Horse owners trusted Fallon Blackwood.
When they were in a bind and needed someone to look after their horse for a while, or wanted to give an old mare a nice place to live out her last days, they thought they’d found an answer in the third-year veterinary student at Tuskegee University in Alabama.
A dozen reports sent to the site NetPosse.com, which tracks missing and stolen horses, all tell similar stories of alleged encourangers with Blackwood.
“I was going through a very difficult personal time and needed to find a temporary home for my horses,” one report reads. “I talked to her on several occasions and she told me she was a vet student and would take excellent care of them.”
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“He was going to a new home with the agreement that it would be a forever retirement home where he would be used as a pasture mate only,” another report described.
“My house burned down so I was forced to rehome my mare in an emergency and the girl that I spoke with promised me my mare would have a great retirement home,” reads another.
If their stories of how they came to give away their horses are similar, the stories of their growing suspicions are as well.
Owners asked for pictures and would receive old ones, or, more often, would eventually get no response at all. “She told one horse owner that both horses were struck by lightning and died,” Pam Miller of NetPosse, told Fox 5.
Report after report of missing horses finally led to a warrant for Blackwood’s arrest issued out of North Carolina, where she was charged with receiving property under false pretense. Police took her into custody on campus in Alabama, according to a statement from the university, published by WRBL.
“Slaughtered to potentially be made into dog food is what is believed to have happened to some of the horses that landed in Blackwood’s possession,” Macon County Sheriff Andre Brunson told WTVM.
A North Carolina woman told Fox 46 she regrets giving Blackwood her cancer-stricken horse to use as a companion animal. “Some days I pray that Willie isn't alive anymore because I can't imagine the nightmare he's currently living,” she told the station.
“I am heart broken. Sick. Disgusted. Infuriated. I thought I was doing right by my horse by giving him to a home that would be able to provide him with the attention and care I felt he deserved,” another alleged victim told NetPosse. “I have had horses in my life for over 20 years now and even as an avid horse lover, I was deceived.”
Tuskegee University released a statement saying the university’s police force had assisted in Fallon’s arrest when notified of the warrant by the Alabama Bureau of Investigations, but that it could not comment on the case any further, citing student privacy laws and the right to due process.
“It's just a shame something like this would happen and somebody would be this cruel, if this is what happened,” says Brunson told WTVM.
Where the missing horses are now is still anybody’s guess. Reporters asked Blackwood to reveal where the horses might be as she was escorted to a hearing by Sheriff Brunson, but she remained silent.