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The murder of Dee Dee Blanchard: The facts

A family photo of Dee Dee Blanchard with her young daughter, Gypsy Rose Blanchard
Image: The Prison Confessions of Gypsy Rose Blanchard

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The Prison Confessions of Gypsy Rose Blanchard finds Gypsy Rose Blanchard in prison on the eve of her parole hearing as she recounts her emotional journey; being forced to remain a child, held prisoner by her own mother and the unfathomable choice she made in order to survive. The show is available on demand to Sky and Virgin customers as well as on Crime + Investigation Play.

Gypsy Rose: Life After Lock Up is a brand new documentary series that follows Gypsy's new start after her release from prison, while she struggles to confront her past. It chronicles the story of her life, what led to her mother's murder and what she plans to do next. The series is airing Mondays at 9pm on Crime + Investigation and also streaming weekly on Crime + Investigation Play.

On 14th June 2015, friends of Dee Dee and Gypsy Rose Blanchard found a very disturbing post on the mother and daughter's joint Facebook profile. The post and accompanying comments suggested that a violent murder and sexual assault had taken place. Concerned friends were worried for Dee Dee and Gypsy Rose's safety but also hoped that the Facebook status was just a hoax.

Dee Dee and Gypsy lived together in Springfield, Missouri and were warmly welcomed into the area after moving from the New Orleans suburb of Slidell. The move had been prompted after Hurricane Katrina devastated the area in August 2005. After their apartment was destroyed, they found temporary solace in a shelter in Covington that had been set up for individuals with special needs. Dee Dee said that Gypsy’s medical records and birth certificate had been lost to the hurricane, but explained that Gypsy had a catalogue of problems, including muscular dystrophy, sleep apnoea, and an unspecified chromosomal disorder.

Dee Dee became an active member of the community, sharing the tragic story of Gypsy's numerous afflictions. She painted a picture of a frail, helpless girl who battled leukaemia, epilepsy, and asthma, further emphasising that Gypsy possessed the mental capacity of a seven-year-old due to brain damage resulting from premature birth. Gypsy's appearance matched the narrative; confined to a wheelchair, she relied on a feeding tube for sustenance, presenting a sorrowful sight to those who encountered her.

The mother sought medical attention for her daughter from countless doctors, undergoing surgeries and receiving a myriad of medications. Their tale of struggle resonated deeply within the hearts of all who crossed their path. The local news outlets saw their story as a beacon of hope, a heart-warming account of a community rallying behind a mother and her daughter in the face of adversity, fuelled by goodwill and faith.

In the spirit of compassion, generous individuals flocked to their aid. Gypsy was crowned ‘queen for the day’ at a Mardi Gras parade, and the pair received numerous trips to Disney World. Yet, despite the outpouring of support and the best medical treatments, Gypsy appeared to defy the natural progression of time, seemingly aging in reverse. Her epilepsy medication, Tegretol, had inflicted irreversible damage to her teeth, leaving them crumbling, while her physical fragility continued to worsen.

Gypsy Rose Blanchard
Image: The Prison Confessions of Gypsy Rose Blanchard

After living in the shelter for several months, a doctor suggested Dee Dee and Gypsy be relocated to Missouri, where Dee Dee was born and they arranged for a helicopter to airlift them. They settled down in a home fully paid for by Habitat for Humanity. When they arrived, the community poured its heart and soul into providing everything that the duo could have possibly needed, including household items, groceries and gift cards for local businesses.

When the disturbing Facebook comments were noticed by concerned friends of Dee Dee and Gypsy in June 2015, authorities were contacted and asked to perform a welfare check. They embarked on the home and entered. They found Dee Dee face-down on her bed with stab wounds peppered all across her back. Gypsy, however, was nowhere to be seen.

Upon the gruesome discovery inside the Blanchard home, the community was worried about the welfare of Gypsy. They were concerned that something nefarious had happened to her as well, and if she somehow managed to escape, she had a plethora of medical conditions that needed to be tended to 24/7.

Tracing the source of the disturbing Facebook posts proved to be a crucial breakthrough for detectives working on the murder case. The digital breadcrumbs led them to a residence in Big Bend, registered under the name of a 26-year-old man, Nicholas Godejohn. Acting swiftly, officers arrived at the location around 3am the following morning. Inside the residence, they made an unexpected discovery - Gypsy, unharmed, standing alongside Nicholas. Intriguingly, she was able to walk unaided, a stark contrast to the wheelchair-bound persona she had previously presented to the world.

An investigation revealed that Dee Dee had been committing a long financial fraud scheme that involved pretending that Gypsy was ill when in fact she wasn’t. While Dee Dee claimed that Gypsy was much younger, she was actually a 23-year-old woman, who was totally healthy. All of the ailments that Gypsy had allegedly suffered had been fabricated by her mother.

Dee Dee presented herself as her daughter’s devoted caregiver, while Gypsy had spent the first 20 years of her life being subjected to unnecessary medical treatments, forced to use a wheelchair and fed through a tube. Gypsy was also denied any semblance of a normal life; she had only attended school until the second grade and was forbidden from making friends or leaving the home without her mother present. According to medical experts, Dee Dee was most likely suffering from Munchausen syndrome by proxy, a mental condition in which a caretaker exaggerates, fabricates, or induces illnesses in the person under the care to elicit sympathy or attention.

In 2012, Gypsy turned to the internet when her mother was asleep and set up a profile on a Christian dating website. Here, she met Nicholas Godejohn. They struck up a relationship that was conducted solely over the internet for the next two and a half years. In March 2015, they came up with a plan to meet in person. The idea was for Dee Dee to be present in the hopes she would like Godejohn and accept the relationship.

However, the plan failed and Dee Dee reportedly forbid Gypsy from seeing Godejohn. The relationship continued privately, and Gypsy began plotting her mother’s murder as a way to escape her controlling behaviour. She later commented that she didn’t report the abuse because she didn’t expect the police would believe her. On the morning of the murder, Godejohn travelled to Gypsy’s home and waited for her to text him when her mother had fallen asleep.

After the text, he arrived at the Blanchard home where Gypsy handed him a knife. She then went into the bathroom while Godejohn stabbed Dee Dee to death. In an interview with 20/20, Gypsy said: ‘I honestly thought he would end up not doing it. I heard her scream once, and there was more screaming but not like the kind in a horror film. Just like a startled scream, and she asked, “Who was it that was in the bedroom?” And she called out to my name about three or four times, and at that point, I wanted to go help her so bad, but I was so afraid to get up. It's like my body wouldn't move. Then everything just went quiet.’

The next day, Gypsy and Godejohn were arrested and charged with the murder of Dee Dee. On 5th July 2016, Gypsy pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in a plea agreement in which prosecutors agreed to drop a first-degree murder charge. She was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

In November 2018, Godejohn stood trial for first-degree murder and Gypsy testified as a prosecution witness, detailing how she had asked Godejohn to carry out the murder. The jury deliberated for two hours before finding him guilty of first-degree murder. He was sentenced to life in prison.

Gypsy served her sentence in Missouri’s Chillicothe Correctional Center and said that she felt much freer in prison than she ever did while living under the control of her mother. She commented: ‘It was not because I hated her. It was because I wanted to escape her.’

Gypsy Rose and her mother Dee Dee Blanchard
Image: The Prison Confessions of Gypsy Rose Blanchard

Gypsy Rose Blanchard: Your Questions Answered

The case of Dee Dee and Gypsy Rose Blanchard has become a media phenomenon, and questions still swirl over their bizarre relationship and the dark aftermath. Let’s answer some now.

Where is Gypsy Rose Blanchard now?

Following her release from prison on 28th December 2023, Gypsy Rose celebrated the new year at home with her husband, father and stepmother. She is active on social media and has almost six million followers on Instagram

Who is Gypsy Rose Blanchard’s husband?

Despite being incarcerated, Gypsy Rose got married to a man named Ryan Scott Anderson in July 2022. Despite some reports suggesting that they annulled the marriage, the couple are currently still together.

Why did Dee Dee Blanchard lie about her daughter?

It’s widely believed that Dee Dee had a disorder known as ‘Munchausen syndrome by proxy’, which leads a caregiver to fake or exaggerate medical symptoms in the person they’re looking after. Many people who have this disorder have medical training themselves and it’s notable that Dee Dee worked as a nurse’s aide.

What is Munchausen syndrome by proxy?

Why do some people subject their own children, or others in their care, to tremendous suffering in an attempt to convince doctors and nurses that they’re unwell? It’s down to a mental health disorder which is known to the general public as ‘Munchausen syndrome by proxy’, although in the UK it’s technically termed ‘fabricated or induced illness’.

Munchausen syndrome by proxy can involve exaggerating real symptoms, completely fabricating symptoms, manipulating test results to make the victim seem ill, and even harming the victim – for example, by poisoning them – so that medical treatments are given.

Some perpetrators do this because they have a craving for attention from clinicians, or because they want the victim to become more dependent on them. Some with the disorder may not even be aware of the truth of their behaviour.

The disorder may be linked to a history of self-harm, drug misuse, alcoholism, childhood abuse, and/or bereavement. As Dee Dee is no longer alive, the extent of her disorder can never be fully ascertained, but she certainly seemed to bear all the hallmarks of a classic perpetrator of this thankfully rare form of abuse.

Facts about Gypsy Rose Blanchard

  • Dee Dee Blanchard had a fraught relationship with her own mother. It’s even been speculated that when she was infirm and dependent on her daughter, Dee Dee murdered her by letting her starve.

  • Dee Dee gave birth to her daughter Gypsy Rose in 1991. By that point, she and Gypsy Rose’s father had already separated.

  • Dee Dee began to falsely claim that Gypsy Rose was unwell when she was still a baby, insisting that her daughter had sleep apnoea. This would escalate to claims that she had diseases as serious as leukaemia and muscular dystrophy, leading to Gypsy Rose being subjected to a litany of unnecessary medical tests and procedures.

  • Dee Dee received money from the state to help care for her supposedly ailing daughter. She kept up the charade by taking Gypsy Rose to numerous specialists and making frequent visits to hospital ER departments.

  • In 2007, Gypsy Rose was named ‘Child of the Year’ by the Oley Foundation, an advocacy group for patients on feeding tubes. The following year, the mother and daughter moved to a home with a wheelchair ramp and hot tub, built by a charitable organisation.

  • Mother and daughter received numerous charitable donations and benefits, such as free trips to Walt Disney World and free concert tickets. Throughout it all, Dee Dee kept up appearances by shaving Gypsy’s head to make her look convincingly like a cancer patient, and taking an oxygen tank with them when they left the house.

  • Dee Dee physically abused Gypsy Rose to keep her docile and dependent. She would allegedly strike her with her hand and a coat hanger and once smashed up her computer and mobile phone with a hammer before leashing her to her bed.

  • In around 2012, Gypsy Rose secretly got chatting to a man from a Christian dating website. Nicholas Godejohn was a loner who claimed to have multiple personalities, one of whom was a vampire named Victor. The extent of his mental health conditions and the severity of his autism would later be debated during his murder trial.

  • Gypsy Rose and Nicholas began planning Dee Dee’s murder soon after meeting up. The plan came to fruition in June 2015, when Gypsy Rose let Nicholas into her home so he could break into the bedroom and stab Dee Dee repeatedly as she slept.

  • The lovers went on the run after the murder but were soon tracked by authorities and taken into custody.

  • Gypsy Rose’s attorney revealed the extent of her abuse at the hands of Dee Dee and made a plea deal for her to serve 10 years for second-degree murder. The prosecutor said he could have successfully pursued a first-degree murder charge, which would have put Gypsy Rose away for life, but chose not to because of Gypsy Rose’s tortured past.

  • Nicholas Godejohn was found guilty of first-degree murder and sentenced to life behind bars.