TUSKEGEE, Ala. - Horse lovers in Georgia and across the Southeast accuse an Alabama woman of pulling a horrible scam. They tell police they were tricked into giving away their horse because they were each promised it was going to a good home.
Instead, they fear the horses may have been ultimately sold for slaughter.
Fallon Blackwood, 23, sits in a Macon County, Alabama jail awaiting extradition to North Carolina on a felony charge. She's become Enemy No. 1 for horse lovers like Lindsay Rosentrator.
"That does give me a little bit of hope that we're moving in the right direction," Lindsay agreed.
The Roswell woman told police she posted an ad on Facebook and Craigslist in January offering her horse Willie as a free "pasture mate." Lindsay worried his advanced age and health issues were making Willie miserable, especially with no other horses in his pasture. She called him her "gentle giant."
“He loved being around other horses and other people," she remembered, describing the horse she got on her 17th birthday. "His time wasn’t up."
Shortly after placing her ad, Lindsay says she got a response that seemed heaven-sent. A message from Fallon Blackwood, who said she was looking for a companion for her barrel horse in Alabama.
“She told me she was in vet school," remembered Lindsay. "She asked me all the right questions. I just felt very comfortable.”
Lindsay says she drew up a contract and had Fallon sign, then off Willie went to his new Alabama home. But something didn’t feel right to Lindsay. She says Fallon wouldn’t send her some promised pictures of Willie who was supposed to be happily adjusting to his new perfect life.
Then Lindsay discovered other horse owners with the same perfect story.
“I realized this problem was a lot larger than just me," she explained.
It sure was. The FOX 5 I-Team reviewed multiple police reports filed by people across the Southeast who gave Fallon their horse, too, each being told the horse would be a great companion for Fallon’s barrel horse on her farm near Boaz, Alabama.
So where are they?
According to NetPosse, a non-profit that tracks horse theft, 21 people across the Southeast have now complained Fallon Blackwood also took their horses under false pretenses. That's 32 horses in all. Some of the owners told police that when they asked for pictures, Fallon replied their horse had suffered a terrible accident.
“She told one horse owner that both horses were struck by lightning and died.” pointed out Pam Miller of NetPosse.
Ironically, the one thing Fallon told owners that may be the hardest to believe is actually true. She really is listed as a third-year vet student at Tuskegee University. And that put the historic college in a difficult spot.
Even though horse owners say they bombarded the school with complaints, Fallon Blackwood continued taking classes in spite of the controversy. But this week, when police in North Carolina issued a felony warrant for her arrest on a horse there, authorities picked her up on campus and booked her into the Macon County jail.
She will be extradited back to North Carolina to face a charge of obtaining property by false pretenses.
But the question remains. Where are all those horses? NetPosse says their biggest fear is many of them could have been sold at auction, and then to a slaughterhouse.
"It's really sickening what could be happening to these horses," warned Miller of NetPosse.
Lindsay Rosentrator fears the worst.
“Some days I pray that Willie isn’t alive anymore because I can’t imagine the nightmare he’s currently living.”
Tuskegee University later issued the following statement:
On the morning of Tuesday, April 3, the Alabama Bureau of Investigations notified the Tuskegee University Police Department that a warrant had been issued for Fallon Blackwood, a student at Tuskegee University. The warrant issued in North Carolina claimed that Ms. Blackwood obtained property — specifically, two horses — under fall pretense, and included a request for full extradition. The Tuskegee University Police Department immediately executed the warrant in cooperation with ABI agents while Ms. Blackwood was on university property, and transferred her to the Macon County Sheriff’s Department for processing. As noted in a previous statement issued by the university on March 7, Tuskegee University remains committed to cooperating fully with law enforcement agencies on any ensuing investigations. Because of the current legal status of the matter, in accordance with student privacy laws, and in deference to Ms. Blackwood’s rights to due process, the university cannot comment further on matter. All inquiries should be directed to the Martin County Sheriff’s Office in Williamston, North Carolina, for updates on the status of the investigation.