Gypsy Rose Blanchard was carefully watched over by her mother, but was Dee Dee Blanchard ultimately doing more harm than good?
There was something about Gypsy Rose Blanchard and her mother Dee Dee Blanchard that you couldn’t help but love.
A daughter, stricken by cancer, muscular dystrophy, and a host of other diseases but still smiling every chance she got, and a mother devoted to giving her daughter everything she ever wanted. They were the picture of inspiration and hope.
So, when Dee Dee turned up dead, bludgeoned to death in her own home with her sickly daughter nowhere to be found, the community descended into chaos. There was no way the girl could survive on her own, they thought. Even worse, what if the person who killed Dee Dee had kidnapped Gypsy Rose?
A manhunt was ordered for Gypsy Rose and to everyone’s delight, she was found just one day later. But the Gypsy Rose found was hardly the same girl who had gone missing. Rather than a bald, thin, wheelchair-bound cancer patient, the police found a strong young woman, walking and eating on her own.
Questions immediately arose about the beloved mother-daughter duo. How had this girl changed so rapidly overnight? Had she ever really been sick? And, most importantly, had she been involved in what had happened to Dee Dee Blanchard?
Gypsy Rose Blanchard As A Child
When Gypsy Rose was an infant, Dee Dee brought her to the hospital, convinced she was suffering from sleep apnea. Despite no sign of the disease, Dee Dee remained convinced, eventually determining herself that Gypsy Rose had an unspecified chromosomal disorder. From then on, she watched her daughter like a hawk, fearing disaster could strike at any moment.
When Gypsy Rose was around eight years old, she fell off of her grandfather’s motorcycle. Dee Dee immediately took her to the hospital, where she was treated for a minor abrasion to her knee, but Dee Dee was unconvinced. The accident, she said, had obviously resulted in something much worse and Gypsy Rose would need several surgeries if she ever hoped to walk again. Until then, she decided, Gypsy Rose would remain in a wheelchair as to not aggravate her knee further.
Dee Dee moved out of her parents’ house as soon as they began to question Gypsy Rose’s condition, finding a run-down apartment and living on disability checks she collected from Gypsy’s illness.
After taking her daughter to a hospital in New Orleans, she claimed that on top of her chromosomal disorder and muscular dystrophy, Gypsy Rose was now suffering from hearing and vision problems. Additionally, she claimed Gypsy Rose had begun to suffer from seizures. While the tests showed no signs of any of the ailments Dee Dee claimed her daughter had, they nonetheless prescribed her with anti-seizure medication and generic pain meds.
In 2005, Hurricane Katrina forced Dee Dee and Gypsy Rose to move north to Aurora, Missouri.
There, the two became something of a pair of celebrities, acting as champions for the rights of the disabled and the sick. Habitat for Humanity built them a home with a wheelchair ramp and a hot tub, and the Make-A-Wish Foundation sent them on multiple trips to Walt Disney World and gave them backstage passes to a Miranda Lambert concert.
Meanwhile, the press they received through the various foundations attracted the attention of doctors nationwide. Before long, specialists were reaching out to Dee Dee and Gypsy Rose to see if there was anything they could do. One of these doctors, a pediatric neurologist from Springfield named Bernardo Flasterstein, offered to see her at his clinic.
While there, however, he discovered something startling. Not only did Gypsy not have muscular dystrophy, she didn’t have anything else that Dee Dee claimed she had.
“I don’t see any reason why she doesn’t walk,” he told Dee Dee. When Dee Dee brushed him off, he began to make calls to doctors in New Orleans. Though Dee Dee claimed the hurricane had washed away all of Gypsy Rose’s records, Flasterstein was able to find doctors whose records had survived. After talking to them and confirming once again that Gypsy Rose was, for all intents and purposes, a healthy child, he began to suspect that the real illness may lie with Dee Dee.
Unbeknownst to him, Gypsy Rose had begun to suspect the same thing.
Dee Dee Blanchard’s Lies Begin To Unravel
In 2010, though Dee Dee had told everyone she was 14, Gypsy Rose was 19 years old. And, she knew she wasn’t sick. She’d known for a while, and ever since then, she’d been attempting to escape from her mother.
One night she showed up at her neighbor’s door, standing on her own two feet, begging for a ride to a hospital. Dee Dee had quickly intervened and explained the whole thing away, a talent she had cultivated over the years.
Any time that Gypsy Rose began to stray, become independent, or suggest that she was anything but a small, innocent child suffering from a deadly illness, Dee Dee would step in and explain that Gypsy Rose’s mind was addled by disease.
She’d say that she was mentally challenged, or that the drugs had rendered it impossible for her to know what she was talking about. Because of their loveable nature and their inspirational bond, people believed in the story.
Gypsy Rose Blanchard And Nicholas Godejohn Begin Plotting The Murder
After the incident with the neighbor, Gypsy Rose began using the internet after Dee Dee went to bed to meet men in online chat rooms. Though her mother chained her to her bed and threatened to smash her fingers with a hammer when she found out, Gypsy Rose continued to chat with the men, hoping one of them could save her.
Finally, in 2012, she met Nicholas Godejohn, a 23-year-old man from Wisconsin. Godejohn had a criminal record for indecent exposure and a history of mental illness, though neither of those dissuaded Gypsy Rose. A few months after meeting, Nicholas Godejohn came to visit Gypsy Rose, and while Dee Dee was on a rare solo outing, the two had sex. After that, they began to plan Dee Dee’s murder.
Gypsy Rose had been waiting for someone to come along and save her, and Nicholas Godejohn seemed just the one to do it. Through Facebook messages, the two planned the demise of Dee Dee. Godejohn would wait until Dee Dee had gone to bed, and then Gypsy Rose would let him in and he would do the deed.
Then, one night in mid-June 2015, it was done. While she was sleeping, Nicholas Godejohn bludgeoned Dee Dee in bed while Gypsy listened at the door. After she was dead, the two fled, separating at a Greyhound station.
After Gypsy Rose Blanchard was found and her story was shared, the sympathy that had followed Dee Dee shifted to Gypsy Rose.
Those who had expressed sadness over Dee Dee’s death were now enraged that she could treat a child like that for so many years. Eventually, psychiatrists labeled Gypsy Rose a victim of child abuse, citing Munchausen syndrome by proxy as the root of Dee Dee’s behavior. However, though public opinion had all but shifted against her, the issue of her murder still stood.
Eventually, Gypsy Rose confessed that she had hired Nicholas Godejohn to kill her mother. The crime has since become fodder for news outlets and true crime television programming, including The Act, a series about the case from Hulu, and HBO’s Mommy Dead and Dearest.
As for Gypsy Rose herself, the 24-year-old was sentenced to 10 years in prison after pleading guilty to second-degree murder (she’ll be eligible for parole in 2024) while Nicholas Godejohn has been sentenced to life in prison. In prison, Gypsy Rose researched her mother’s condition and has since come to terms with the abuse she suffered. She is remorseful for the murder but maintains she is better off without her.
“I feel like I’m freer in prison, than living with my mom,” she said in an interview in 2018. “Because now, I’m allowed to… just live like a normal woman.”
After learning about Gypsy Rose Blanchard and the murder of her mother Dee Dee Blanchard with the help of Nicholas Godejohn, read about Elisabeth Fritzl, the girl who was kept as a captive in her own basement for 24 years by her father. Then, discover the story of Dolly Osterreich, who kept her secret lover hidden in her attic.