MK10ART's portrait of Toni Natalie

Heidi: Another Take on Toni Natalie as a Mom 

Heidi Hutchinson

By Heidi Hutchinson

I used to talk to Toni Natalie on the phone on a regular basis back in 2010 – 2011. During that time, her adopted son, Michael, briefly moved back in with her for what was planned to be a blessed reunion between them.

I believe he stayed with her for about 10 days.

I heard many Keith Raniere’s stories first (or second or third) hand from Toni and, in hindsight, I recall having a sense that she was rehearsing some of them on me.  Perhaps I failed her by not speaking up when a few facts didn’t quite hold together, but I also sensed her very palpable fear and trauma over what she alleged were Keith’s non-stop, vindictive attacks.

Mind you, this was in 2010-2011 – AFTER we’d been interviewed for the Albany Times Union expose series that was not published until February of 2012.  The series took almost two years from the time I first interviewed and the time it was published.

It was a long wait.

I honored Albany Times Union’s James Odato’s request that none of us who spoke on the record against Raniere speak with each other until after he completed his interviews with us – but, obviously, we were free to speak among ourselves after the interviews, while the Times Union story was being edited and under legal review – for the next two, exasperating years.

So, naturally, some of us did speak a lot and have a kind of sisterhood, as we waited for what we thought was going to be a very hard-hitting series.  Toni and I developed our relationship under these circumstances.

Call me a coward, but I gotta admit I might have never initially contacted Jim Odato back in 2009 – about my sister, Gina, [whose death was ruled a suicide] had I heard some of Toni’s scary stories about Keith beforehand.

In fact, between Toni’s stories and revelations that Keith’s war chest was padded by not only the Bronfman sisters’ Seagram fortune but by the dangerous Salinas family of Mexico, there was a time or two I thought about trying to pull my interview altogether.

Toni, however, was certain the Times Union expose would blow NXIVM into smithereens, no matter how formidable a foe it turns out they were.  She would leave gleeful voicemails for me that began, “Tic, tock, tic, tock…” whenever she got news of any progress on the Times Union story.

So, during this time, Michael’s return to live with Toni “happily ever after” did have the feel of a grand finale; one that was being timed to correlate with the Times Union publication which we were told was going to happen within days.

So Michael moved in with Toni – for the first time in more than 14 years.

[I now wonder if Toni only brought Michael back to live with her because she thought the Times Union expose would destroy Nxivm {It did not} and she could then claim she lived happily with her son – which might help her sell a book or documentary – with she, in the leading role – as the brave single mom – who took down a cult.]

Within days, Toni began complaining to me about Michael and, in particular, his eating habits which she said he picked up from his dad, Rusty.  While Michael was living there those few days, Toni told me the only good thing Keith contributed as a co-parent, back in the 1990s, when Michael was 6-8 years old, was Keith severely restricting Michael’s caloric intake.

But now the young man – about 22 – was defiant. Living with Toni, he liked to eat whatever he wanted. And he did.

I already had bad feelings about the subject of severe caloric restriction for adults and especially children. Despite Toni’s yen for the thin model type body – a desire she seemed to share with Keith – I was very much against too much restriction – perhaps much more so than others who might think super skinny model look is beautiful – because of my late sister Gina’s sudden 30 pound weight loss in the weeks leading up to her death [which suggests to me that Keith was again active in her life. Gina was 5’7″ and 110 pounds when she died].

And I was starting to notice the same Nazi concentration camp look trending among Nxivm female recruits in social media and other online pictures we were gathering then. I believe Odato looked into this.

Not much more than five or six days after Michael moved in with Toni, we got bad news. The Times Union story was pushed back again. It now appeared it would be delayed for months.

The following day, Toni called me in a fury – declaring Michael had done something so heinous and unforgivable that he must move out immediately.  He had put both her and her dogs’ lives at jeopardy by leaving her garage door open for more than an hour in broad daylight!

Now, this oversight might seem trivial to someone who isn’t an arch-enemy of Raniere, but, I could understand how Michael’s security lapse could rattle Toni’s self-preservation instincts.  But not to the degree that her son should be tossed out on the street.

I thought, “Wouldn’t Michael be in danger if he were made suddenly homeless? Had she any real concern for Michael’s well-being?”

I remember trying to talk Toni down by saying I didn’t think the garage door closed or shut would be a hindrance to professional goons Keith could easily afford if he really wanted to do her or her dogs bodily harm.

[According to Toni, Keith had previously poisoned her German Shepard, Jake. But she never provided me with evidence of this.  I am uncertain if she ever filed a police report. To this day, I do not know if the poisoned dog story is true or not – although I believed it at the time based on her word.]

But getting back to the garage door being open in the daytime, it is unclear if Toni was using that as an excuse to throw her son out, now that the Times Union story was not coming out right away – or whether she was really frightened.

As I recall, after I spoke with her, Toni decided to give Michael a couple of days to make alternative living arrangements before booting him out.

I do recall that during those next few days, while Michael was still there, Toni called me daily for a security walk-through. She walked around the house, phone in hand – checking locks and jams behind Michael [who evidently wasn’t able to live in the same constant fear-status mode – perhaps a habit he had picked up from his father] and not quite getting the need for such security  – despite being harped at and humiliated by Toni – with me all the while on the phone.

Puppy in the Freezer

I’m not about to spill the “puppy-in-the-freezer” story, which I have no doubt Toni’s book will reveal. I do not know if her story is true or not. But Toni told me the story of how a despicable Keith blamed Michael for his puppy’s death when its death was clearly accidental.

While it made Keith seem like quite a monster, as a mother myself, I did not understand Toni’s acquiescence to Keith’s punishing the child the way he did.

Had anyone ever tried to lay a guilt trip on my son, like Keith supposedly did on Michael – over carelessly “killing” his own pet – when the pup’s death, according to Toni, was an accident, I would have stood up to the man and objected.

I draw a line with anyone who abuses a child. But it was far worse.

According to Toni, Keith made her keep the body of the puppy in their freezer and Keith [with Toni’s full knowledge and consent] made Michael stare at the dead puppy for a certain length of time every day – in order to teach him the consequences of his action.

Toni described this as more of Keith’s brutal behavior and his monster-like tendencies. But I gleaned something different from her horror story. That she was a horrible and unfit mother.   There is no way I would have let anyone do that to my son. That is child abuse – having a boy of seven forced to stare at a dead puppy – daily for a fixed period of time – to teach him a lesson?

I wouldn’t have waited around for him to rape me repeatedly in the next room as my son was sleeping – before leaving Keith – – as Toni said she did – or before sending Michael to live with his sane father in Rochester.

Now, in retrospect, I do not know if the dead puppy story is true. If it is, and I do not know if Toni realizes it, it makes Toni look pretty bad for tolerating it.

Either way, Toni was far from a good mother and perhaps not a good person either.

Still, in fairness to her, after she committed adultery with Keith – cheating on her husband while it seems pretending to be working for Keith – her family split up.  Toni claims Rusty was not very affectionate with her and their marriage was over in spirit anyway, so it should not be judged as adultery.

But that does not change the fact that someone had to take care of their adopted son. And so Toni – the single mother – took the boy at first to Albany, to let him be exposed to who she thought was the smartest man in the world.

And even if she was not a good mother, that does not obviate the fact that Toni was tormented by Keith and his minions for years. Although sometimes I think she would – during periods of lull when Keith was not bothering her – poke the bear back and start the trouble anew.

Still, her will to fight and fight back is admirable – and to hear her tell it, she had little choice in that. She said she either had to fight back or perish.

Given the fact that so many others who played a similar role as she did in Keith Raniere’s career did wind up “dead or imprisoned,” as he swore she, too, would, I believe Toni on that account.

As for many of her many stories, some may be true, some may be exaggerated and some seem to be outright lies.

She has committed herself to her stories for all time in her book, so I guess time will tell if she has told us the truth or not.

Toni Natalie’s dramatic story of her time with Keith Raniere and the harrowing years after she left him.

 

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  • Heidi,

    This OpEd article is balanced and extremely well written. Your treatment of Toni Natlie is about as fair and objective as it gets.

    Unfortunately, readers with poor reading comprehension skills like Bangkok will most likely not agree.

    • You’re right about me not agreeing. 🙂

      With regard to my reading comprehension… I have the magical ability to do something that most others cannot do successfully — that is, to ‘read between the lines’ and see what the author is REALLY attempting to say via her tone, not necessarily her words. 🙂

      For instance…

      Heidi may write that she’s only reporting what Toni told her. Heidi may also hint that she maintains a degree of skepticism regarding her old friend Toni (in order to give the illusion that she’s a balanced journalist).

      However, if you ‘read between the lines’ (examine Heidi’s overall tone in the article as a whole) you can clearly see that Heidi buys into her friend’s bullshit 90%.

      You can clearly see that Heidi’s overall ‘goal’ is to sway readers to adopt the attitude that Toni hasn’t done anything too bad as a wife or parent.

      Or, at the very least, Heidi’s goal is to sway readers to believe that although Toni may have done some bad things as a wife and mom, she’s not nearly as bad as Frank’s reporting would suggest.

      That’s called PROPAGANDA, you dimwitted dupe. 🙂

      Instead of reading between the lines, you take words at ‘face value’ and assume that Heidi really is a bit skeptical of Toni’s claims. When, in reality, her whole reason for writing such a lengthy article was to rehabilitate her friend’s image among Frank Report readers.

      Give my best to wifey. 🙂

      • Bangkok,

        The only “magical ability”, you have, “to read between the lines”, involve the skin fold lines on your grandpa’s scrotum.

        All you are reading are hair follicles, moles and hopefully benign skin growths.

        Heaven forbid something bad happens to grandpa Bangkok and a little dipshit like you inherits anything!!!!

        Have a nice night you little dipshit! 😉

  • What else has the USEFUL IDIOT (Heidi) said to attempt to rehabilitate Toni’s image among FrankReport readers?

    Well, she also attempted to contradict Frank’s sources — who claim that Toni is rumored to draw SS Disability due to PTSD from years spent with Keith.

    Heidi is claiming that Toni draws disability not because of a mental disorder like PTSD caused by Keith, but because she suffers from a physical disorder called “Fibromyalgia” (which causes physical pain and allegedly prevents her from working).

    *Of course, I have no way of knowing who’s got the accurate scoop here — since I have no knowledge about Toni’s ailments apart from what I read on FrankReport.

    However, Frank’s sources have confirmed that Toni does acrobatic workouts while hanging on a rope & rings 3 times per week, hanging 60 feet in the air.

    Thus, if that’s really true (and it sounds to me as though it probably is true) then it would likely indicate that she doesn’t suffer from serious pain caused by ‘Fibromyalgia’ which allegedly prevents her from being able to work, LOL.

    So again, I am left to think that Heidi is being Toni’s USEFUL IDIOT by repeatedly attempting to spread stories that paint her in a better light.

    IMO, Heidi is becoming a great propaganda artist. 🙂

    But I’ll take the ‘word’ of Frank’s sources over Heidi’s USEFUL IDIOT RANTINGS any day of the week. 🙂

  • I found an inaccuracy in Heidi’s story.

    Heidi claims that Toni told her this:

    “Toni claims Rusty was not very affectionate with her and their MARRIAGE WAS OVER in spirit anyway, so it should not be judged as adultery.”

    *This is NOT what Toni Natalie told reporter James Odato for the 2012 Times Union article he published.

    Toni Natalie confirmed for the Times Union that she was in a GOOD MARRIAGE when she first met Keith Raniere.

    Quote form Times Union article:
    “Toni Natalie was in a good marriage and was raising a young son when Raniere invited her to the Clifton Park headquarters of Consumers’ Buyline”

    No matter what Toni claims in her 2019 book (which is full of self serving statements) it doesn’t change the fact that in 2012 James Odato printed that Toni was in a ‘good marriage’ when she met Raniere.

    IMO James Odato likely wouldn’t have printed that statement unless Toni CONFIRMED this for him (long before she had a book deal).

    Thus, I’ll take Odato’s word over Heidi’s word (and Toni’s self serving book) ANY day of the week. LOL.

    Thus, in my opinion Toni and Heidi appear to be attempting to rewrite history to make Toni’s questionable morals seem more ‘normal’.

    This is no small matter.

    It cuts right to the HEART of Toni’s CREDIBILITY as an author.

    It also cuts right to the HEART of her MORALS as a human being.

    Let’s not forget…

    A couple weeks ago Heidi attempted to tell us that Toni’s decision to ship her son back to his dad to be raised (i.e., Toni’s decision to ditch her responsibility as a parent) was ‘normal’ BECAUSE her son was only a ‘stepson’ according to Heidi.

    Of course, this was another FALSE FACT that Heidi attempted to spread as propaganda to make Toni’s parental decisions seem more ‘normal’.

    Heidi also attempted to claim that Rusty was the ‘biological’ father of the boy, so therefore it was ‘normal’ for him to raise the boy (rather than Toni).

    However, this claim was also FALSE (Rusty was not the biological father) and Heidi was again exposed as being a USEFUL IDIOT for trying to rewrite history to make Toni seem more ‘normal’.

    Look Heidi, Toni ABANDONED her parental responsibilities by shipping her adopted son back to his dad to be raised.

    Stop trying to paint this action in a better light.

    IMO it’s not ‘normal’ to ditch your own kid like that.

    A ‘loving’ mom would NEVER ship their kid away and not take part in raising him any longer.

    But at least Heidi has moved on from her attempts to claim that Bangkok is a former US Attorney from Arizona named Denny Burke, LOL.

    That should tell you all you need to know about Heidi’s credibility for posting facts. 🙂

    • Bangkok,

      You want Heidi Hutchinson to respond to you in some way so badly that ‘it’ must hurt.
      Does it hurt?

      You write insulting comment after insulting comment to Heidi…..
      ….all to get just one meager response.

      Bangkok do you realize how patently transparent you are?

      Have a great day you little dipshit! 😉

    • Dear Mr. “The Retard”
      aka “Bangkok” aka “Pussy, pizza and hot sauce sans garlic,” aka “Deez Nuts” aka “Scott Johnson” aka “Dennis Burke” aka “Jeffrey David Apple” aka “Heidi’s teenage stalker neighbor” :

      You appear to have put an enormous amount of research and thought into ways to discredit me here on FR and elsewise — going all the way back to your claim that I ever called you out as former disgraced, some say murderous, U.S. Attorney for Arizona, Dennis Burke.

      You also appear to have some very personal, real-time information about me you’ve shared here on FR — including my exact whereabouts on the night of July 2, 2019 — strongly indicating that if you are not someone who was or is repeatedly in my immediate environs, you are privy to information from someone who is and who shares your obvious motive to discredit me and, possibly, put my life in danger by encouraging retaliation on me for something you wrongly claim I am responsible for or for a belief you falsely claim I have regarding Dennis Burke AND, you falsely claimed, former Director of Homeland Security, John Sandweg.

      Coupled with my ex-husband, Jeffrey David Apple’s, very real, recent entirely false claim to the North Thousand Oaks, CA police department and others that I am “suicidal and in possession of a fire arm,” in combination with some very real, provable, witnessed, on-going stalking and harassment activity, I tend to find your on-going false claims, as well, quite threatening.

      Again, I never claimed I was being “followed around 24/7 by Dennis Burke and John Sandweg” to anyone. Never “admitted” to having and do not, in fact, have a gun (although I am fast on the draw with legal pepper spray). Nor have I told anyone that I am
      “suicidal” ever, which I am not — a fact proved by a recent search and psyche eval I consented to at the time Jeffrey David Apple made this entirely false claim.

      I am repeating Toni Natalie’s stories to me that you are using to discredit us both, not as fact but as what she told me which, I have been careful to say, that while I may have believed some at the time, did not and do not now know if they are fact or fiction.

      I sincerely hope that you are not so mentally challenged, Mr. “The Retard” ET AL that you are aware that your identity
      will be found out should an investigation need take place should further harm come to me or my son due to your or your accomplices further false claims here on FR and elsewhere.

      I have warned you and your accomplices, previously. Please seek mental help for the sake of Dylan Apple, whom I believe is your son, whose welfare you are also putting at risk through your outrageous lies and truly insane conduct.

  • “I already had bad feelings about the subject of severe caloric restriction for adults and especially children. Despite Toni’s yen for the thin model type body – a desire she seemed to share with Keith – I was very much against too much restriction – perhaps much more so than others who might think super skinny model look is beautiful”

    This issue of calorie cutting has gotten a lot of attention here, in part I think because of the current “body positive” cultural trend. So I delved into it a little. First, I want to be clear that Raniere was a pudgy hypocrite and bullied the women in his harem about losing weight while he enjoyed his ample pizza gut. And the women were fools for listening to him.

    That said, obesity is a huge problem in the U.S. According to the CDC, just shy of 40% percent of American adults are obese– not just overweight but obese. Nearly half the U.S. population. Another 30% are overweight. That’s 70% of adults are overweight or obese.

    I don’t need to go into the health problems directly linked with being overweight or obese, everybody knows them. Being fat is not okay. It’s not Body Positive. It’s unhealthy.

    Nonetheless, a lot of attention is paid to the underweight. Those goddam skinny models. The media and Hollywood spreading that terrible idea that the skinny model look is attractive. What terrible role models!

    So how big a problem is being underweight, factually? Again according to the CDC, about 1.7% of the population is underweight.

    Let that sink in. For all the hysteria about “negative body images” and the damage done by those awful swimsuit models, less than two percent of the population is actually underweight. And this statistic includes the sick and dying as well– people who are thin because of an underlying health condition.

    It’s actually healthy to be thin. It’s not awful to want to look like the statue of a Greek god. It’s not a sin to be thin.

    “I was starting to notice the same Nazi concentration camp look trending among Nxivm female recruits” Seriously? Have a look at pictures of the Holocaust and actually compare them to photos of Keith’s harem girls. Mack’s chipmunk cheeks compared to the living skulls of the death camp survivors.

    Nonsense.

    That scary “concentration camp” look of models and actresses is actually what a person on the light end of normal looks like; it’s just in a society where nearly half are obese and nearly three quarters are too fat, having a normal BMI looks odd.

  • Mentioned it before, but outsiders may not understand how Halfmoon area (and Saratoga) was pre-1990. Kind of weirdly lawless if you stayed under the radar.

    I do wonder where Ms. Natalie was living at the time of this story with her son?

    • Toni told me two stories about where she was living in Half Moon — which may both have been true at different times.

      She said that at one time she and young Micheal were living alone as a family with Keith in a place behind #3 Flintlock Lane (the townhouse Keith purchased with Karen Untreriener) while Karen, Pam and Kristin Keefe resided at Flintlock.

      In another conversation, Toni claimed that when she “MOVED out of Flintlock” to the back house dwelling with Keith, Kristin became upset that no one at Flintlock was keeping the townhouse clean and organized as Toni had while she and Michael resided there.

      These are statements culled from my old notes and fairly good memory for detail — but if Micheal and she started out at Flintlock and Micheal was 7 when the puppy fatally fell from the couch hitting it’s head on a coffee table while Micheal was rough housing with it — it must have happened at Flintlock.

  • LOL.

    Toni’s garage door story sounds like little more than a PRETEXT to throw her son outta the house — without having to look like the ‘selfish villain’ that she probably was.

    You are correct about one thing, Heidi, since a closed garage door would be little hindrance to a team of professionals (hired by Keith) looking to break into her home or do her some type of harm. LOL.

    It’s laughable that you even gave the slightest credibility to Toni on that point.

    Guess what, Heidi?

    Virtually every home has something called ‘WINDOWS’ which can be easily broken by any intruder who is determined to get inside, regardless of whether the fucken garage door is open or closed.

    …and besides, WHAT THE FUCK would intruders wanna do inside her home?

    I know… Maybe look for ‘secret documents’ that Toni keeps there which can lock them up for life? Yeah sure.

    Look Sunshine…

    If Keith and his goons had really wanted to cause some type of harm to her —- they could have simply waited for her to leave the home and did it then. They don’t need an open garage door for anything.

    It sounds like Toni considered you to be her ‘useful idiot’ for spreading her propaganda, LOL.

    …and by the sound of it, you partly bought into much of her crap.

    Toni sounds to me like a loveless mom and a shitty parent IMO.

    And you know what else?

    I’m shocked that Heidi attempted to partially JUSTIFY Toni’s decision to use Keith’s ‘calorie restriction’ on her YOUNG son, pretending as though it was for the boy’s own benefit.

    NOTHING that Keith did (related to calorie restriction) was for the person’s own benefit. It’s a means of control.

    Oh, another thing…

    It kinda sounds to me as though you are in communication with Toni these days, LOL.

    If Toni was that concerned about ‘weight’ and ‘health’ then WHY THE FUCK did she tolerate Keith stuffing his fat face with junk food every day?

    Why did she continue shacking up with a chubby slob like Keith Raniere?

    Why didn’t she demand that Keith get his own fat ass on that same diet?

    IMO Toni used you, Heidi.

    She used you as one of her ‘useful idiots’ IMO.

    IMO, it sounds like she may still be using you. 🙂

    • Just wanted to add…

      If Toni’s ‘concern’ about her young son’s weight was really based on love and health, then WHY THE FUCK wouldn’t she consult a pediatric doctor to supervise the boy’s weight and nutrition?

      Why would she trust a guy who’s a CHUBBY FATASS to supervise her son’s calorie restriction?

      Why would she trust a guy who EATS JUNK FOOD ALL DAY LONG to supervise her son’s calorie restriction?

      IMO, that’s akin to trusting a ‘broke gambler’ to supervise your retirement money. LOL.

      • Not sure about the puppy in the freezer story (Have to get back to you on that) but Toni kicking Michael out is not how I understood it. After years of needing a mom in this life he agreed to move in with her but after only 10 days realized why he left in the first place.

        • It would be nice if you do get back with us and share what you know. Otherwise, the comment section has to settle for outside observers who scream a lot, bring nothing new to the table, enjoy piling on, and are experts at explaining the concept of windows.

        • Maybe it was a more mutual parting but Toni couldn’t take that rejection and, like everything, turned it into a chapter in her “mein kamph” NX story.

          I know for a fact she bitched the poor kid out.

          Good to hear Michael did follow in his dad’s footsteps — out Toni’s door — once he was old enough to decide for himself!

          • Wasn’t in any way trying to contradict your account of why Michael moved out Heidi. If I gave that impression, I am truly sorry. I have absolutely no doubt that’s what you were told by Toni. She has a way of embellishing the truth in order to make herself look good while making others look bad.

        • Nutjob,

          “Just a Dad’s” response is probably the the truth.

          Toni Natlie seems to have been like french lamoges china porcelain….

          …..Beautiful and ornate on the outside and completely hollow on the inside.

        • Please feel free to contradict — no offense taken there — I very much hope the whole bloody frozen puppy story is a gross embellishment as well for Michael’s sake.

          I asked Toni, in fact, months ago why I hadn’t read about the puppy in any of the many interviews she’d given thus far. She replied that it was not so important, to that effect, and I disagreed bc to me that screamed out: Keith is one very sick puppy!

          Toni said she DID tell the FBI but I’ve since had my doubts she was as valuable an asset to their investigation as she repeatedly purported.

          • Glad to say that as with most things that have been reported, the puppy story was only a half-truth. Yes, the dead puppy was left in a box in the freezer but no, Michael was not forced to view it daily as punishment. Also, Mike did leave Toni’s home after only 10 days of his own free will. To be fair, it was no doubt mutual. I’m thinking they both just decided that it wasn’t going to work out as planned.

About Frank Parlato

About Frank Parlato

Frank Parlato is an investigative journalist.

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