In the close-knit community of Springfield, Missouri, Dee Dee Blancharde’s neighbors admire her devotion to her sickly daughter. But when a sinister Facebook post sparks a murder investigation, a terrible secret is revealed.
Dee Dee was born in Golden Meadow, a bayou town in southern Louisiana. When she was 24 years old, she fell pregnant by local boy Rod Blanchard, who was still in high school at the time. Despite the age difference between them, Rod and Dee Dee decided to get married.
On his 18th birthday, however, Rod realized that he wasn’t in love with his wife. The couple separated, and Gypsy Rose was born to a single mother. But although Rod tried to stay involved in his daughter’s life, things were soon complicated by an array of apparent medical problems.
It all started when Gypsy was three months old, and Dee Dee began worrying that her daughter wasn’t breathing properly at night. According to Rod, she took the baby to the hospital, but doctors couldn’t find anything wrong. From then onwards, however, Dee Dee seemed to believe that Gypsy was a sickly child.
Over the years, Dee Dee relayed an ever-growing array of diagnoses to Rod. Apparently, Gypsy had been born with a chromosomal defect, a condition that caused all manner of health conditions. In time, Rod remarried but Gypsy – by then confined to a wheelchair – would continue to visit his new family.
When Gypsy was around ten years old, Dee Dee moved with her daughter to Slidell, a city some 30 miles north of New Orleans. Updating Gypsy’s new doctors on the girl’s medical history, Dee Dee reeled off a long list of conditions. From muscular dystrophy to epilepsy and seizures, poor Gypsy’s struggles seemed to be without end.
Then, in 2005 the Blanchardes were hit by another blow. That August, Hurricane Katrina devastated Slidell, and almost 90 percent of the city’s buildings were left damaged or destroyed. In the aftermath, Dee Dee and Gypsy found their way to an emergency shelter for people with special needs.
Their apartment had been reduced to rubble, Dee Dee told staff at the shelter. Even worse, Gypsy’s medical records had been lost. Thankfully, a doctor took pity on the Blanchardes and arranged for them to relocate to Aurora in Missouri. Three years later, the charity Habitat for Humanity built them their own house in nearby Springfield, specially adapted to suit Gypsy’s needs.
In Missouri, Dee Dee and Gypsy soon became popular figures throughout the community. Neighbors viewed Dee Dee as generous and kind, endlessly devoted to caring for her ailing daughter. Gypsy, meanwhile, was seen as childlike and sweet, her tiny frame and high-pitched voice making her appear younger than her years.
Still confined to a wheelchair, Gypsy was often forced to travel with cumbersome drips and tanks. But despite all this, the Blanchardes apparently managed to live a happy and fulfilling life. With the help of charities, in fact, they were even able to enjoy treats such as holidays to Disney World.
Then, on June 14, 2015, everything changed. That day, a sinister message reading “That Bitch is dead!” was sent from Dee Dee’s Facebook account. Soon after, another message appeared. This time, it claimed to be from someone who had committed a violent attack against the Blancharde family.
Concerned neighbors and friends flocked to the Blanchardes’ home, only to find an apparently empty house. Police eventually arrived and discovered the ugly truth – Dee Dee had been stabbed to death, and Gypsy was nowhere to be seen.
At first, those who knew the Blanchardes were heartbroken to think of the vulnerable Gypsy alone in the world without her mother to protect her. Then, the day after Dee Dee’s body was discovered, a shocking twist occurred. Police traced the source of the Facebook messages to a man named Nicholas Godejohn – but he wasn’t alone.
When police arrived at Godejohn’s Wisconsin home, in fact, they found that Gypsy was with him – alive and well, despite having disappeared without her medication. What’s more, she appeared to be walking unaided. Investigators would soon realize the incredible truth – that Gypsy had been perfectly healthy all along.
In police custody, Gypsy began to share her story as best as she could remember it. Ever since she was a child, her mother had fed her multiple doses of medication, telling her that she had cancer and other diseases. Meanwhile, Dee Dee continued to insist to the doctors that her daughter was ill. Although tests did not seem to confirm her claims, Dee Dee was rarely questioned.
Unsure of the truth herself, Gypsy was looking for a way out. Then, some time in 2012 she met Godejohn on a Christian dating site. For two years, the pair had built up a relationship online. And in May 2014, the conversation began to turn dark. Together, they concocted a plan to murder Gypsy’s mother.
Although she was initially charged with first-degree murder, Gypsy’s medical records soon revealed the depths of the abuse and deceit to which she had been subjected. In light of this, a guilty plea for second-degree murder was accepted, and Gypsy was sentenced to ten years behind bars.
Godejohn, meanwhile, is still awaiting trial. According to prosecutors, he had been the instigator of the plot to murder Dee Dee and admits being the one to carry out the deed. His lawyers, however, have argued that his low IQ and autism amount to diminished capacity, and that he should not be held fully responsible for the crime.
Looking back on the bizarre case, experts have claimed that Dee Dee was suffering from Munchausen Syndrome by proxy – a condition that causes an individual to imagine sickness in another person. In fact, one doctor who treated Gypsy back in 2007 wrote just such a diagnosis in his notes. However, Dee Dee had dismissed his concerns and simply begun visiting another physician.
Today, Gypsy is still serving her sentence in a Missouri prison. With parole, she could be out in six years. Although she has expressed her frustration at doctors who didn’t pick up on what was happening, she seems resigned to her fate. And with more freedom in jail then she ever had with Dee Dee, she claims to be spending her time trying to become a better person.