The Heartbreaking True Story of Gypsy Rose Blanchard

In one of the most severe cases of Munchausen Syndrome by proxy, Dee Dee Blanchard forced her daughter Gypsy Rose to pretend to be severely disabled. For a long time, Gypsy herself believed that she was sick. For years, she was subjected to unnecessary surgeries and forced to take medications that she didn’t need. This case is the basis for the Lifetime movie "Love You to Death" and the more recent Hulu show "The Act."

This is the true story of Gypsy Rose Blanchard.

Life With Dee Dee

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When Gypsy Rose was only an infant, her mother took her to the hospital, seemingly convinced that her daughter had sleep apnea despite her showing no symptoms. Years later, Gypsy fell off a motorcycle, resulting in a knee abrasion. Her mother insisted that she use a wheelchair to avoid worsening her injury. Shortly after this, Dee Dee’s parents started to question Gypsy’s condition, causing Dee Dee to move out of her parents’ home and into an apartment. She collected disability checks for her daughter’s purported illness.

Dee Dee took Gypsy to the hospital with claims that her daughter was suffering from a range of physical ailments, including muscular dystrophy, vision problems and seizures. Despite the tests not showing signs of these conditions, Gypsy was prescribed medications for pain and seizures. Hurricane Katrina later forced Gypsy and her mother to move to Missouri, where they received plenty of support and charitable donations. This included free trips to Walt Disney World, free flights to see doctors and a house built for them by Habitat for Humanity.

Gypsy continued to take medications that she didn’t need and underwent multiple unnecessary medical procedures, including the extraction of her salivary glands. While Dee Dee pretended to be a doting mother to the public, she would hit Gypsy when the two were alone, often with her hands or with coat hangers. 

Bernando Flasterstein, a pediatric neurologist who offered to see Gypsy at his clinic, discovered that Gypsy did not have any of the disabilities that her mother claimed she did. He reached out to doctors who had Gypsy’s previous medical records and began to suspect that Gypsy was not actually sick. When he told Dee Dee that the prior diagnoses were incorrect, she stormed out of his office. Dr. Flasterstein later wrote a letter to Gypsy’s primary care physician, stating that he believed Dee Dee suffered from Munchausen Syndrome by proxy. At the time, he did not think he had enough information to call Child Protective Services. He later said that he wished he could have done more. In 2009, another doctor alerted authorities after suspecting that Gypsy was not actually sick. The case was soon closed as caseworkers were unable to find anything suspicious.

In 2010, at the age of 19, Gypsy knew she wasn’t sick and she began trying to escape from her mother. She went to a neighbor’s house one night and begged to be taken to the hospital, but Dee Dee intervened and took Gypsy back home. Dee Dee had many people convinced that Gypsy was mentally challenged. People were under the impression that Gypsy didn’t quite understand what she was saying, while Dee Dee was seen as the loving mother of a severely disabled child.

After failing to receive help from the neighbor, Gypsy Rose began using the internet to meet men in chat rooms with the hopes that one of them could help her. When Dee Dee found about this, she smashed Gypsy’s computer with a hammer and threatened to smash her fingers if she tried to do it again. She also chained Gypsy to her bed for two weeks as punishment and told her that she had filed paperwork with the police proving that Gypsy was mentally incompetent. Because of this, Gypsy believed that if she went to the police for help, they wouldn’t believe her. Gypsy continued to use the internet in secret after her mother would go to bed. In 2012, she met Nicholas Godejohn on a Christian singles group. They developed a relationship and later began to develop a plan to kill Dee Dee.

The Crime and the Aftermath

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In June of 2015, Gypsy Rose let Nicholas Godejohn into her home, where he bludgeoned Dee Dee to death in her bed while Gypsy hid in the bathroom so she wouldn’t have to witness it. Days later, Godejohn used his phone to post two status updates to Dee Dee’s Facebook page. He did this at Gypsy’s urging, so that people would find the body. 

Gypsy Rose eventually confessed to hiring Nicholas Godejohn to kill her mother. At the time of her arrest, she believed that she was 19-years-old, but she was actually 23. While awaiting her trial in jail, she gained 14 pounds because she had been so malnourished. After Dee Dee’s treatment of Gypsy was disclosed to the public, people began to sympathize with Gypsy. Dee Dee’s family reportedly flushed her ashes down the toilet and felt little remorse for her death.

In July of 2015, Gypsy Rose Blanchard was sentenced to 10 years in prison for second-degree murder. Nicholas Godejohn was sentenced to life in prison in February 2019. Gypsy feels remorse for the murder but says that she is better off without her mother. In a 2018 interview, she stated, “I feel like I’m freer in prison, than living with my mom.”

Regardless of your own personal feelings about the case, I think we can all agree on one thing: No person should ever suffer through the abuse that Gypsy Rose went through. I hope that she has been able to find peace.

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