just spent two months in jail on drug charges before staying a week at Ephraim McDowell Regional Medical Center for further drug rehabilitation.
Crystal returned home from the hospital and died the next day.
Serenna said for the first time in a long time her daughter was off drugs and not inclined to do something to harm herself or her chances at sobriety. She said Crystal's probation prohibited her from being under the influence of substances that included alcohol, and she faced up to three years in jail if she violated the terms.
On the morning of the day Crystal's body was found, Serenna said she had called the trailer multiple times, but got no answer. She was on the way home from Walmart when she said Hager called her and told her flatly Crystal was dead.