The Murder of Dee Dee Blanchard–The Woman Who Conned the Entire World Into Believing Her Daughter Was Sick

Fatim Hemraj

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Gypsy Rose and her mother Dee Dee Blanchard. Source.

When Gypsy Rose was seven she fell and suffered a minor cut on her knee, the kind all children who play on asphalt get. Rather than put a bandaid on it and move on, Dee Dee told her daughter she had both cancer and muscular dystrophy and that she could no longer walk. Dee Dee confined Gypsy Rose to a wheelchair for the next several years.

Dee Dee took Gypsy Rose out of school in kindergarten claiming she would be homeschooling. In reality, Gypsy taught herself how to read.

For a brief time, Dee Dee and Gypsy lived with Dee Dee’s parents in Lousiana. During their stay, Dee Dee was accused of poisoning her stepmother’s food with weedkiller, which not only made her stepmother ill but also made herself ill. Shortly after, Dee Dee’s parents began questioning whether Gypsy Rose was really sick and they confronted Dee Dee about abusing her daughter. In response, Dee Dee took Gypsy Rose and abruptly moved to Slidell, Lousiana, cutting off all contact with her parents.

In 2005, Hurricane Katrina destroyed Dee Dee and Gypsy Rose's home in Lousiana. Dee Dee reached out for help, portraying herself as a struggling single mother with a disabled child. The entire community felt for the Blanchard’s; many of them chipped in to help and the local media news outlets quickly picked up the story. The generous volunteers of Habitat for Humanity responded by building the two a beautiful home in Missouri, complete with a wheelchair ramp.

It was through considerable media attention Dee Dee was able to defraud many charities and organizations. Dee Dee and Gypsy Rose received free stays at the Ronald McDonald house, free flights to Kansas to visit specialists for Gypsy Rose's ‘condition(s)’, and free trips to Walt Disney World. Gypsy Rose also met her favourite singer Miranda Lambert through the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

Dee Dee would consistently shave Gypsy Rose's head to make it appear as if she was undergoing chemotherapy. She would apply a topical anesthetic to Gypsy Rose's gums prior to medical appointments. This would cause her to drool and appear to have severe mental incapabilities, as her mother had alleged.

The anesthetic caused Gypsy Rose's teeth to decay and the majority of them had to be removed. Gypsy Rose was forced to use an oxygen tank and a feeding tube. For twenty years, she was only fed PediaSure, a nutritional supplement.

Even though Gypsy could walk unassisted and eat solid foods, she was convinced by her mother that she was incredibly sick. Dee Dee took Gypsy Rose to several different doctors and insisted she with suffering from cancer, muscular dystrophy, vision impairment, hearing loss and seizures, all of which were untrue. Due to these false claims, Gypsy Rose was forced to go undergo a multitude of unneeded surgeries throughout her childhood.

Gypsy Rose was a perfectly healthy girl, yet she was nearly toothless, bald, and extremely malnourished. Her only ailments were a direct result of her mother’s abuse.

For fifteen years, Gypsy Rose did not even know how old she really was. Dee Dee had forged her birth certificate to make it appear that her daughter was four years younger than her true age; when she turned 18 she believed she had turned 14. With Gypsy Rose's appearance and small frame, no one questioned her age.

If Gypsy Rose was caught walking around her home or disobeying any of Dee Dee's orders she would be beaten with coat hangers or tied with a leash to her mother’s bedpost for weeks at a time.

Not only did Dee Dee abuse her child and use her for monetary gains, attention and sympathy, but she also defrauded many charities, her neighbours and her friends who all believed poor Gypsy Rose was a disabled child suffering from various illnesses.

Gypsy Rose never said a word during the medical appointments, she hoped a doctor would realize she was not sick and the entire scheme would be unveiled. Her mother would not be able to abuse her any longer, and the nightmare would finally be over.

Only one doctor, pediatric neurologist Bernardo Flasterstein, questioned Gypsy Rose's ‘illnesses’ and inability to walk. After many clear MRIs and blood tests conducted on Gypsy Rose, Dr. Flasterstein suggested that it was Dee Dee who was really sick.

Dr. Flasterstein informed Dee Dee he believed she was suffering from Munchausen syndrome by proxy, a condition in which, ‘a caregiver creates the appearance of health problems in another person, typically their child’ with the primary motive to gain attention.’ Those who are diagnosed with Munchausen are typically individuals who underwent neglect and abuse themselves.

Dee Dee never took Gypsy Rose back to Dr. Flasterstein, and Dr. Flastersein never reported Dee Dee to Social Services as Gypsy Rose had hoped he would.

Shortly after, an anonymous caller reported to the police their suspicions that Gypsy Rose was being abused by her mother. When an officer arrived at the Blanchard’s home for a welfare check, they spoke to Dee Dee, who once worked as a nurse’s aide and knew medical terminology, and ultimately decided Gypsy Rose was genuinely mentally and physically disabled as her mother had alleged.

It was around this time that Gypsy Rose, who was nineteen but believed she was fifteen, became suspicious and began to uncover the full extent of her mother’s lies. When Gypsy Rose saw paperwork stating her real birth year was 1991 and not 1995, she confronted her mother who claimed it was a typo.

In 2012, when Gypsy was 21 (but thought she was 17) she began talking to Nicholas Godejohn on a Christian Singles dating site. Nicholas was a man with a criminal record and a history of mental illness. The two quickly became enamoured with one another and for the next three years, Nicholas was Gypsy Rose's secret online boyfriend.

Over the years, Gypsy Rose confided in Nicholas about her mothers' abuse. With no help from medical professionals or the authorities, Gypsy Rose decided to take matters into her own hands; she asked Nicholas to kill her mother, and he agreed.

Sometime in June of 2015, Dee Dee and Gypsy Rose arrived home from yet another needless doctor's appointment. When Dee Dee went to bed, Gypsy Rose let Nicholas into the house and supplied him with a knife, gloves and duct tape. Nicholas crept into Dee Dee’s bedroom where she was sleeping and stabbed her multiple times in the back. Gypsy hid in the bathroom and covered her ears.

Following the murder, Nicholas had sex with Gypsy Rose in her mother's bedroom and the couple fled after stealing $4,000 in cash.

After arriving at Nicholas' home, Gypsy Rose logged into her mothers’ Facebook account from Nicholas’ computer and posted, “that bitch is dead!”

When the authorities arrived at the Blanchard home they were worried Gypsy Rose had been kidnapped, and that without her wheelchair, oxygen tank and feeding tube, she was at-risk. It wasn’t until witnesses reported seeing Gypsy Rose walking unassisted wearing a wig with Nicholas, that they realized she had something to do with her mother's death.

Authorities traced the Facebook post back to Nicholas’ home in Wisconsin and the couple was apprehended less than 48 hours later.

The police were shocked when they learned Gypsy Rose had no mental or physical disabilities. In addition, there were no medical records showing Gypsy Rose had been diagnosed with any illnesses whatsoever. It was at this time, Gypsy Rose finally told the authorities that her mother had been gaslighting and abusing her for her entire life.

The story in the media quickly changed from Gypsy Rose being a cold-blooded killer who murdered her own mother, to a victim, only trying to escape years of child abuse. It was Greene County sheriff Jim Arnott who stated, “things are not always what they appear.”

During the murder trial, the prosecutors painted Nicholas as a man with a small IQ suffering from mental illness who was enchanted by Gypsy Rose. They claimed he was blinded by love and manipulated by Gypsy Rose to murder Dee Dee.

It didn’t work —Nicholas was found guilty of first-degree murder and armed criminal action. He was sentenced to life in prison for the first-degree murder charge, and 25 years for the latter.

When asked how he felt about killing Gypsy Rose's mother in an interview with 20/20 from prison, Nicholas responded,

“I felt horrible about it. When me and her [Gypsy] were in the hotel room, she kept on telling me, ‘Stop crying.’ [Gypsy] comforted me about it. I prayed once I got here. I tried to get her mother’s soul to forgive me.”

In July of 2015, Gypsy Rose accepted a plea-bargain for second-degree murder and was sentenced to ten years in prison.

Dee Dee’s friends and neighbours were completely distraught upon the discovery of her abominable lies and deceit. They felt taken advantage of and shamed themselves for believing her stories without question. Some wondered whether Gypsy was involved in the facade herself.

Dee Dee’s family did not feel sorrow after her death. Her father and step-mother were of the opinion Dee Dee got what she deserved. They refused to pay for her funeral and later flushed her ashes down the toilet.

Gypsy Rose is currently serving her 10-year-sentence at the Chillicothe Correctional Center in Missouri. Over the years, many have advocated for her early release, including her father Rod who created a petition on Change.org. Gypsy and her story have been featured on Dr. Phil, Good Morning America and an 8-episode miniseries called The Act which was released in 2019.

When asked about her life in prison, Gypsy Rose compared it to her life under Dee Dee’s tight grasp:

“In some ways, they’re the same, but now I’m so much freer. The prison I was living in before with my mom, it was like I couldn’t walk, I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t have friends. Over here, I feel like I’m freer in prison than living with my mom. [I can] live like a normal woman.”

Before she found out the true scope of Dee Dee’s lies, Gypsy Rose viewed her as not only her mother and caretaker but also her best friend: “We got along so perfect. You know, I saw her as an angel that can do no wrong.” Gypsy Rose stated she believed Dee Dee would have been the perfect mother for a child who was truly sick.

While in prison, Gypsy Rose fell in love with photography, she received her GED and in April of 2019, she announced she was engaged to her penpal turned fiancé (name undisclosed) who began writing to her a year and a half prior. In an interview with People, Fancy Macelli was overcome with joy for her friend Gypsy Rose:

“She deserves to be in love and she deserves to have somebody who cares about her. He’s just there for her.”

Sources: Bustle, theCinemaholic, Wikipedia, ABC News, Springfield News-Leader, People, Good Housekeeping, USA Today

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