The untold truth of Gypsy Rose Blanchard
Gypsy Rose Blanchard didn’t know her age. She just knew that she was deathly ill, battling leukemia, muscular dystrophy, sleep apnea, epilepsy and a host of other medical problems. She wasn’t allowed to walk, even though she could. She knew she got a Make-A-Wish Foundation trip to Disney World, and that Habitat for Humanity built her family a home after Hurricane Katrina destroyed her mother Dee Dee Blanchard’s property. She also knew she needed to get out.
Dee Dee suffered from Munchausen by proxy (factitious disorder imposed on another), a mental disorder in which a caretaker — often a parent —exaggerates, fabricates, or in some cases even causes illness in another person, usually their child, in order to get attention for themselves. The disorder is often considered a form of child abuse, and Gypsy was confined to a wheelchair and hospital rooms for much of her life, even though she wasn’t actually sick.
Feeling trapped, Gypsy met a man online who she saw as a key to her escape. She and then-boyfriend Nicholas Godejohn conspired to kill Dee Dee, who was later found “stabbed to death” in her Springfield, Mo., home in June 2015, according to People. Godejohn and Gypsy were arrested and charged with murder. Even though they’re both behind bars, Gypsy, whose case was dramatized in Hulu’s The Act, and portrayed in the HBO documentary Mommy Dead And Dearest (2017), says that she has never felt more free. This is the untold truth of Gypsy Rose Blanchard.
She tried escaping prior to the murder
In addition to the psychological abuse Gypsy Rose Blanchard suffered at the hands of her mother’s Munchausen by proxy syndrome, she claims that Dee Dee Blanchard was also physically abusive. Gypsy Rose told Amy Robach on 20/20 that when she got old enough to long for a life outside of her home, she and Dee Dee began to argue (sometimes for several days at a time), after which she alleges that Dee Dee would sometimes not feed her for “two days or so” as punishment. In 2011, Dee Dee became physically violent, at times “[hitting Gypsy Rose] with a coat hanger.”
The abuse was bad enough that Gypsy Rose tried to escape. She said that she once ran away from home, after which she was literally held captive by her mother. “She physically chained me to the bed, and put bells on the doors … anybody that I probably would’ve trusted that I was going through a phase and to tell her if I was doing anything behind her back” Gypsy Rose recalled.
In February 2011, Gypsy Rose, then 19, met up with a 35-year-old man at a sci-fi convention, Kim Blanchard (a neighbor of no relation) told Buzzfeed News. The man invited Gypsy Rose to his hotel room. Dee Dee found out and brought papers claiming Gypsy Rose was a minor. When Dee Dee and Gypsy Rose returned home, Dee Dee reportedly took a hammer to their computer.
She got healthier in prison
Despite Dee Dee Blanchard claiming that Gypsy suffered from illnesses including muscular dystrophy, leukemia, sleep apnea, and asthma, Gypsy has just one occasional physical condition: A lazy eye. What’s more, Gypsy’s health reportedly improved since her incarceration, no doubt thanks to her no longer taking the many medications her mother was giving her. Gypsy’s attorney, Michael Stanfield, told BuzzFeed News that while most inmates lose weight in prison because the food isn’t exactly fine cuisine, the opposite happened for Gypsy, who gained 14 pounds in jail while waiting to enter a plea in her case.
Family friend Kim Blanchard (no relation) said of Gypsy’s appearance, “It was like she had a costume on that whole time and then took it off.”
Gypsy admitted that she knew she wasn’t as unhealthy as her mother claimed. She explained to ABC News, “I knew that I didn’t need the feeding tube. I knew that I could eat. I knew that I could walk. But I did believe my mother when she said I had leukemia.” Though the ailments weren’t real, the surgeries and their effects were. The removal of Gypsy’s salivary glands — a surgery her mother allegedly instigated by using “a numbing agent to numb [Gypsy’s] gums, which caused her to drool” — was particularly painful. Gypsy claimed the numbing agent may have also contributed to her tooth loss.
She claims her ex was controlling
Nicholas Godejohn has reportedly tried to keep in touch with Gypsy Rose Blanchard since their arrests, but she doesn’t want to communicate with him, family friend Fancy Macelli told In Touch Weekly. Godejohn, for his part, has demonstrated a possibly unhealthy obsession with Gypsy, who he met on a Christian dating website in 2012. He described her as his “soulmate,” telling ABC News, “I loved Gypsy to the point where I would … do anything for her. I’ve proven that with what I did. Unfortunately, because of how far I went, I feel as if she’s betrayed me. I feel that she’s abandoned me.”
Dee Dee knew about Godejohn, as Gypsy introduced them in hopes of getting Dee Dee’s approval of her boyfriend. It backfired. “She got jealous, because I was spending a little too much attention on him, and she had ordered me to stay away from him,” Gypsy told ABC News. “And needless to say, that was a very long argument that lasted a couple weeks — yelling, throwing things, calling me names: b***h, s**t, w***e.”
Gypsy further told the outlet that she now believes Godejohn was similar to her mother. “Both of them were very controlling. I feel like I was trained my whole life to do as I was told, and I feel like he wanted that for a girlfriend.” She also told Dr. Phil that Godejohn had “multiple personalities that were violent and scary.”
Nicholas Godejohn claims Gypsy Rose manipulated him
In November 2018, Ozarks First reported that Nicholas Godejohn told local radio station KOLR10 that he now regrets his actions, because he believes Gypsy Rose “manipulated” him into the murder. His attorney claims that Godejohn has since been diagnosed with autism. Godejohn’s defense team asked a judge to allow mental health experts to testify that being on the spectrum impaired his judgment leading up to the murder.
Springfield News-Leader reported that the defense’s expert, Dr. Kent Franks, claimed Godejohn was at level 2 on the autism spectrum, meaning he was intellectually disabled and needed help to make decisions, allegedly operating at the level of a 10- or 11-year-old child. However, Dr. Robert Denney, a psychologist testifying for the prosecution, claimed Godejohn was at level 1 on the autism spectrum and displayed sound judgment in a test.
For his part, Godejohn feels his own judgment was impaired at the time of the murder. “I wish I would have known it was more manipulation than love cause if I would have known that, I probably would not have been in this situation I’m in,” Godejohn said (via Ozarks First). “Due to my main disability, it’s pretty easy for me to be deceived.”
Gypsy told ABC News of her ex, “I don’t hate him. I feel sorry for him … that somebody could do something so heartless and not express remorse and not feel like he’s responsible for it.”
Blanchard and Godejohn left behind a ton of evidence
When Gypsy Rose Blanchard and Nicholas Godejohn killed Dee Dee Blanchard, they did something more seasoned criminals wouldn’t: They left a very, very obvious trail. ABC News (via Women’s Health) reported that the pair had a slew of receipts, bus tickets, and surveillance camera footage pinning the crime on them.
“This is like a crime I call ‘Hansel and Gretel,’ where you drop the clues along the way as you go,” former FBI agent Brad Garrett told the outlet. “They couldn’t have laid it out better for the police.” Gypsy’s own attorney, public defender Mike Stanfield, admitted, “In my ten years of practice, this case had by far the most discovery that I’ve ever had — close to 100 CDs worth of papers, photos, digital information.” Still, Gypsy said she didn’t think she’d ever get caught — and she even lied about her age to investigators (saying she was 19 even though her medical insurance listed her as 23) when she was first questioned in the case.
One of those pieces of evidence was the Facebook post the couple posted after Dee Dee’s murder. Police were easily able to trace the Facebook post to Godejohn’s home, ABC News reported, though Gypsy admitted she was the one who wrote it because she wanted someone to find Dee Dee’s body and give her “a proper burial.”
Some doctors suspected Dee Dee Blanchard’s ruse
Gypsy Rose Blanchard had at least one physician who didn’t buy Dee Dee’s allegations about her daughter’s illness: Neurologist Dr. Bernardo Flasterstein (above). He told ABC News that when he examined Gypsy for the muscular dystrophy and cerebral palsy that Dee Dee insisted her daughter had, he had a feeling something was amiss. “There was nothing to support either,” Flasterstein recalled. “That kind of made me very suspicious.” His suspicions grew when, after he told Dee Dee that he believed Gypsy’s prior diagnoses were incorrect, instead of being relieved, Dee Dee grew furious and stormed out, screaming to his nurses that Flasterstein was a quack. Flasterstein then wrote Gypsy’s primary care physician a letter saying he suspected Dee Dee had Munchausen’s by proxy (describing Dee Dee as “not a good historian”), but didn’t think the situation was dire enough to contact child protective services.
He wasn’t the only doctor to suspect Dee Dee was the one who was sick. A police report obtained by ABC News claims that one of Gypsy’s doctors notified authorities that “could not find any symptoms that support what Dee Dee alleges to be wrong with her daughter.” Child services visited the Blanchards’ home twice but claimed to not see anything untoward.
Her father wants to repair their relationship
Gypsy Rose Blanchard was estranged from her father, Rod Blanchard (above), and told ABC News that she never knew her father even paid child support for her until after her mother’s murder. Rod says the estrangement was by Dee Dee’s design. He told Fox News, “[Dee Dee] spent a lot of time making sure that there was distance between us. A lot of times I would call Gypsy and she wouldn’t be available to talk to me, but the next day she was … I would call her on her birthday, but Dee Dee would tell me, ‘Don’t tell her it’s her 18th birthday. I don’t want to tell her how old she is.’ I just thought some of that was kind of weird.”
He added, “She was always scared that I would get close to Gypsy. It bothered me. But I was always hoping that Gypsy would get old enough that one day we could bond. It got hard, it really did. But I didn’t want to push it too far. Dee Dee had full custody and could cut me off completely from any kind of relationship we already had. There was a fine line I had to walk with her.”
Rod says that though Gypsy is in prison, their relationship has actually improved since Dee Dee’s death (which he said Dee Dee “asked for”). They email frequently and Gypsy calls him often.
She still lies occasionally
Gypsy Rose Blanchard feels guilty for the deception her mother led, but she doesn’t feel like she deceived anyone because she, too, was a victim of Dee Dee’s scam. “I feel like I was just as used as everybody else,” Gypsy told BuzzFeed News. “She used me as a pawn. I was in the dark about it. The only thing I knew was that I could walk, and that I could eat. As for everything else … Well, she’d shave my hair off. And she’d say, ‘It’s gonna fall out anyway, so let’s keep it nice and neat!'”
The site reported that Gypsy’s father, Rod, and stepmother Kristy “still catch Gypsy in small lies about her life, things she’s clearly afraid to be frank with them about,” but they didn’t specify exactly what those lies were. Kristy admitted, “Of course we want her to get better about that.”
She thinks she should have a shorter prison sentence
Gypsy Rose Blanchard believes she should be in prison, but not necessarily for a decade. She explained on Dr. Phil, “I believe firmly that, no matter what, murder is not okay. But at the same time, I don’t believe I deserve as many years as I got. … I do believe that I do deserve to spend some time in prison for that crime. But also, I understand why it happened, and I don’t believe that I’m in the right place to get the help that I need.”
As of this writing, Blanchard is serving at 10-year sentence as a result of her guilty plea to second degree murder. Despite being behind bars, Blanchard confessed that she actually feels “freer” in prison than she did when she lived with her mother — which she said was basically like being in a different type of prison. “The prison that I was living in before, with my mom, it’s like — I couldn’t walk. I couldn’t eat. I couldn’t have friends. I couldn’t go outside … and play with friends or anything,” she told ABC News. “Over here, I feel like I’m freer in prison, than with living with my mom. Because now, I’m allowed to … just live like a normal woman.”