Gypsy Rose Blanchard was born in July 1991 and is the only daughter that Rod Blanchard and Claudine “Dee Dee” Pitre shared together following a short lived relationship and marriage.
Rod and Dee Dee met when he was 17 and she was 24. They dated for a while before discovering that Dee Dee was expecting a baby. Conscious of his roots and his family values, Rod, at the age of 17 proposed to Dee Dee and they married soon after. On the morning of Rod’s 18th birthday he awoke to the realisation that he had done the wrong thing, and wasn’t in love with Dee Dee. He left her shortly after this, but remained in her life for the baby.
After Gypsy was born, Rod remained in her life as a doting father. When Gypsy was 3 months old, Dee Dee informed Rod that she had some concerns about their daughter. She believed that Gypsy was suffering from sleep apnea and that she was going to take her for some tests at the hospital. Tests came back as normal, however Dee Dee told Rod that Gypsy would need to sleep with the help of a breathing machine. Not only did she break the news of this illness to the worried father, but also informed him of other issues that Gypsy had due to a “chromosome disorder”. Issues that Gypsy suffered from due to her disorder also included eyesight problems, hearing difficulties, digestive issues, learning difficulties and problems with her mobility. By the time she was 7 years old, Gypsy was wheelchair bound and was also battling leukaemia. Dee Dee kept Gypsy’s hair shaved in order for it to remain “neat”. She informed Rod that his daughter was unlikely to survive beyond her teen years, and urged him not to inform Gypsy of her real age due to her being “unable to understand” the seriousness of her illness’.
Gypsy now relied on a feeding tube and the care of her mother in order to supply the vast amounts of medication that she needed. Due to the numerous doctors visits and the abundance of diagnosis’ , family friends and the community all rallied around the single mother and her sick daughter. They were provided with financial support, given travel benefits, trips away and appeared on many local news programs that helped fuel the fundraising.
When Dee Dee and Gypsy fell victim to hurricane Katrina, the charity Habitat for Humanity provided them with a new home in Missouri, in order for them to remain safe and sheltered whilst dealing with such a difficult prognosis. Other well known charities such as Make a Wish and Ronald McDonald House also provided an abundance of support for the family. They enjoyed many trips away, including to Disney Land due to the fact that Gypsy was a huge fan of the movies.
As Gypsy matured, she began to understand better her conditions and became troubled and upset about the way she was living. She was sheltered and had little understanding of every day life, morals and values. She had no one to talk to apart from her mother who had by this point made sure that Gypsy would remain with her and only her.
At this point, Gypsy knew that she could in actual fact, walk unaided despite her mother telling her that she should remain in a wheelchair. No one knew about this fact apart from Dee Dee and Gypsy Rose.
It is during this time that Gypsy, now 18 began using the internet, and in particular dating websites in order to gain some interaction from other teenagers her age.
Gypsy soon began an online relationship with a young man named Nicholas Godejohn. They spoke every day and grew extremely close. Gypsy was forbidden from meeting anyone or doing anything without her mothers permission. With that in mind, the pair arranged to “bump into each other” one evening whilst Dee Dee and Gypsy were visiting the movies. Dee Dee was instantly displeased with her daughters new friend and made her feelings clear.
After their first meeting, the pair continued their relationship online and Gypsy eventually confessed to Godejohn that she could in fact walk, and that her mother was forcing her to keep up the charade that she was disabled. As the months went on, Gypsy opened up to Nicholas, and would tell him how miserable she was living the life that her mother had manufactured for her. She wanted to escape this way of life and seemed to be willing to stop at nothing in order to experience freedom for the first time in her life…..
A worrying status appears on Gypsy and Dee Dee’s shared Facebook page reading “That bitch is dead!” shortly followed by another, longer comment reading “I f*****g slashed that fat pig and ra*ed her sweet innocent daughter, her scream was so f****g loud LOL”
Friends and family of the pair were quick to react to this and were rallying around trying to find out what had happened and why such graphic messages had been left on their social media.
The police were called by concerned friends and were sent to investigate the Blanchard home. It appeared undisturbed and Dee Dee’s van was still parked on the drive. A search warrant was obtained and the police gained entry to the home.
There, they were met with a grisly scene. Lying cold and motionless in her bed, was Dee Dee Blanchard. She was face down and had quite clearly suffered multiple stab wounds and appeared to have been dead for a couple of days. There was no sign of Gypsy in the home, other than her wheelchair that had been haphazardly abandoned in the bathroom of the house.
The house was immediately sealed off as a crime scene and the search began to locate Gypsy, who at this point, the police feared may have met the same fate as her mother.
Police began their search for Gypsy Rose by using the IP address of the device or computer that left the sinister status updates. They traced this to an address in Big Bend, Wisconsin.
Sure enough, Gypsy and Nick were tracked down at the address. Gypsy, to the shock of the police appeared in good health and was walking unaided and was coherent. The couple also had thousands of dollars worth of cash on them.
This immediately heightened the polices’ already growing suspicions that all wasn’t quite as it might seem with the couple and Gypsy in particular. It was decided to bring the pair in for questioning regarding the murder of Dee Dee.
When the news was broken to Gypsy, she appeared devastated and insisted with detectives that she knew nothing of the murder. She told how her mother was her best and only friend and that she would never see her come to any harm. The police however saw through this ruse and after continuing to question Gypsy, were finally rewarded with the confession that they’d be trying to pry out of her. Nicholas Godejohn was responsible for the murder of her mother and she had been the person behind the deadly plan, asking Nick; “Would you kill my mother for me?”.
It transpired that after their first meeting and Gypsy breaking the news to Nick that she was suffering more than ever at the hands of her mother, a plan was born. This plan was christened “plan b” by Gypsy and involved her getting the funds together for Nick to be able to travel to her home in Missouri in order to finally end the life of her mother.
Gypsy waited for Dee Dee to go to bed for the night and then gave the signal for Nick to enter the home. Once in, she handed him everything he’d need to commit the crime. She then retreated to the bathroom and listened in whilst Nick butchered her mother.
The police now had to get to work on finding out what motivated the couple to commit such a violent crime towards a caring and doting mother.
Gypsy revealed that her mother had a strong hold over her throughout her life, and that she was on an abundance of medications for her various illnesses. When she arrived in custody, all the police knew was that Gypsy could walk and that she didn’t have any reliance on her wheelchair. She was then sent to the medical examiner where she underwent further tests to conclude whether she did indeed suffer from the vast amount of illnesses and diseases that her mother had been medicating her for over the years.
All of Gypsy’s tests came back clear, she had a clean bill of health. She was also several years older than she believed she was, after it transpired that Dee Dee had managed to forge several birth certificates.
As it turned out, Dee Dee had been a master of forgery. Every illness that Gypsy supposedly suffered from was created in her mind in order to gain financial and emotional support. Every time a doctor would show suspicion, Dee Dee would leave the practice and take Gypsy elsewhere, with her own version of Gypsy’s medical history in tow. She had amassed thousands of dollars worth of donations from various charities, including the home she was killed in.
Medical experts concluded that Dee Dee was suffering from what was known as Munchhausen's by proxy syndrome. This is a psychological disorder in which the sufferer believes they are, and convinces other people that they are suffering from serious illness. Munchhausen’s by proxy, is a form of abuse when the sufferer leads people to believe that the person they are caring for is the one who is unwell. In Dee Dee’s case, she had used Gypsy to carry out her story and in turn gained a huge outpouring of sympathy and help by coming across as a struggling single mother of a terminally ill child.
With this revelation in mind, the police had to decide on charges that were to be bought towards Gypsy. As a rule, first degree murder carries either life in prison without parole or a death sentence in Missouri where the family were from. However, due to the case and its extremely unique detail, this sentence was not sought after for Gypsy or Nick thanks to County prosecutor Dan Patterson. Instead, after all medical records had been looked at extensively and with the background of abuse that was suffered at the hands of her mother, Gypsy was offered a plea deal of second degree murder. In July 2015, Gypsy Rose Blanchard reached a plea bargain agreement and was sentenced to 10 years in prison.
How is Gypsy doing now?
Since her incarceration, Gypsy has fully recovered from the physical affects of her abuse. The site where her feeding tube was permanently stitched into her stomach has healed and she has gained weight after being severely malnourished. Her hair has grown back and she enjoys using the rec yard and exercising. She is said to be “thriving” in prison and has no long term side effects from the medication given to her by her mother for many years.
She is in fact, due for parole in 2024. She will be reunited with her father Rod and her stepmother Kristy. She will be in her early 30’s and will be eager to find out what life is really about without the shadow of her mothers abuse over her. She is remorseful of the events that transpired that June evening, but has also said that she believes her time in prison will be more tolerable than the years she spent suffering at the hands of Dee Dee.
Nicholas Godejohn is yet to be sentenced but is expected to get a longer term than Gypsy due to his involvement in the crime.
Mommy Dead and Dearest by HBO explores Gypsy and Dee Dee’s story in wonderful detail, including interviews with Gypsy herself, her family and her friends. Available to watch on YouTube.
The wonderful guys over at Generation Why released an excellent episode discussing this case last year. Visit genwhypod.com and search for episode 234. You can also subscribe to their podcast via iTunes. I couldn’t recommend this podcast more, its certainly saved me on many boring car journeys and quiet afternoons at work!