Who’s worse than a killer-buyer? How about a killer-stealer?
ONEONTA, Alabama––If horse thieves were still hanged, Fallon Danielle “Kelly” Blackwood on May 23, 2023 might have been condemned to hang as many as 63 times for allegedly stealing at least 63 horses by fraud, even though one hanging would have done the job.
Instead, Blackwood––one day before her long awaited trial––pleaded guilty to reduced charges including one Class C felony count of bringing property into Alabama under false pretenses, and 12 misdemeanor counts of the same offense, and walked out of the courtroom without a rope around her neck, without handcuffs, and without serving so much as a day in prison despite having become perhaps the most prolific convicted horse thief of the 21st century.
60 months on probation & no horses
“Some of the 13 victims [named] in the case watched Blackwood plead guilty in the Blount County, Alabama courthouse, others by Zoom,” reported Randy Travis of FOX 5 in Atlanta.
Travis has followed the long-evolving case since 2018, one of the longest rides after a horse thief ever by someone whose own horse was not stolen.
Blackwood, of Boaz, Alabama, “was sentenced to 60 months on probation and ordered not to have any contact with horses during that time,” Travis summarized.
Blackwood, 28, is also to pay her victims “thousands of dollars in restitution,” Travis added.
“Slaughtered in Mexico”
“Blount County district attorney Pamela Casey said Blackwood was sentenced to 31 months in prison and one year on each misdemeanor charge,” elaborated Carol Robinson of AL.com, “but the sentence was suspended, and she was placed on five years of supervised probation.
“Casey said she could not say what happened to the horses after Blackwood took possession of them,” Robinson added, “but Stolen Horse International NetPosse believes she sold them to killer buyers in the horse auction business. Most of the horses are believed to have been slaughtered in Mexico for meat.”
Altogether, Robinson continued, 63 horses from six states allegedly taken by Fallon Blackwood under false pretenses were reported to Stolen Horse International NetPosse before she was charged.
Stolen Horse International NetPosse, “has since learned of a great many other horses taken by Fallon Blackwood,” Robinson added.
“I quivered like a leaf & broke down in tears”
Offered Lindsay Rosentrater, who was one of Fallon Blackwood’s first victims, via Facebook after Fallon Blackwood’s plea bargain sentence was finalized, “It was a very long and emotional day. I had two panic attacks but was able to (mostly) keep it together in the courtroom. Hearing them go through the counts individually, one by one, was excruciatingly painful,” Rosenstrater admitted. “And then they got to Willie,” formerly Rosentrater’s horse.
“I quivered like a leaf and broke down in tears,” Rosentrater said. “I was able to give a victim impact statement to Fallon. She looked at me for about 10 seconds then proceeded to turn her back. I don’t know if she heard my words, but I know the judge did.
“Waking up this morning, there is a sense of relief and I feel a little bit lighter,” Rosentrater posted. “We got a piece of justice, right? But I along with the other victims still do not know where our horses landed. We still do not have a definitive answer or closure.
“Part of me feels sad for Fallon”
“A part of me feels sad for Fallon,” Rosentrater acknowledged. “She is going to have to go home and find new homes for her horses, which naturally concerns me, but the part that really hits me is she will have to tell her daughter that they cannot have horses for a while.
“Ironically, I know Fallon and I have daughters very close in age,” Rosentrater said. “My daughter is my carbon copy and is absolutely horse crazy. If I had to go home and tell our daughter that we have to say goodbye to her ponies, it would absolutely shatter her heart. I hate to think that Fallon’s innocent daughter will suffer the cost of her own mother’s poor choices and deceit.”
But Rosentrater is not done pursuing Fallon Blackwood––not yet.
“I still have a civil case with Fallon in the state of Georgia, so this is not the final chapter,” Rosenstrater promised, thanking her lawyer, Lynley Edwards, and “Debi Metcalfe at Stolen Horse International Netposse and the NetPosse team for helping bring this to light and providing a source of support for all of the victims.”
Blackwood allegedly began her career in horse theft as a Tuskegee Veterinary College student and sometime rodeo barrel racer circa 2018.
Her father Glenn Blackwood, remembered in his obituary as an “avid horseman,” had died at age 62 in 2014, when Fallon Blackwood was 19.
Why Fallon Blackwood, who is Caucasian, elected to seek a veterinary degree from Tuskegee, a historically African-American institution in Macon County, Alabama, is unclear, especially since the Auburn University School of Veterinary Medicine, in Auburn, Alabama, charges lower tuition.
Tuskegee, however, trains mainly agricultural veterinarians, whereas Auburn is better known for training dog and cat vets.
Busted at rodeo
Fallon Blackwood may have anticipated a career treating hoofed animals. However, though Fallon Blackwood reportedly did complete her veterinary degree from Tuskegee, she is not licensed to practice in Alabama, and now may never be licensed in any state due to her single felony conviction.
On the other hand, Fallon Blackwood might be able to shake her past under a married name––if she completes her five-year probation.
Then age 24, Fallon Blackwood was arrested by Blount County sheriff’s deputies at a rodeo in Oneonta, Alabama on January 12, 2019, on a 13-count indictment issued in October 2018.
Also busted at Tuskegee
Blackwood was previously arrested at the Tuskegee veterinary school in April 2018, and was briefly jailed, on a North Carolina warrant charging her with horse theft by fraud.
“According to NetPosse, a non-profit that tracks horse theft, 21 people across the Southeast have now complained that Fallon Blackwood also took their horses under false pretenses,” summarized Randy Travis at the time.
Eight of the alleged victims did not participate in the Alabama prosecution.
Fallon Blackwood apparently hunted for horses offered “free to good home” on Facebook or Craigslist, telling the owners that she was seeking a companion for her barrel racing horse.
If the former horse owners later contacted Fallon Blackwood, asking how the horses were, she told them stories such as that they had been struck by lightning and died.
“The case took life”
Mostly, Fallon Blackwood got away with it
“The case took life,” posted NetPosse, “after Lindsay Rosentrater, then living in Roswell, Georgia, told her story on social media after learning of [her horse] Willie’s fate while in Blackwood’s possession.
“Rosentrater checked on Willie often,” NetPosse recounted. “It wasn’t until Blackwood refused to send requested photos of Willie that she became suspicious and worried. Her suspicions of wrongdoing were later confirmed.”
Rosentrater was the first to describe Fallon Blackwood and her modus operandi to Stolen Horse International NetPosse, a 25-year-old nonprofit organization headquartered in Shelby, North Carolina, that functions as a registry for lost and stolen animals, chiefly horses but also a variety of others.
“Defense would hope everyone has forgotten”
“Five years ago, this case was on everyone’s tongue, and a timely trial would [have filled] the court with press and many concerned horse lovers,” Stolen Horse International NetPosse posted, shortly before Fallon Blackwood accepted the last-minute plea bargain that averted her long anticipated trial.
“After many years of delays,” Stolen Horse International NetPosse suggested, “a defense team in this type of case would hope everyone has forgotten and that a lack of court attendance would show that only a few people care about horses.
“Please help us keep this from happening,” Stolen Horse International NetPosse asked activists.
That did not happen, but Fallen Blackwood nonetheless got a very light sentence by historical standards.