Gypsy Rose, a seriously ill girl, and Dee Dee, an overprotective mom who wants the best for her little girl. What fact of blood hides this apparent story of maternal love?
Gypsy Rose and Dee Dee Blanchard
Year 1991. The little Gypsy Rose Blanchard is born and her mother is in seventh heaven. Soon, however, the happy event turns into a tragedy when she discovers that Gypsy Rose is seriously ill.
As a newborn, she suffers from nocturnal apnea and for this reason she will have to be constantly monitored. When the little girl turns 8, another diagnosis leaves everyone shocked: muscular dystrophy and leukemia, two wild beasts for a little girl. Her mother, however, Clauddine, known as “Dee Dee”, does not lose heart. She tries to give the best to her little one even though her husband abandoned her before the birth.
Gypsy Rose can’t walk, she needs a wheelchair and a feeding tube. She can’t eat by herself. Fortunately, Dee Dee is surrounded by people who always help her and organize fundraisers to pay for treatment for her daughter.
She undergoes various surgeries, she sleeps with an artificial respirator and her salivary glands must be removed. She takes a lot of drugs and it is perhaps because of all these substances that her teeth begin to rot, so they are all extracted.
Skinny, emaciated, without teeth and without hair, with big glasses, Gypsy Rose has a crazy desire to live. She is cheerful and sociable and the community always helps her with her treatments or by giving her trips to Disneyland to make her last years of life the best possible.
The shadow of suspicion
In 2005 Dee Dee claims to be a victim of Hurricane Katrina, so mother and daughter are helped once again by the community, which strives to get them to move to the state of Missouri. The non-profit organization “Habitat for Humanity” donates to mother and daughter a beautiful house fully equipped for the needs of Gypsy Rose.
In Missouri the doctors, having doubts about the real health conditions of Gypsy Rose, ask Dee Dee for previous medical reports, which, unfortunately, have been “conveniently” lost because of the hurricane.
Gypsy Rose starts growing up and becoming a teenager. The girl doesn’t feel as bad as she should feel and it becomes more and more difficult for her mother to manage her. Dee Dee lies about her daughter’s age and even falsifies her birth certificate to make her look younger. In addition, she insists that her daughter’s mental age does not pass the age of 4.
Dee Dee is very protective of Gypsy Rose, maybe too much. As the years go by, the girl begins to want to interact with her peers, but her mother forbids her to. They have a common Facebook account, in which the mother constantly posts all the treatments, trips and surgeries of her daughter, but that wasn’t doing it for Gypsy Rose so she creates a personal account, with the fictitious name of “Emma Rose”.
The girl loves science fiction conventions, which she has been attending since 2011 in cosplay of her favorite characters. Before one of these conventions she meets a guy online thanks to his secret account and they meet at the event. Gypsy Rose’s idea is to run away with him, but Dee Dee discovers them in a hotel room and lies to the boy, telling him that his daughter is underage, when in reality she is 19 years old. Once home, according to the story that Gypsy Rose will later tell, Dee Dee locks her daughter in the room and ties her to the bed, beating her up and denying her food.
But Gypsy Rose doesn’t lose heart and as soon as she can she goes back online, where she registers for a Christian dating site. There she meets Nicholas Godejohn, a boy with a history of indecent exposure and mental problems. The two stay in touch for a couple of years, chatting when Dee Dee sleeps, and fall in love. Gypsy Rose confesses to the boy that her mother is holding her captive and they plan to run away together.
The murder of Dee Dee
On the night of June 14th, 2015, Godejohn goes to the house of her girlfriend while Dee Dee is sleeping. Gypsy Rose lets him in and gives him gloves and a knife. Godejohn stabs Dee Dee in her sleep several times until he kills her, while Gypsy Rose waits in the bathroom, covering her ears. After the murder, the two have sex, get $4,000 that Gypsy Rose was hiding and go to Godejohn’s house, where they will then be arrested by the police.
Dee Dee’s body is discovered after a post appears on the Facebook account that mother and daughter shared: “The whore is dead”. Gypsy Rose herself writes it, because she wants her mother’s body to be discovered.
Munchausen by proxy syndrome
How did this situation come about? Was Gypsy Rose really sick?
No, the child has never suffered from any of the illnesses that her mother was befitting her. On the contrary, Dee Dee suffers from the Mucnhausen by proxy Syndrome, which leads a guardian, usually the mother, to pretend that her son or the person that she is caring for is ill. All this to earn the sympathy and solidarity of people.
Gypsy Rose, therefore, had never suffered from nocturnal apnea, was able to walk and feed herself, had no problem with the salivary glands, nor infections. In short, she was fit as a fiddle. Her intellectual abilities were also normal, even though her mother had never sent her to school because of her “illnesses”.
But how is it possible that she was subjected to all these treatments, if she was not really sick?
Very simple. Dee Dee would take her daughter to a doctor and say that she was suffering from a certain disorder and ask for specific examinations. If the doctor didn’t authorize the examinations, Dee Dee would change doctor until she found one who satisfied her demands. This is a very common practice for people with Munchausen by proxy syndrome.
Sometimes, she would administer drugs to his daughter to simulate symptoms, so that the diseases would be more credible. When Dee Dee’s relatives had begun to suspect something, seeing that the child seemed healthy, the woman had moved to continue her farce away from prying eyes.
Unfortunately for her, this illness led her to abuse her daughter, who, in the end, could no longer cope with her abuse and took charge of her life, deciding to live even at the cost of killing her mother.
Arrest and convictions
Despite being an atrocious crime, the jurors had mercy on Gypsy Rose for all the abuses her mother made her endure. She was then sentenced to 10 years in prison, while Godejohn was sentenced to life imprisonment as the material perpetrator of the murder.
Dee Dee’s family is not sorry that the woman died, having they been the first to have doubts about the health of Gypsy Rose. According to them, Dee Dee deserved the end that she met.
Since April 2019 Gypsy Rose has been engaged to Ken, who wrote her letters in prison and then fell in love with her.