I have tried to reach Nina Cowell repeatedly over the last year. She has declined to return my calls.
I still have questions.
For instance, why did Nancy Salzman give her $50,000?
Nina was in the last intensive with Kristin Snyder, the one from which Kristin disappeared, on February 6, 2003.
Nina was one of her coaches, guiding Kristin on her so-called “issues” concerning her relationship with her spouse, Heidi Clifford – which, in reality, means that Nina was there to help her [mis]lead Kristin to understand why her relationship with Heidi was “toxic” and a “disintegration”.
Probably because Kristin would not stop claiming Keith Raniere had sex with her, and she thought she was pregnant, Esther Chiappone Carlson – with Nina Cowell’s earnest help – removed Kristin from class.
Esther called Nxivm member Elaine Smiloff, who came in her car, picked up Kristin, and drove the distressed woman home. They left around 4 pm. According to Elaine, she simply dropped Kristin dropped her off, thereby leaving her alone in the house with no transportation.
When the intensive ended, Heidi went to the parking lot of the Westmark Hotel to get the Toyota pickup she shared with Kristin. It was gone. [Where was Nina all this time?]
Heidi got a ride home. Kristin wasn’t there. The pickup wasn’t there either.
[Who took the pickup truck? How did it get to Seward, Alaska?]
Heidi reported Kristin as a missing person and told authorities she was possibly suicidal.
The following evening, Friday, February 7, 2003, at 9:20 pm, Kristin’s vehicle was located by Alaska State Troopers in Seward, on Lowell Point, near Miller’s Landing. Two handwritten notes were on the passenger seat. The notes suggested Snyder was planning to commit suicide.
The next closest cabin was a few hundred feet north. The Millers provided the name of the owner [or tenant] – it was [surprise], Nina Cowell.
The woman who owned/rented the nearest cabin from where Kristin’s truck was found happened to be in the same intensive as Kristin and coaching her too.
Alaska State Trooper Jeff Evanoff called Nina from Seward at 11:31 pm. on February 7, one day after she disappeared.
According to the police report, Cowell told police “she knew Snyder and they have been friends since June 2O02. Cowell saw K. Snyder last night, 02/06/03, at about 1600 hours at the Westmark Hotel in Anchorage. Cowell said a bunch of them were there in a group and she believed Snyder left to attend a performance at the Performing Arts Center (PAC). Cowell said that Snyder did not seem quite right during the past few days. Cowell stated she needed to excuse herself and make some telephone calls to some friends and asked If she could call the Troopers back.”
She never called back.
The police report continues: “l telephoned APD [Anchorage Police Department] and provided them with the information about Snyder and Cowell. APD Lt Honeman called the Seward AST [Alaska State Trooper] office and I spoke with him regarding Cowell and her reluctance to speak with AST about Snyder. LI. Honeman stated he would have an officer contact Cowell.”
It is not known if the Alaskan State Troopers ever contacted Cowell before simply deciding that Snyder committed suicide.
Despite an intense search for Snyder in the area, her body was never found.
Let’s call a spade a spade: Nina Cowell lied to Alaska State Troopers about Kristin going to the Performing Arts Center. She knew damn well Kristin was in no condition to attend a concert.
She cut short her interview with the Alaska State Trooper who called her because she had to call friends. Who were those friends?
Within weeks, Nina Cowell left Alaska where she had lived for years and moved to Albany, NY – headquarters of Nxivm.
She was offered – by Nancy Salzman – an opportunity to run the Nxivm Cafe.
That sounds OK — as long as it was a reasonable, arm’s length business deal.
But was it?
The Cafe was located inside Nxivm headquarters at 455 New Karner Road in Colonie, a suburb of Albany, where Nxivm classes were held.
Nancy “lent” Nina Cowell $50,000 to get started. That could be reasonable if the Cafe was potentially profitable.
But Nancy Salzman never required Nina to pay back the “loan” of $50,000 – and Nina never did pay it back. It was put on the books as a loan, but let’s call it what it is – a gift – of $50,000.
Nancy also offered Nina a free residence to live in. A nice home in Clifton Park, and no rent to pay – for years.
That amounted to perhaps another $50,000 in free rent over time.
Those who know Keith Raniere and Nancy Salzman know they do not often make gifts or loans. The money flows from students to them, not vice versa.
So let’s look at the Cafe.
The Cafe consists of a single, long table where food items were placed and a couple of smaller tables for customers to sit down at. Literally two tables.
The customer base was restricted to attendees of Nxivm intensives – which were small classes of usually nine to 20-people. The intensives were conducted perhaps on average once a month.
One extenuating circumstance – to oppose the circumstantial evidence that Nina was bribed to shut up about what she knew about Kristin Snyder – would be that the Cafe was a legitimate business and Nancy invested $50,000 with the expectation that Nina would successfully run the Nxivm cafe and earn enough profit to pay her back.
Here is what Nxivm author and former student, Omar Rosales, says about the Cafe.
“There was no Cafe. That’s a misnomer. It was a sink and a table. No ovens, stoves, vents, no hood, fire extinguishers, fire suppression system, industrial Hobart refrigerators, no health department approved sinks, no dishwasher, no hot water. None of the stuff you would see with a restaurant or real cafe.
“The NXIVM Cafe was a table with a prep room. A normal fridge, sink, and microwave. No glass display cases. No coffee or espresso machines. Nada.
“No cashier, cash register, credit card machine, no phone. Nothing, because there was no cafe
“Nothing was cooked. There was no kitchen. The meals were at best hummus and cold vegetables.
“She provided the water; you made your own tea. They did not have sodas. Water or tea only. No coffee.
“There was no volume. Nobody there to buy anything. Fifteen to 20 people might be at an intensive once or twice a month. No cafe can survive on that, let alone pay back $50,000.
“I was there. I did buy some tea and put money in the jar. There was no cash register. It was self-serve and you put the money in the coffee can. It was the honor system.
“Intensives were not going on the whole time. Most days there were no customers. It was not open to the public.”
So why did Nancy give Nina Cowell $50,000, plus free housing?
Even after Nina Cowell left Nxivm with the Nxivm 9, in 2009, she wasn’t sued. Keith or Nancy did not come after her for repayment – which is atypical of them.
Maybe Nina – by her silence – had already earned the money before the first tea bag was sold.
I repeat my call to Nina Cowell – please feel free to contact me 716-990-5740 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. If you know something about the disappearance of Kristin Snyder, the time has arrived for you to reveal what you know.
If you are innocent, be transparent. If you are guilty of conspiring to lead this poor woman to her doom, or worse, keep in mind, the first passengers on the plea deal bus get the best seats.