Rick Bell defends wife Laura; condemns Michelle Knutilla for sabotaging their horse rescue efforts

By Rick Bell

It has been interesting, but honestly also sad, that my wife Laura and I continue to be defamed because of staged photos and untrue statement by a malignant narcissist and sociopath like Michelle Knuttila.

For the past 25 years, we have run a primarily self-funded horse rescue that has been involved in one way or another in the rescue and adoption of thousands of horses. Less than 1% of our expenses come from donations.

When we find ourselves in the possession of very sick horses, we treat them and make them well, whatever it takes.

When Michelle Knuttila attacked us, she had previously been made aware that we had several horses that were severely sick. They looked horrible. They were however being treated, and after several months of treatment they recovered and still thrive today. We didn’t shoot the horses because they got sick. We contacted our vet and started aggressively treating them.

Sure, our facility was ramshackle at best. The property was owned by a deceased relative and we were preparing to move. We stop doing costly maintenance to save money to relocate. Our horses now have our property, plus hundreds of acres of neighbor’s property to roam freely on.

Unfortunately, the attack in 2013 caused us to spend thousands of dollars that should have been spent on the sick horses and delayed our move. When we were attacked, we had about 20 sick or chronic horses. They were all regularly seen by our vet. We also had 50 other horses that looked great.

Michelle never showed the good looking horses and claimed that every horse on the property looked emaciated.

Romney Snyder, writing for Michelle, said they didn’t want the sick horse and they should stay with us. She also wasn’t asking for our fat and sasses. They wanted all of our young horses that they could sell or shoot after raising thousands of dollars to rescue them. They actually ran fund-raisers to ‘Save the Starlight Horses’ and raised around $10,000. We never saw a penny of that money.

We were criminally investigated for 5 1/2 months and after 5 1/2 months the authorities were convinced that we did nothing wrong and the saw that the sick horses had recovered or were mostly recovered.

The horses you showed on your Website was of a horse named Baruk. When we met him, he had severe behavioral issues and several health issues. Again, we specialize in horses with behavioral issues and unless health issues prevent a horse from lying down, getting up, eating and drinking, we chose to take care of them.

“Baruk lived for five years after we rescued him,” says Rick Bell.

Unlike Michelle, we don’t shoot them. When a horse is unable to do the above actions, they are humanely euthanized by a vet.

In Baruk’s case he had ulcers when he arrived likely from being mishandled. Later he developed lymphangitis. These were chronic issues for this horse, which made it difficult for him to keep weight on. In the winter he was blanketed and after he settled in he calmed down and lived five years with his friends.

Our friend started the blog “HiCaliber Horse Killers”.  We assisted him in writing posts for quite a while. It was his group that put the massive list of sources of income that HiCaliber had that actually started their downfall.  Our friend ended up moving to Washington so, at that time, we took over his blog.

Our friend’s blog was outing HiCaliber Horse Rescue for almost a year before ‘Shedrow’ engaged.

But as we have seen since then, the media, like Shedrow, continue to defame us with lies. For the record, we were never charged, we were never arrested and we never had any animals seized or dispersed.

If you read Laura’s resume, I think you will find no one in the world with a more diverse and knowledgeable background in animal care and maintenance than Laura.

Over the past five plus years she has become the only expert on false pretense seizure scams and attacks.

Michelle Knuttila is accused of falsely defaming Laura and Rick Bell allegedly to try to steal their good horses through extortion.

Romney Snyder and Michelle Knuttila tried to extort us and blackmail us. Their attack had nothing to do with animal welfare.


Laura Bell with one of her horses, Scarlett.

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Frank Parlato

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4 years ago

Betty thinks we shouldn’t ask Laura for proof. Good one!

If Laura had been able to prove that all these accusations were false, she would have at the onset of all this trouble.

It is worth pointing out that even Michelle’s biggest detractors would never accuse her of wanting the young horses so she could shoot them. She wasn’t shooting horses that far back.

Make no mistake. Laura Bell is as scandalous as Michelle. Never forget, Romney is the common factor.

4 years ago
Reply to  ICU

ICU, why would you think we didn’t submit all of that documentation, all of it, including things you didn’t list, to the investigating authorities? Of course we did, that’s why we were never charged, never had animals seized, etc. Seriously, how and why would I prove something to someone whose too cowardly to use their real name?

And by the way anonymous detractor, no person has ever asked how our horses were/are doing, so why your pretend concern for horses you’ve never known (intake photos, are you serious? And you really think that we only had rescued horses since we began the feedlot rescues? No wonder you won’t use your real name).

And its kind of curious when you say that Michelle wasn’t shooting horses back in 2013…..how would you know that?

Southfork Farmer
Southfork Farmer
4 years ago
Reply to  ICU

She shot Shayla in 2014… Shayla was 4 years old.

4 years ago

Dear Rick Bell, for years you and Laura have claimed innocence. What you have never done to my knowledge is show proof. There is plenty of photographic evidence. Michelle made sure of that. There were photos of rescues at intake, and video showing the same horses in decline months later. Why haven’t you countered this with photographic proof of your own?

Where are your vet receipts? Feed receipts? Receipts from items like wormers, ulcer meds, vaccinations, farrier visits, dentistry, lice medication, fly spray, and other expenses you claim you paid for?

Where is all the paperwork from AC and or any other law enforcement agencies?

Were it me in your shoes, I’d have a binder of proof showing my innocence. Why don’t you? It’s not like these accusations came up years later. You were crying foul from day one. You had pictures of every single horse that you scammed donations for. You could have immediately put up pictures that showed they were not in decline, or at least shown the vet records to prove they were were receiving vet care for verifiable illnesses.
Go ahead and post the proof. We’ll wait.

4 years ago
Reply to  ICU

Dear ICU please post your real identity! I will I’m Betty Goodman if you knkw any thing at all about what happened back then you would not be asking for proof My God how long do they have to try to clear there names ? I knkw I was aware of everything at that time ! Michelle is the trashiest person I knkw she should never be allowed to own.a animal or child ! Laura and Rick has been treating lice and Botts at the time of those pics and the troughs they said had no water lol nope no water because they had no plugs they was used for hay . Hay to keep off the ground . Long story you need to spend the time researching as they’ve spent years posting the truth ! Laura and Rick have made possible 100d of horses to find homes and not go to slaughter ! Education and awareness! This gets old and tiring I can’t even imagine how they feel

About the Author

Frank Parlato is an investigative journalist.

His work has been cited in hundreds of news outlets, like The New York Times, The Daily Mail, VICE News, CBS News, Fox News, New York Post, New York Daily News, Oxygen, Rolling Stone, People Magazine, The Sun, The Times of London, CBS Inside Edition, among many others in all five continents.

His work to expose and take down NXIVM is featured in books like “Captive” by Catherine Oxenberg, “Scarred” by Sarah Edmonson, “The Program” by Toni Natalie, and “NXIVM. La Secta Que Sedujo al Poder en México” by Juan Alberto Vasquez.

Parlato has been prominently featured on HBO’s docuseries “The Vow” and was the lead investigator and coordinating producer for Investigation Discovery’s “The Lost Women of NXIVM.” Parlato was also credited in the Starz docuseries "Seduced" for saving 'slave' women from being branded and escaping the sex-slave cult known as DOS.

Additionally, Parlato’s coverage of the group OneTaste, starting in 2018, helped spark an FBI investigation, which led to indictments of two of its leaders in 2023.

Parlato appeared on the Nancy Grace Show, Beyond the Headlines with Gretchen Carlson, Dr. Oz, American Greed, Dateline NBC, and NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt, where Parlato conducted the first-ever interview with Keith Raniere after his arrest. This was ironic, as many credit Parlato as one of the primary architects of his arrest and the cratering of the cult he founded.

Parlato is a consulting producer and appears in TNT's The Heiress and the Sex Cult, which premiered on May 22, 2022. Most recently, he consulted and appeared on Tubi's "Branded and Brainwashed: Inside NXIVM," which aired January, 2023.

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