Murder of Dee Dee Blanchard

On June 14, 2015, sheriff's deputies in Greene County, Missouri, United States, found the body of Clauddine "Dee Dee" Blanchard (née Pitre; born May 3, 1967, in Chackbay, Louisiana) in her Springfield house.[6] She had been stabbed to death some days before. Her daughter Gypsy-Rose, well-known in the area due to her severe health problems, was missing, although her wheelchair and medications were in the house.

Murder of Dee Dee Blanchard
Blanchard, c. 2010
DateJune 10, 2015; 8 years ago (2015-06-10) (murder)[1]
June 14, 2015; 8 years ago (2015-06-14) (body discovered)
LocationSpringfield, Missouri, U.S.
Coordinates37°16′00″N 93°19′06″W / 37.2668°N 93.3182°W / 37.2668; -93.3182
TypeMurder by stabbing, matricide
Motive
Deaths1
Non-fatal injuries1 (alleged)[a]
ConvictedGypsy-Rose Blanchard
Nicholas Godejohn
VerdictGypsy-Rose Blanchard:
Pleaded guilty
Nicholas Godejohn:
Guilty on both counts
ConvictionsGypsy-Rose Blanchard:
Second-degree murder
Nicholas Godejohn:
First-degree murder, armed criminal action
SentenceGypsy-Rose Blanchard:
Ten years in prison; paroled after eight years[4][5]
Nicholas Godejohn:
Life imprisonment without the possibility of parole plus 25 years

Two days later, Gypsy-Rose Blanchard and her boyfriend, Nicholas Godejohn, were apprehended in his native Big Bend, Wisconsin. Police said that both confessed to the murder. Gypsy-Rose had also taken thousands of dollars from her mother's safe, so they could leave town. She could walk freely, and appeared to have neither the physical nor mental disabilities her mother had claimed. Her mother had forced her to pretend to the health problems for financial and social advantage.[7]

Shortly before trial in 2018, Gypsy-Rose pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and was sentenced to ten years. After a brief trial in November 2018, Godejohn, who had committed the attack of Blanchard, was convicted of first-degree murder. He was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole (LWOP).[8]

Gypsy-Rose was released from prison on parole December 28, 2023.[9] She has become notorious for the issues in her case, and is the subject of several films and television series.

Dee Dee's background edit

Early life edit

She was born Clauddine Pitre in Chackbay, Louisiana, near the Gulf Coast in 1967. Nicknamed Dee Dee, she grew up with her family in nearby Golden Meadow.[10] She was the youngest of five children of Claude Anthony Pitre Sr. and Emma Lois Gisclair.[11]

(Her siblings later recalled, as shown in the TV documentary, Gypsy’s Revenge (2018), that when they were growing up their mother would keep Dee Dee inside. She said the girl had a heart murmur and had to be sheltered.[12])

Relatives say that Dee Dee used to steal from her family. They later speculated it was a form of retaliation when "things didn't go her way." Her mother Emma died in 1997. In later interviews, her family expressed suspicion that Dee Dee was neglecting Emma and might have killed her by denying her food.[13]

At some point early in her adult life, Dee Dee worked as a nurse's aide, along with Kristy Blanchard and Laura Pitre.[7][14]

When she was 24 she met Rod Blanchard, then age 17, in a bowling alley bar.[15] They got married on December 27, 1990.[16]

Shortly before Gypsy's birth in July 1991, the couple separated. Rod said he realized that he "got married for the wrong reasons".[7] They named their daughter Gypsy-Rose because Dee Dee liked the name Gypsy, and Rod was a fan of Guns N' Roses.[7] When he refused to return, Dee Dee took her newborn and moved to live again with her family.[7]

Gypsy's childhood edit

According to Rod Blanchard, by the time Gypsy was three months old, Dee Dee was convinced that Gypsy had sleep apnea and began taking her to the hospital. But repeated overnight stays with a sleep monitor and other tests found no sign of the condition.[17] Dee Dee became convinced that her daughter had a wide range of health issues, which she attributed to an unspecified chromosomal disorder.[7] At some point, Dee Dee claimed that Gypsy had muscular dystrophy and made her use a walker.[18]

In her book, Gypsy claims that when she was five years old, her grandfather made her and Dee Dee take a bath with him.[14] She writes that, when she was seven or eight, she was riding on her grandfather's motorcycle and they were involved in a minor accident where she suffered an abrasion on her knee. Dee Dee told the girl doctors had given her a wheelchair she would need to use.[18]

Gypsy often went with her parents to Special Olympics events. In 2001, Dee Dee claimed Gypsy was eight (she was actually ten). The apparently disabled girl was named the honorary queen of the Krewe of Mid-City, a child-oriented parade held during Mardi Gras in New Orleans.[19] At the event, Gypsy described herself as an animal lover with four cats and said her grandfather was her "best friend".[20]

Dee Dee suffered a leg injury that Gypsy remembered resulted from a car accident, and required her being in a hospital for two months. At that time Dee Dee and Gypsy were living with her maternal grandfather Claude, and stayed there for 10 months. In her 2024 book, Gypsy accuses Claude of having abused both her and her mother when they lived with them. [21]

This is the year Dee Dee began to take her daughter to science fiction and fantasy conventions.[22] Sometimes they would go in costume, which allowed Gypsy to blend into these unusual communities.

Gypsy seems to have stopped going to school after second grade,[5] possibly even as early as kindergarten.[6] Her mother homeschooled her after that, supposedly because her illnesses were so severe. Commentators have suggested that, instead, the removal of Gypsy from school enabled her mother to isolate the girl while constraining her in her fantasy. Gypsy claims to have learned to read on her own by the Harry Potter books.[5]

Gypsy's father had remarried,[7] and Dee Dee moved in with her father Claude and stepmother Laura. Family members later said that when preparing food for her stepmother, Dee Dee poisoned it with Roundup weed killer, leading to Laura's chronic illness during this period.[23]

During that time, Dee Dee was arrested for several minor offenses, including writing bad checks.[7] The Pitres say that when they began to confront Dee Dee about her treatment of Gypsy and expressed suspicion about her role in Laura's ill health, Dee Dee left with the girl. The family said that Laura appeared to recover her health.

Move to New Orleans edit

They settled in the New Orleans suburb of Slidell. They lived in public housing and Blanchard survived on child-support payments from her ex-husband Rod, and public assistance based on her daughter's purported medical conditions. Blanchard continued to take her daughter to various specialists, mostly at Tulane Medical Center and the Children's Hospital of New Orleans. She sometimes gained treatment for purported problems. After she told doctors that Gypsy had seizures every few months, they prescribed anti-seizure medication. The girl had to undergo surgery during this time and Dee Dee regularly took Gypsy to the emergency room for minor ailments.[7]

According to the Springfield News-Leader, Blanchard regularly consulted with Dr Robert Beckerman. He is said to have treated the girl for 10 years.[24][25]

After Hurricane Katrina devastated the area in August 2005, the pair left their ruined apartment for a shelter in Covington set up for people with special needs. They lived in the shelter for three months. Dee Dee told officials that Gypsy's medical records, and birth certificate, had been lost in the flood. A doctor in Covington who was from the Ozarks suggested the pair relocate to her native Missouri. The next month they were airlifted there as part of the resettlement of people left homeless by Katrina.[7]

Move to Missouri (2005) edit

At first, Dee Dee and Gypsy lived in a rented home in Aurora, in southwestern Missouri. During their time there, Gypsy was honored by the Oley Foundation, which advocates for the rights of feeding-tube recipients, as its 2007 Child of the Year.[26][27]

Move to Springfield edit

In 2008, they moved east to Springfield. Habitat for Humanity had built a small house for them there, specially equipped with a wheelchair ramp and hot tub, as part of a larger project on the city's north side. The story of a single mother with a severely disabled daughter forced to flee Katrina's devastation captured considerable local media attention. The community often pitched in to help the mother, now identifying as Clauddinnea Blancharde. Although she had changed the spelling of her name, she still went by the nickname Dee Dee.[7] Dee Dee regularly set up an outdoor screen to show movies at their house and charged people $1 or $5 to see it.[27]

In the summer of 2009 Children's Mercy Hospitals and Clinics published a story featuring the reunion of Dee, Gypsy and Dr Robert Beckerman after an appointment at the Comprehensive Sleep Disorders Center.[28]

The outpouring of support included many charitable contributions. In Louisiana, mother and daughter had at most availed themselves of occasional stays in Ronald McDonald Houses during medical appointments; in Missouri, they received free flights to see doctors at Children's Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, free trips to Walt Disney World, and backstage passes to Miranda Lambert concerts (where she was frequently photographed with Lambert) via the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Rod Blanchard also continued to make monthly child support payments of $1,200, as well as sending Gypsy gifts and occasionally talking to her on the phone (during one call, on her 18th birthday, he recalls Dee Dee telling him not to mention her daughter's real age since "she thinks she's 14").[7]

Rod and his second wife hoped to get to Springfield and visit, but for a variety of reasons, Dee Dee changed plans. She told her neighbors in Springfield that Gypsy's father was an abusive drug addict and alcoholic who had never come to terms with his daughter's health issues and never sent them any money.[7]

 
Gypsy (unknown date)

Many people who met Gypsy-Rose were charmed by her. Her 5-foot (150 cm) height,[b] nearly toothless mouth, large glasses, and high, childlike voice reinforced the perception that she had all the problems her mother claimed she did. Dee Dee regularly shaved Gypsy's head to mimic the hairless appearance of a chemotherapy patient, allegedly telling her daughter that since her medication would eventually cause her hair to fall out, it was best to shave it in advance; Gypsy often wore wigs or hats to cover her baldness. When they left the house, Dee Dee often took an oxygen tank and feeding tube with them; Gypsy-Rose was fed the children's liquid nutrition supplement PediaSure well into her 20s.[7]

Dee Dee used physical abuse to control Gypsy, always holding her hand in the presence of others. When she said something that suggested she was not genuinely sick or seemed beyond her purported mental capacity, she recalls that her mother would squeeze her hand very tightly. When the two were alone, Dee Dee struck her with her open hands or a coat hanger.[13]

Medical interventions continued; Dee Dee had some of Gypsy's saliva glands treated with Botox, then extracted altogether, to control her purported drooling. Gypsy-Rose later claimed her mother induced drooling by using a topical anesthetic to numb her gums before doctor visits.[30] The lack of salivary glands coupled with side effects of the anti-seizure medication she was given caused her already few teeth to decay to the point that the majority of her front teeth were extracted and replaced with a bridge. Tubes were implanted in her ears to control her myriad purported ear infections.[7]

Gypsy later said in her memoir, The Prison Confessions of Gypsy-Rose, that she suffered from a pain pill addiction from the age of 16.[2]

Suspicions of deceptive behavior edit

In 2007,[7] Bernardo Flasterstein, a pediatric neurologist who saw Gypsy in Springfield, became suspicious of her muscular dystrophy diagnosis. He ordered MRIs and blood tests, which found no abnormalities. "I don't see any reason why she doesn't walk," he told Dee Dee on a follow-up visit after seeing Gypsy stand and support her own weight.[7] Flasterstein noted that Dee Dee was not a good historian. After contacting Gypsy's doctors in New Orleans, he learned that her original muscle biopsy had come back negative, undermining Dee Dee's reported diagnosis of muscular dystrophy, as well as her claim that all her records had been destroyed by flooding. He suspected the possibility of a factitious disorder imposed on another. Dee Dee contrived to gain access to Flasterstein's notes and subsequently stopped taking Gypsy to see him.[7]

Flasterstein did not follow up by reporting Dee Dee to social services. He said other doctors had told him to treat the pair with "golden gloves" and doubted the authorities would believe him anyway. In 2009, an anonymous caller[c] told the police about Dee Dee's use of different names and birthdates for herself and her daughter, and suggested Gypsy was in better health than claimed. Officers who performed the resulting wellness check accepted Dee Dee's explanation that she used the misinformation to make it harder for her abusive ex-husband to find them, without talking to Rod, and reported that Gypsy seemed genuinely mentally disabled. The file was closed.[7]

Growing independence of Gypsy edit

Dee Dee seems to have at least once forged a copy of Gypsy's birth certificate, changing her birthdate to 1995 to bolster claims that she was still a teenager; Gypsy said in a later interview that for 14 years she was not sure of her real age.[30] Dee Dee sometimes also claimed that the original had been destroyed during the post-Katrina flooding.[31] Dee Dee did keep another copy with Gypsy's real birthdate. Gypsy recalls seeing it during one of their hospital visits and becoming confused; Dee Dee told her it was a misprint.[32]

In February 2011, at a sci-fi convention, Gypsy made an escape attempt that ended when her mother found her with a man named Dan, whom she had been speaking to online and met at the convention. There are two versions of this story. In one version, people at the convention who knew Gypsy and Dee Dee became concerned after finding Gypsy was in a man's hotel room; they believed that the girl was 15 and the man was 35. The neighbors claimed that Dee Dee produced paperwork giving a false birth date and threatened to inform the police, and that the man let Gypsy go.[7]

The other version of the story says that Gypsy had found out she was really 19 and had made a plan with Dan to run away to Arkansas. She says that she left a note for Dee Dee saying she wanted to be an independent woman and hitch hiked a lift at 2am to Dan's friend's house. When she got there, she found that Dan was on parole and was not permitted to leave the state. Gypsy says that Dee Dee found her because she had left her phone behind and Dee Dee had managed to track her down. Gypsy says that she left willingly because Dee Dee had told her she could continue her relationship with Dan.[2] Gypsy says afterward, Dee Dee smashed her computer and phone with a hammer and threatened to do the same to her fingers if she ever tried to escape again. Gypsy claims she was leashed and handcuffed to her bed[7] and Dee Dee starved her for two weeks.[2] Dee Dee later told her that she had filed paperwork with the police claiming that she was mentally incompetent, leading her to believe that if she attempted to go to the police for help, they would not believe her.[5]

Shortly after being freed from the bed, Gypsy had unsuccessfully attempted to escape from the house by shooting her mother 10 times with a BB gun, which she initially believed was a real gun.[33]

When Gypsy was 20 she shared explicit images online and says that she did this to make her feel good about herself.[34]

In February 2012, police were called shortly after Dee and Gypsy had been caught shoplifting arts and craft items worth $21.53 from a Hobby Lobby. The items were hidden in the wheelchair under her legs. Dee told the police that they had returned from Disneyland and planned on making a scrapbook. Dee said that they had no intention to steal, that it was a mistake and they had forgot to put the items back.[35]

Sometime around 2012, Gypsy, who continued to use the Internet after her mother had gone to bed to avoid her tightened supervision, made contact online with Nicholas Godejohn, from Big Bend, Wisconsin, whom she said she had met on a Christian singles website.[7] Godejohn, who describes his life as lonely before he began talking to Gypsy,[36] was arrested on April 18, 2013 at a McDonald’s for indecent exposure. He was previously charged on March 11, 2013 for carrying a concealed weapon and disorderly conduct, which carries a combined maximum sentence of one year in prison, $11,000 in fines, or both.[37] He has a history of mental illness, sometimes reported as dissociative identity disorder and also has autism spectrum disorder.[13]

In 2014, Gypsy, who had five separate Facebook accounts,[5] confided to 23-year-old neighbor Aleah Woodmansee that she and Godejohn flirted online and that their exchanges had BDSM elements, which Gypsy claims was more of his interest. Aleah considered herself a "big sister" but later found out they were a similar age. Godejohn and Gypsy had discussed eloping and had even chosen names for potential children. Aleah tried to talk her out of it, thinking she was too young and possibly being taken advantage of by a sexual predator.[7] She considered Gypsy's plans just "fantasies and dreams," and believed that "nothing like this would ever really take place." Despite Dee Dee's efforts to prevent her from using the Internet, which went as far as destroying her daughter's phone and laptop, as well as allegedly locking her in a backyard shed,[30] Gypsy maintained contact with Aleah, who saved printouts of her posts, until 2014.[7]

The next year, she arranged and paid for Godejohn to meet her mother in Springfield. Her plan was for him to just casually "bump into" her while she and Dee Dee were at a movie theater, both of them in costume,[30] and apparently strike up a relationship that way. Later she would introduce him to her mother. As soon as they did meet in person for the first time in March 2015, when Gypsy and her mother went to see Cinderella (2015), Godejohn says Gypsy led him to the bathroom handicap stall, where the two had sex.[13]

Gypsy disputed this account, saying that the two did not have sex and that Godejohn had pulled out his penis but was unable to get erect.[38] The two continued their Internet interactions and began developing a plan to kill Dee Dee.[7]

Murder edit

After receiving stolen money sent by Gypsy in the mail[39] to purchase a bus ticket,[40] Godejohn returned to Springfield in June 2015, arriving while Gypsy and her mother were at the ER to have her feeding tube replaced.[41] After they had returned home and Dee Dee had gone to sleep, he went to the Blanchard house. Gypsy let him in and allegedly gave him duct tape, gloves, and a knife with the understanding that he would use it to murder Dee Dee.[30]

Gypsy hid in the bathroom and covered her ears so that she would not have to hear her mother screaming. Godejohn then stabbed Dee Dee 17 times in the back while she was asleep.[13] Afterward, Godejohn claimed that the two had sexual intercourse in Gypsy's room, and that she also performed fellatio on him.[30] Gypsy alleged that Godejohn had raped her and that the sexual activity was nonconsensual. She alleged that Godejohn told her he would rape her because she did not allow him to rape Dee Dee before the murder as he had previously fantasized about. Gypsy said that she had called out for help from her deceased mother during the rape.[2][3] They took over $4,400 in cash[42] that Dee Dee had been keeping in the house, mostly from Rod's child support checks. They fled to a motel outside Springfield, where they stayed a few days while planning their next move;[43] during that time, they were seen on security cameras at several stores. Gypsy said at that point she believed the two had gotten away with their crime.[30]

They mailed the murder weapon back to Godejohn's home in Wisconsin to avoid being caught with it,[44] then took a bus there. Several witnesses who saw the pair on their way to the Greyhound station noted that Gypsy wore a blonde wig and walked unassisted.[6]

Investigation and arrests edit

After seeing concerning Facebook statuses posted from Dee Dee's account, the Blanchards' friends suspected something was amiss. When phone calls went unanswered, several friends and neighbors went to the house. While they knew that the two often left on medical trips unannounced, they saw Dee Dee's modified car still in the driveway, making this unlikely. Protective film on the windows made it hard to see inside in the low light. No one answered the door, so the gathered friends called 9-1-1. When the police arrived, they had to wait for a search warrant to be issued before they could enter, but they allowed one of the neighbors present to climb through a window, where he saw that the inside of the house was largely undisturbed and that Gypsy's wheelchairs were all still present.[7]

Crime scene photos shown in Mommy Dead and Dearest show a stuffed Barney doll found in the bed near Dee Dee's head and her nails painted pink.[42] The documentary Gypsy's Revenge shows Gypsy at an unknown age holding what may be the same doll; her nails are also painted pink.[45]

When the warrant was issued, police entered the house and found Dee Dee's body. A GoFundMe account was set up to pay for her funeral expenses and possibly Gypsy's. All who knew the Blanchards feared the worst—even if Gypsy had not been harmed, they believed she would be helpless without her wheelchair, medications, and support equipment like the oxygen tanks and feeding tube.[7]

Woodmansee, who was among those gathered on the Blanchards' lawn, told police what she knew about Gypsy and her secret boyfriend. She showed them the printouts she had saved, which included his name. Based on that information, police asked Facebook to trace the IP address from which the posts to Dee Dee's account had been made. It turned out to be in Wisconsin, and the next day police agencies in Waukesha County raided Godejohn's home in Big Bend. Godejohn and Gypsy surrendered and were taken into custody on charges of murder[7] and felony armed criminal action.[46]

The news that Gypsy was safe was greeted with relief in Springfield, where she and Godejohn were soon extradited and held on $1 million bond. But, in announcing the news, Greene County Sheriff Jim Arnott warned, "things are not always what they appear." The media in Springfield soon reported the truth of the Blanchards' lives: that she had never been sick and had always been able to walk, but her mother had made her pretend otherwise,[7][46] using physical abuse to control her.[13] Arnott urged people not to donate money to the family until investigators learned the extent of the fraud.[46]

An unsealed search warrant showed Gypsy had at least five Facebook accounts. "Nick told investigators Gypsy had so many different Facebook accounts he could not remember all of them." The accounts: Nicholas Godejohn, Nicholas Bella Rose, Snowgypsy Blanchard, Gypsy's Trip, Praying for DeeDee and Gypsy, Bella Rose and Gypsy Rose were asked to be searched along with any additional Facebook accounts associated with Gypsy's email addresses. "Previous warrants say friends told investigators Gypsy had alternate Facebook accounts under the names Emma Rose and Devona Wolf where she reportedly "liked" pictures of sadomasochism."[47]

Trials edit

After the disclosure of how Dee Dee had treated Gypsy, sympathy for her as the victim of a violent murder rapidly shifted to her daughter as a long-term victim of child abuse. While the charge of first-degree murder can carry the death penalty under Missouri law or life without parole, County Prosecutor Dan Patterson announced he would not seek the death penalty for either Gypsy or Godejohn, calling the case "extraordinary and unusual".[6] After her attorney obtained her medical records from Louisiana, he secured a plea bargain to second-degree murder for Gypsy. She was so undernourished up to this point, during the year she was in the county jail, her lawyer told BuzzFeed that she had gained 14 pounds (6.4 kg), in contrast to most of his clients who typically lose weight in that situation. In July 2016, she accepted the plea bargain and was sentenced to ten years in prison.[7]

Godejohn still faced the more severe charge because prosecutors contended that he initiated the murder plot, and he and Gypsy agreed that he was the one who killed Dee Dee. He was also more severely prosecuted due to different personal circumstances; Godejohn was given less sympathy and understanding due to a lack of involvement in the abuse. Gypsy's plea bargain agreement did not require her to testify against him.[7] In January 2017, his trial was postponed when prosecutors requested a second psychiatric exam; his lawyers contend that he has an intelligence quotient of 82 and is on the autism spectrum, suggesting that he has diminished capacity.[48] He initially waived his right to a trial by jury,[49] but changed his mind in June of that year.[50]

In December 2017, the judge set Godejohn's trial for November 2018.[51] In their opening statement, prosecutors alleged that Godejohn had deliberated for over a year before the crime, while his lawyers pointed to his autism and said that Gypsy had formulated the crime and their love-struck client had just done as she had asked.[52] The next day, prosecutors showed jurors the text messages, sometimes sexually explicit, that Gypsy and Godejohn shared in the week before the murder, often using various personas, as well as the knife he had used to commit the murder. In some of the texts, he asked her for details about Dee Dee's room and sleeping habits. These were supplemented by video of his interview with police after his arrest, where he admitted killing her.[53]

Gypsy testified on the trial's third day. She said that, while she had indeed suggested to Godejohn that he kill Dee Dee to end her mother's abuse, she had also considered getting pregnant by him in the hope that once she was carrying Godejohn's child, Dee Dee would have to accept him. Along with the knife that she gave to Godejohn, she stole baby clothes from Walmart during a shopping trip so she could go ahead with either plan. However, she said, Godejohn never told her what he thought about the pregnancy plan.[54][55]

After four days, the case was sent to the jury. Jurors had the option of finding Godejohn guilty of one of three murder charges — involuntary manslaughter, second-degree or first-degree murder — or not guilty. After approximately two hours of deliberation, they returned with the verdict: guilty of first-degree murder and armed criminal action. In February 2019, he was sentenced to life in prison for the murder conviction, the only possible option since prosecutors had declined to seek the death penalty. Godejohn asked Judge David Jones for leniency on the armed criminal action charge, which carries a minimum sentence of only three years, saying that he had fallen "blindly in love" with Gypsy. He received a sentence of 25 years on that charge, which is concurrent with the life sentence.[56]

Jones also denied a motion by Godejohn's lawyer, Dewayne Perry, for a new trial. Perry argued that the jury should not have been allowed to hear that Godejohn had considered raping Dee Dee on the night of the murder and also argued that the state's psychologist should not have been allowed to testify, while Godejohn's psychologist should have, to establish that he had diminished capacity. In denying the motion, Jones conceded that an appeals court could find the latter point significant and consider it a reversible error.[56] At Godejohn's appeal hearing there was videos shown that show Gypsy emotionally manipulating Godejohn and an instruction video of how to stab Dee Dee. It was asked why these were not used in the trial.[57] Dan gave evidence at the trial that Gypsy and him had kept in contact through video chats."He says he developed a taste of power exchange role-playing from her. He says she would send nude photos, dress up in costumes, and use various fictitious names. Glidewell says he was injured and that Gypsy visited him while he was in the hospital. She told him she wanted to go to Arkansas to restart her life"[57]

In late 2023, public defender Tyler Coyle filed an appeal seeking a new trial for Godejohn. A timeframe has not been set for when the courts have to review the request.[58]

Aftermath and reactions edit

Community response edit

The Blanchards' neighbors were shocked to learn that Gypsy's illnesses were fabricated. Aleah Woodmansee, whose information about her relationship with Godejohn led police to the couple the day after Dee Dee's body was discovered, said she cried out of disbelief upon hearing that Gypsy had never been sick or disabled. Her mother recalled how everyone had accepted Dee Dee's claims without asking for proof, and wondered if the mother and daughter had been secretly laughing at their neighbors' naïveté. Kim Blanchard (no relation), who had called the deputy sheriffs to the house the night before, said, "What have I been believing? How could I have been so stupid?"[7] Over 60 people attended a candlelight vigil for Dee Dee in downtown Springfield the night after the body was discovered.[46]

In a news conference, Arnott said of the case: "[Springfield is] a giving community, we surround people with love and finances that we believe that needs it. However, a lot of times we are deceived, and I think this is now so true, in this case at hand."[46] Only one of the charities that had helped the Blanchards spoke after the revelations.[7] A spokesman for Habitat for Humanity, whose volunteers had built the Blanchards' house along with others on their street, said, "We are just really, deeply saddened by the whole situation."[46]

Family edit

Dee Dee's family in Louisiana, who say they had confronted her about her treatment of Gypsy years before, did not mourn her. Her father, stepmother, and the nephew who first shared details of Gypsy-Rose's actual health when she first started using a wheelchair all later said that Dee Dee deserved her fate and that Gypsy had been punished as much as she needed to be. None of them would pay for her funeral, and her father and stepmother flushed her ashes down the toilet.[13][5]

Rod Blanchard, Gypsy's father, is more forgiving. "I think Dee Dee's problem was she started a web of lies, and there was no escaping after," he told BuzzFeed. "[I]t was like a tornado got started." He was happy the first time he saw a video of Gypsy walking under her own power.[7]

Gypsy-Rose after serving her sentence edit

I feel like I'm more free in prison than with living with my mom. Because now I'm allowed to just live like a normal woman.[30]

— Gypsy-Rose Blanchard, 20/20, January 4, 2018

Gypsy served her sentence in Missouri's Chillicothe Correctional Center,[29] and did not talk to the media until after she had made her plea. When she did, she told BuzzFeed reporter Michelle Dean that she had been able to research Munchausen syndrome by proxy (now known as factitious disorder imposed on another) on prison computers, and her mother had every symptom. "I think she would have been the perfect mom for someone that actually was sick", she said. She had believed Dee Dee's claim that she had cancer, even though she knew she could walk and eat solid food, leading her to assent to the regular head shavings. But she always hoped that doctors would see through the ruse, and she was frustrated that none besides Flasterstein did.[7]

When Dean asked her what made her want to escape her situation, she recalled the 2011 incident at the science fiction convention, which made her wonder why she was not allowed to have friends like others her age. While she said that Godejohn took their idle discussions of murder into reality,[d] she accepts that she committed a crime and has to live with the consequences. Nonetheless, she has said that she hopes to help other abused victims.[7]

Victims of Munchausen by proxy abuse often avoid doctors and hospitals in their later lives because of lingering trust issues, according to expert Marc Feldman.[59] In Gypsy's book she tells Melissa Moore that when she leaves prison she wants to get a therapist, get work done on her nose, exercise and eat healthier.[16] According to her family, Dean, and Erin Lee Carr, a documentarian, Gypsy also exhibits at times the same sociopathic manipulative behaviors as her mother, who was for much of her life her only role model.[7] "She is already psychologically really compromised, and she's going to need as much family underpinning and support as she can get," Feldman told Vulture after viewing Carr's documentary Mommy Dead and Dearest, in which he appears. He also points out that post-traumatic stress disorder is likely to be an issue in her continuing development. "I hope they find someone wherever she chooses to settle who is willing to provide supportive psychotherapy".[60]

On June 27, 2022, she married Ryan Scott Anderson.[61][62][63] However, the two split three months after her prison release in March 2024.[64]

On September 29, 2023, the Missouri Department of Corrections confirmed that Gypsy had been granted parole, and she was released on December 28, 2023,[65] after serving 85% of her sentence, per state law.[66]

Medical community edit

Flasterstein, the pediatric neurologist who believed Gypsy was capable of walking on her own and wrote in his notes that he suspected Munchausen by proxy, says it was only the second such possible case he had ever come across. He learned of Dee Dee's murder later in 2015 when a former nurse emailed him the news story. "Poor Gypsy," he said. "She suffered all those years, and for no reason." He told Dean he wished he could have done more.[7]

Feldman, in talking about Carr's documentary with Vulture, faults Carr for making Flasterstein appear to be the story's hero. "[H]e had a gross misunderstanding of his obligations as a physician, as well as the legal requirements to report suspected abuse or neglect," Feldman said. The film accepts Flasterstein's claim that he was only required to make a report to Child Protective Services in the latter instance, but according to Feldman, once he had included Munchausen by proxy in his list of possible diagnoses, he was obligated to make a report. "This conundrum arises in case after case, where innumerable doctors have evaluated the patient, perhaps had questions they kept to themselves, and just proceeded to treat or make referrals and ditch the case that way."[60]

While a formal diagnosis of Munchausen by proxy for Dee Dee is impossible, Feldman told the Springfield News-Leader after Gypsy's guilty plea that he could confidently say Dee Dee had it based on what he knew about the case. "Gypsy was infantilized and kept away from her peers," he said. "She was little more than a tool for Dee Dee to navigate through the world the way she wanted to." He said it was "unprecedented" in the 24 years he had been researching the disorder for an abused child to have killed the abusive parent as Gypsy did.[59]

In popular culture edit

Films edit

HBO produced the documentary film Mommy Dead and Dearest (2017), directed by Erin Lee Carr, about the murder and its relationship to factitious disorder imposed on another. The TV film includes interrogation footage and exclusive interviews with Godejohn and Gypsy Blanchard.[67][68]

Television edit

On August 13, 2017, The Sony Entertainment Television channel series CID aired an episode titled "Death on Social Media" based on the case. It changed the setitng to India. According to Sony, the characters Aria and Aanchal were based on Gypsy and her mother Dee Dee Blanchard, respectively.[69]

On November 21, 2017, the CBS network talk show Dr. Phil, episode "Mother Knows Best: A Story of Munchausen by Proxy and Murder", featured interviews with Gypsy, her father Rod Blanchard and stepmother.[70][71]

On January 5, 2018, The American Broadcasting Company (ABC) news and information series Good Morning America aired an exclusive in-prison interview with Gypsy, in a segment entitled "Mother of All Murders".[72]

That same day; the ABC network news magazine series 20/20 episode "The Story of Gypsy Blanchard". It consisted of Gypsy's first network interview from prison as well as an interview with Godejohn.[73][74][75]

On January 29, 2018, The Investigation Discovery channel series James Patterson's Murder is Forever episode "Mother of All Murders", season 1, episode 2.[76][77]

On November 6, 2018, Investigation Discovery aired a two-hour documentary titled Gypsy's Revenge. Gypsy was interviewed while incarcerated. During the interview, she describes her relationship with Dee Dee. Rod, various relatives, friends, public officials and Godejohn are all interviewed.[78]

On January 26, 2019, Love You to Death aired on Lifetime, dramatizing the case as "inspired by true events". Marcia Gay Harden starred as Dee Dee, Emily Skeggs as Gypsy, Brennan Keel Cook starred as Nick, and Tate Donovan starred as Rod. Skeggs had to wear a bald cap for most of the scenes where her character was hairless.[79] "[W]hen I think about it, every teenager wants to murder their parents at some point," Harden told TV Insider.[80]

On March 20, 2019, the streaming service Hulu announced the true crime series The Act. The eight-episode miniseries is based on Michelle Dean's 2016 BuzzFeed article.[81] Dean was an executive producer and writer for the first season. Joey King played Gypsy and received an Emmy nomination for her performance; she shaved her head for the role.[82] Patricia Arquette played Dee Dee and won an Emmy for her performance.[83][84] Kristy Blanchard, one of Gypsy’s neighbors, claims that Michell Dean told her on the phone that Blanchard would get a 50% cut of the money that was made from the show itself.[85]Despite this, Gypsy, appearing to be upset about the show, threatened to sue over not having the consent to use her name and life story, no legal action was taken and it is reported that Gypsy said that out of anger.[85]

On July 13, 2019, Oxygen network aired Snapped: Killer Couples Gypsy Rose & Nick: A Love to Kill For, season 12 episode 1. It examines the relationship of Gypsy and Godejohn and features an interview with Godejohn from prison.[86]

September 27, 2019 Netflix web television series The Politician, the characters Infinity Jackson, Ricardo, and Dusty Jackson are respectively based on Gypsy Blanchard, Nicholas Godejohn and Dee Dee Blanchard.[87]

On January 5, 2024, about a week after Blanchard’s prison release, Lifetime TV network released a six-part docu-series titled "The Prison Confessions of Gypsy Rose Blanchard".[88]

See also edit

  • Julie Gregory, an Ohio woman who wrote a memoir in 2003, Sickened, about her mother's Munchausen by proxy abuse of her, which she tried to report to various health professionals
  • Wendi Michelle Scott, a Maryland woman with Munchausen by proxy who injected her four-year-old daughter with magnesium in 2007 and was sentenced to prison in 2008
  • Garnett Spears, a New York boy whose mother also had Munchausen by proxy, leading her to fatally poison him with table salt in 2014
  • Shauna Taylor, a Florida woman with Munchausen by proxy who deliberately destroyed her child's liver with over-the-counter drugs in 2013

Notes edit

  1. ^ Gypsy-Rose alleged that Godejohn raped her following the attack.[2][3]
  2. ^ The Missouri Department of Corrections lists her as one inch shorter, or 148 cm, and weighing 100 pounds (45 kg)[29]
  3. ^ Flasterstein denies it was him.[7]
  4. ^ The probable cause statement submitted with the search warrant application for the Godejohn house claims Gypsy-Rose told him to stab her mother.[44]

References edit

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External links edit