For years, Toni Natalie has tried to “own” the Kristin Snyder story.
It’s a sad story, a tragic story, and no one ought to own it. Or capitalize on it.
But Toni is a different kind of person.
The Kristin Snyder Story
Kristin Marie Snyder disappeared on February 6, 2003. She was last seen after being ejected from an Executive Success Programs [Nxivm] class at the Westmark Hotel in Anchorage, Alaska. The following evening, her Toyota pickup truck was found in Seward, Alaska, parked on Beach Drive about 100 feet from the shore of Resurrection Bay. The truck had a suicide note inside it.
Police discovered that a kayak was missing from Miller’s Landing – where the truck had been parked – and concluded that Kristin took the kayak, paddled out into Resurrection Bay, flipped it over and drowned in the cold February waters.
Despite a search by rescue workers, state and municipal police, the Coast Guard and the Civil Air Patrol – neither her body nor the kayak was found.
It is possible that Kristin died as police concluded – and it’s possible something else happened – something that might have involved the monster of Nxivm, Keith Alan Raniere.
I was first to report that Kristin might have been pregnant – with Keith’s child and, for those who know the history of Raniere – that could have been a motive for murder.
At the time, Raniere was going through great pains to pretend to the outside world that he was celibate – as part of the mystique of his life – as the world’s smartest man – and a great spiritual teacher. All of his inner circle, who he was having sex with at the time, were participating in deceiving students with that lie.
As one Nxivm coach told me, who was deeply damaged by the years he lost to Nxivm, “Had I known he was not celibate…my life would have been much different. I did not know about DOS until you wrote about it. And so many things. I was a supporter of him, wrongly sympathizing that he was the one under attack from many. I gave up that.”
In 2003, however, the liars were doing well – with Executive Success Programs booming – recruiting wealthy and attractive people. Customers paid from $2,000 – $10,000 for ESP courses.
This was before the Forbes story came out calling the group in effect “a cult.”
At the time of Kristin Snyder’s disappearance, the Bronfman sisters had just joined the group and the liars of Nxivm told the two wealthy heiresses that Keith was a genius monk.
When any of his inner circle got pregnant – they were ordered to have abortions. They all kept it secret – that Keith was a sex addict – and instead told the very opposite lie – that he was a monk.
The Bronfmans were deeply enamored with the teachings and had brought in their father – the billionaire, Edgar Bronfman Sr.
The wealth of the world was almost at Raniere’s doorstep.
Now here was Kristin Snyder, not keeping it secret, telling people she was pregnant with Raniere’s child and possibly unwilling to have an abortion. Telling everyone in the class that the exalted monk, the Vanguard, got her pregnant.
Esther Chiappone Carlson arranged for Kristin to leave the Nxivm class.
Keith’s faithful follower, Esther Chiappone [who was part of Raniere’s harem], was running the class. An attempt was made to marginalize Kristin – to make her seem nutty. Chiappone told the class that Kristin was confused and imagining things.
Nancy Salzman called from Albany and said that Kristin was just seeking attention.
Nxivm members Ed Kinnum, Nina Cowell and Karen Abney also helped isolate her. But Kristin kept insisting she was pregnant.
Finally, they “arranged” to have her thrown out of class – someone came to get her – and she disappeared – forever.
Could Keith – who has said on video – “I’ve had people killed for my beliefs – and for theirs”– have arranged for the murder – or perhaps the very much assisted suicide of Kristin Snyder?
I am investigating.
I have been to Anchorage and Seward to interview people who were around at the time and to do more research. Later, I will share those findings. But let me say this, what I have uncovered so far strongly suggests that the official version may not be true.
That is a story for a later day. The story today is not as much about Kristin Snyder – but of her family – her mother and her sister, Kim.
And a woman named Toni Natalie – who has nothing to do with the disappearance of Kristin Snyder.
She was not with Keith when Kristin disappeared. She had been gone out of the Raniere orbit for more than three years when that happened.
At the time Kristin Snyder disappeared, Toni was living in Rochester, New York, busy running her own failed businesses with 4th husband Scott Foley, and her brother, John, running up debts and stiffing creditors and blaming it on Keith.
In 2019, Toni published a book – “The Program: Inside the Mind of Keith Raniere and the Rise and Fall of Nxivm”.
The book describes a number of events – many of which are provable lies and others of which are laughable embellishments – about her relationship with Keith some 20-plus years ago and an account of how Keith destroyed everything in her life ever afterward – despite ample evidence pointing to her being mainly responsible for her failures.
Toni also writes about Nxivm – during the 20-years she was not there – largely relying on what others told her or based on published accounts – of which she had no firsthand knowledge.
Along the way, she makes herself the heroine of every story – and does not hesitate to make people who knew her look bad – with gratuitous stories about them – which also may not be true.
And, in her book, she saw fit to include the story of Kristin Snyder – which is her right of course. But it is not her right to get facts wrong.
And she got one fact very wrong – and that was hurtful to the family.
Before we get to that, let me explain that I spoke to Kristin’s younger sister, Kim Snyder, long before Toni did. Kim and I spoke a few times when I first began my investigation. At the time, I was on good terms with Toni.
I was seeking to take down a monster named Raniere – and I was the only one writing about him – and his branding of women – on the Frank Report – during the summer of 2017.
After speaking with Kim a few times, I introduced her to Toni via phone. Afterward, I barely heard from Kim again. This did not seem particularly noteworthy especially since I was busy with the branding story – and finding out where Keith was hiding in Mexico and what he was doing in the present and not concerned much with what happened in the past.
After Keith’s arrest, trial and conviction, I returned to investigate the disappearance of Kristin Snyder. I tried to reach Kim. She did not seem to want to talk to me.
I called Toni and asked if she had spoken with Kim or her mother. Toni said she had – but that I should know that Kim is retarded – and the mother does not want to speak to anyone. They wanted that chapter of their life closed, Toni said. No media interviews. No cooperation with any investigation into what might have happened.
I told Toni I believe I had new information about Kristin Snyder’s disappearance.
Toni said “Don’t talk to Kim – she is like an 8-year-old. To do that would be morally wrong. Besides, it’s done and over and that’s how the family wants it.”
I told Toni I would pursue my investigation anyway.
Toni added, “The family does not want to talk to you or anyone in the media. I wish I could help you.”
Later, I found that Toni could have helped me. And, in fact, the reason the family did not want to talk to me was because of her.
Toni was planning to tape the family for her podcast
In fact, Toni contacted the Snyder family and asked if she and Chet Hardin could go down to Dillon, SC where they lived and record them and stay as a guest in their house.
The family said yes, but, because Chet and Toni are not married, it was not proper that they share the same room in their house. [The Snyder’s are devout Catholics]. They told Toni that she and Chet – or at least Chet – would have to get a hotel in nearby Florence, SC.
Toni said she believed her publisher would pay for their hotel room. But things were delayed a few days.
Meantime, Toni said she was going on Dr. Oz and thinking about going on Dr. Phil to tell the Snyder story.
Kim Snyder Calls Me
In any event, the other day I got a call – from out of the blue – from Kim Snyder and we had our first serious chat in quite some time.
As Kim spoke, I began to realize she was not – as Toni told me – retarded. She seemed well-spoken, thoughtful and had high-level communication and comprehension skills.
She called to tell me that she was disturbed about a lie Toni put in her book about her sister, Kristin.
Kim was also angry that – as she had learned from others – that Toni said she was retarded. Kim also revealed that Toni consistently bad-mouthed me to her and her mother.
A full-time mother, who does volunteer work with veterans at the VA in Dillon, South Carolina, Kim told me that Toni recently all but demanded that Kim take down her Facebook page because the media might find a way to contact her.
Toni advocated that the family not only not talk to me – but also not talk to anyone in the media. Toni claimed she was trying to protect the Snyder family.
I also learned that, when Kim and her mother indictaed that they wanted to submit a victim’s impact statement to the judge, Toni instructed them to send it to her, for she was well connected to the DOJ’s Tanya Hajjar and that she, Toni, would read it in court.
This prompted Kim to say to me, “This is not about justice or profit for Toni Natalie – this is about my sister, Kristin. What really counts is telling a true story and Toni told an untruthful, hurtful story – in her book.”
Unlike others – Toni had access to the Snyder family. She was the only one who did.
Kim said, “Why didn’t she call us before the book came out?”
Here is Toni’s narrative from her book about Kristin Snyder. After you read it, I will tell you the big mistake.
Kristin Snyder was an environmental consultant living in Anchorage with her domestic partner, Heidi Clifford. She took an ESP class in November 2002, a sixteen-day intensive taught by Prefect herself, Nancy Salzman. Snyder took to it immediately. She sung its praises to Clifford and to her parents, whom she visited in South Carolina that Christmas. Before heading back to Alaska, she visited ESP headquarters in Albany, where she met Vanguard, who offered to be her “mentor.” To Keith, “mentor” and “lover” are synonyms, and this was concealed for years by his inner circle.
Excited about her meeting with Vanguard, Snyder returned to Alaska in January 2003 and convinced Clifford to take the next ESP class with her. This intensive was held at the Westmark Hotel in Anchorage and taught in part by Esther Chiappone, the schoolteacher turned ESP proctor. The training ran from late January to early February, and as it progressed, Snyder began to behave erratically. She interrupted the class to make deluded pronouncements. She called her parents and raved maniacally, telling them she was responsible for the space shuttle Columbia blowing up. She stopped sleeping, or tried to stop, because she believed that Keith needed no sleep and wanted to emulate her mentor. (There were also reports that Snyder claimed that she was carrying Keith’s child, although there is no way to know if this is true.)
On February 6, Snyder was ordered to leave the intensive by Esther Chiappone because she was being disruptive. When Clifford asked if she should go with her and bring her to a hospital, Chiappone instructed her not to do so. That was the last time Clifford would see her partner.
The next day, Snyder’s pickup truck was discovered in the remote town of Seward, an hour and a half outside of Anchorage, at a park site on Resurrection Bay. The Alaska State Police would later conclude that Snyder had broken into a shed, taken an old wooden kayak, paddled it out into the vast and deep bay, and drowned. She was thirty-five years old.
Her body was never located, but police did find a suicide note:
I attended a course called Executive Success Programs (a.k.a. Nexivm) based out of Anchorage, AK, and Albany, NY. I was brainwashed and my emotional center of the brain was killed/turned off. I still have feeling in my external skin, but my internal organs are rotting. Please contact my parents… if you find me or this note. I am sorry life, I didn’t know I was already dead. May we persist into the future.
The problem with Toni’s story
Toni wrote, Kristin Snyder “called her parents and raved maniacally, telling them she was responsible for the space shuttle Columbia blowing up.”
Kim and her mother categorically deny Toni’s embellishment. The mother said that Kristin never called and said any such thing to her. And added that, if her daughter had called and said such delusional things, she and her husband would have been on the next plane to Alaska to ensure she was hospitalized and cared for.
This – I submit – is what any good parent would do.
In one little sentence, Toni made Kristin Snyder’s mother and father look like neglectful, uncaring parents.
Who among you would have let their child “rave maniacally” and not done everything in your power to rescue your child?
Well, perhaps one person might not have.
As Joe O’Hara pointed out to me when we were discussing this matter, “Toni maybe didn’t realize how bad that sounded when she wrote that lie. Don’t forget, Toni abandoned her own son – when he was nine – so she doesn’t have normal parental instincts.”
Setting the Record Straight
Let us set the record straight.
Kim Snyder is definitely not retarded and I don’t believe Kristin Snyder called her mother and acted delusional – saying she was responsible for the implosion of the Space Shuttle Columbia.
I do believe her mother [and father, who was alive at the time] would have been on the next flight to Anchorage if that had happened.
Isn’t it sad enough to lose a child – without having someone who has inserted herself into the story, tell it dreadfully and hurtfully wrong?
When the family told Toni about it, she had an excuse.
She said she did not do the research on the story. The publishers had researchers who did the work and were responsible for the mistake.
“What?” Kim said, “You had our phone numbers for over two years. Whenever you wanted something in the past, you called us. Couldn’t you have called us just to make sure you got the story right?”
Yes, the researchers were at fault, Toni said, seemingly deflecting. But the problem is solved.
“In the second edition of the book, I will personally make sure they correct it,” Toni assured them.
The family’s reaction to this callousness was to block Toni’s phone number and cut off all connection with her.
Kim said “This whole time Toni was trying to put a light on herself. Trying to carry the story alone. We are not trying to tell a story. We just want to know the truth. This isn’t about her. It’s about Kristin.
“The slander about me being retarded and not competent to talk to anyone seems to have gotten around to people. But I am able to raise my son. [Something Toni was unable – or unwilling – to do.] Every year, I tutor my son in his curriculum. He goes to Catholic School. I volunteer at the VA. I get to touch a lot of lives, to reach out to a lot of veterans.”
Then getting more defensive – for it hurts to be called stupid or worse, “retarded” – and emotionally immature, Kim added this in a text to me while I was writing the story:
“I buy my own clothing – and I purchase all things that go with my Veterans Flag Bracelet Project. I have pocketbooks, shoes, earrings, etc. that I wear daily – but I buy them!! I had my dad’s military chart challenged and came to find out – he got 19 medals for his service in the military.
“The other person – who works with me – with military projects – Rodney Berry – also works with Congressman Tom Rice’s office in Florence, SC. Yes! Congressman Rice’s office. And Senator Lindsey Graham’s Office, in Columbia, SC/Washington, DC, has worked with me, and helped us in our trip to Washington, DC! Gee – I’m retarded????? Wow! NOT!!!!!”
Sure it sounds reactive.
But how would you feel if someone was pretending to be your friend and looking out for you – but was going around behind your back making you seem incompetent – just in case anyone tried to contact you?
I’d bet you’d be defensive too.