It was a case that had a seemingly endless amount of twists and turns.
Dee Dee Blanchard, 48, was found stabbed to death in her Missouri home on June 14, 2015, after neighbors saw a disturbing post on her Facebook.
“That b**** is dead,” the post read.
Investigators determined Dee Dee’s body had laid in a pool of her own blood for several days before being discovered. And equally terrifying to those who knew and loved Dee Dee was the fact that her seemingly severely disabled daughter, Gypsy Rose, was missing.
For as long as anyone knew Dee Dee, they knew how much Gypsy — and Gypsy's health — meant to her.
Gypsy Rose suffered from leukemia, asthma and muscular dystrophy, was wheel-chair bound and had the mental capacity of a 7-year-old child due to brain damage she sustained from being born premature, her mother would tell people. Her supposedly much-needed medications were still in the home with her slain mother. Neighbors feared the worst for Gypsy.
“I … SLASHED THAT FAT PIG AND RAPED HER SWEET INNOCENT DAUGHTER … HER SCREAM WAS SO … LOUD LOL,” read another message that popped up on Dee Dee’s Facebook page.
But Gypsy Rose, 23, wasn’t sick. And she wasn’t so innocent, either.
Before her mother’s murder case would conclude, Gypsy would plead guilty to second-degree murder and be sentenced to 10 years in prison. Her secret boyfriend whom she met online, Nicholas Godejohn, would be convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life behind bars.
“Things are not always as they appear,” Greene County Sheriff Jim Arnott told reporters at the time.
Their story has since been the subject of documentaries, a TV movie and will now come to life in Hulu’s new seasonal anthology series, “The Act.”
Ahead of its premiere, below is a breakdown of the life of secrecy and lies led by Dee Dee Blanchard, the abuse her daughter Gypsy endured at her mother’s hands and the murderous conclusion of their toxic relationship.
A Concerning Past
Dee Dee Blanchard was born Clauddine Pitre in Chackbay, Louisiana, in 1967.
“She was a large, affable-looking person, which she reinforced by dressing in bright, cheerful colors,” BuzzFeed wrote. “People who knew her remember her as generous with her time and, when she could be, generous with money.”
But relatives remembered her as devious at times, engaging in petty theft as retaliation for when things did not go her way. It also appeared Dee Dee’s penchant for making those around her ill started before the birth of her daughter.
Dee Dee’s stepmother, Laura Pitre, said in the HBO documentary “Mommy Dead and Dearest” that she believed Dee Dee tried to kill her by putting Roundup, a weed killer, in her food. The incident left Laura bedridden for nine months, she said.
And in 1997, Dee Dee’s mother, Emma, died. Dee Dee herself was suspected of killing her by slow starvation, according to relatives interviewed in “Mommy Dead and Dearest.”
She worked as a nurse’s aide for a time and took away from that experience a keen memory for medical terminology that would come in handy years later when discussing her daughter’s condition with physicians.
When she was 24, Dee Dee gave birth to a baby girl. She and the girl’s father, 17-year-old Rod Blanchard, had been together for between four and six months when she became pregnant, he told BuzzFeed. They married, and, when the baby was born on July 27, 1991, they called her Gypsy Rose.
But it wasn’t long before Rod Blanchard realized he had made a mistake.
“I woke up on my birthday, on my 18th birthday, and realized I wasn't where I was supposed to be,” he said. “I wasn't in love with her, really. I knew I got married for the wrong reasons.”
He and Dee Dee separated and though she tried on more than one occasion to get back together with him, the pair ultimately broke up.
Gypsy was, by many accounts, a fit baby. She was healthy at birth, Rod said, while Dee Dee’s nephew, Bobby Pitre, said he didn’t believe she had any known health issues, other than having possibly been born slightly premature.
But at only a few months old, Gypsy became a mainstay at the local hospital. Dee Dee said she believed Gypsy stopped breathing in the night because she suffered from sleep apnea, but Rod recalled to BuzzFeed that doctors found nothing wrong with their daughter.
Dee Dee was undeterred. Convinced that something — perhaps many things — were wrong with Gypsy, Dee Dee continued to seek medical treatment. She told Rod that Gypsy had a chromosomal defect that caused their daughter’s many health issues, but she always seemed to have things under control, he recalled.
She took Gypsy out of school before the girl reached the third grade, opting instead for homeschooling. Gypsy managed to learn to read on her own by making her way through the "Harry Potter" series.
When she was about 7, Gypsy suffered a cut to her knee while riding on her grandfather’s motorcycle.
Though her family said she appeared able to walk, Dee Dee insisted she would need surgery and from then, her daughter was confined to a wheelchair.
Gypsy went on to attend the Special Olympics and in 2001 — when Dee Dee claimed her 10-year-old daughter was only 8 — Gypsy was named the honorary queen of the Krewe of Mid-City Parade, a parade for children held during Mardi Gras in New Orleans.
"I have been very lucky," Dee Dee, whose name was listed as “Clauddinnea ‘Deno’ Pitre-Blanchard,” told the Daily Comet at the time. "She is such a good child. She has never once complained."
By then, Dee Dee had claimed Gypsy suffered from poor physical and mental development, was both hearing and vision impaired, was unable to walk, needed to be fed through a feeding tube and had brain damage from seizures. She was often treated at the Children’s Hospital, while her mother stayed at the Ronald McDonald House.
Doctors acting on Dee Dee’s descriptions of Gypsy’s supposed seizures put the girl on anti-seizure medications. They also treated her based on Dee Dee’s assertions that Gypsy had muscular dystrophy and frequent ear infections.
Eventually, Dee Dee moved with her daughter away from her family after they confronted her about her treatment of Gypsy. The mother and daughter moved to Slidell, where they lived in public housing and paid their bills using public assistance they were granted due to Gypsy’s apparent medical conditions, as well as child support provided by Rod.
In 2005, Slidell was hit by Hurricane Katrina, which knocked out power for weeks. Dee Dee and Gypsy went to a special-needs shelter, where they claimed their old apartment had been ruined and that Gypsy’s medical records and her birth certificate were destroyed.
There, the pair met a doctor who suggested they move to Missouri and before long, they were airlifted to what would become their new home state. The relocation proved fortuitous for Dee Dee, who had apparently just gotten started in benefiting from Gypsy’s ailments.
A Fresh Start
Dee Dee and Gypsy rented a house in Aurora, where the young girl with a tragic story became a media and charity darling.
Gypsy was honored as 2007 Child of the Year by the Oley Foundation, which fights for the rights of feeding-tube recipients, and in 2008, Habitat for Humanity built her and her mother a home of their own.
The house was located in Springfield and came equipped with a wheelchair ramp and a hot tub.
They benefited from free flights, free stays at a lodge for cancer patients, free trips to Disney World and opportunities provided by the Make-A-Wish Foundation, including tickets and backstage passes to Miranda Lambert concerts, according to reports.
Dee Dee falsely told her new community that Gypsy’s father was an abusive drug addict and alcoholic who didn’t support or have contact with his daughter. But Rod continued to remain in touch with Gypsy and Dee Dee, sending them $1,200 in child support every month and speaking often with Dee Dee about Gypsy’s condition.
Rod also occasionally talked with his daughter on the phone, including on her 18th birthday, when Dee Dee urged him to not mention the milestone, saying Gypsy believed she was 14. He also continued to financially support Gypsy after her 18th birthday because she still required extensive care.
“There was never a question whether or not I was going to stop paying,” he told BuzzFeed.
Dee Dee made sure to keep Gypsy firmly ensnared in the web of lies she had spun.
Neighbors recalled Dee Dee always held her daughter’s hand in front of company, which Gypsy later said was her mother’s way of making sure she didn’t say anything that would call into question her mother’s story.
Whenever she said something out of line, Dee Dee squeezed her hand, Gypsy said in “Mommy Dead and Dearest.”
The control escalated in private, Gypsy said, claiming her mother hit her with a coat hanger or her open hand.
Dee Dee’s continued push for medical interventions for Gypsy did not waver as her daughter grew older. Gypsy would later claim her mother used a topical anesthetic to numb her gums before doctor visits. To address that so-called “issue,” Dee Dee had Gypsy’s saliva glands treated with Botox and then completely extracted. She also had tubes implanted into Gypsy’s ears to control the many ear infections from which she claimed Gypsy suffered.
But not all doctors were swayed by Dee Dee’s assertions.
Pediatric neurologist Bernardo Flasterstein in 2007 became suspicious of Gypsy’s muscular dystrophy diagnosis and ordered MRIs and blood tests that found no abnormalities.
“I remember having her stand up and she could hold her own weight!” Flasterstein told BuzzFeed.
Unable to find a reason that explained Gypsy’s inability to walk, Flasterstein told Dee Dee as much.
He also contacted two doctors in Louisiana who had their own questions regarding Gypsy’s conditions, both of whom said Dee Dee stopped bringing Gypsy to them when they shared their concerns.
“Analyzing all the facts, and after talking to her previous pediatrician, there is a strong possibility of Munchausen by proxy, with maybe some underlying unknown etiology to explain for her symptoms,” Flasterstein wrote in Gypsy’s file.
Dee Dee never brought Gypsy to him again, but Flasterstein did not report her to social services, saying he didn't at the time think he had enough information to call Child Protective Services.
In 2009, police conducted a wellness check at the Blanchard house after receiving a call from an unknown tipster who claimed Dee Dee used different names and birth dates for herself and for her daughter. The caller claimed Gypsy was in better health than her mother let on, but officers accepted Dee Dee’s false explanation that she purposefully used misinformation to make it more difficult for Gypsy’s abusive father to find them.
It was around this time that Gypsy apparently began pushing back against her mother’s narrative, but her attempts at having a say in her own life were met with severe consequences.
In 2011, Gypsy attempted to escape her mother. She began communicating with a 35-year-old man she met at a science fiction convention and the pair met in person at his hotel room. Though she was really 19, everyone believed Gypsy to be 15, and the community set out to track her down. Dee Dee eventually found them at the hotel and showed the man papers that indicated Gypsy was a minor.
When they returned home, Dee Dee destroyed Gypsy’s computer and cell phone with a hammer. Gypsy later said Dee Dee told her she would smash her fingers with the hammer next if she ever tried that again.
Gypsy said her mother used a dog leash and handcuffs to restrain her to her bed for two weeks, and that during this time, Dee Dee tried to declare Gypsy incompetent.
For months afterward, Gypsy appeared to those who knew her to be subdued.
“She wasn’t acting any differently than a normal child who was in trouble at that point,” Kim Blanchard, a neighbor of no relation, told BuzzFeed.
But Gypsy later said she believed at that point that there was nothing she could do to convince anyone to believe her.
Then, she met Nicholas Godejohn.
A Deadly Coupling
Gypsy and Nicholas, of Cleveland, met online in a Christian singles group in 2012.
The pair communicated for more than two years and Gypsy confided in a neighbor about her budding romance. Gypsy and Nicholas talked about marriage and the names they’d use for their future children, and he apparently didn’t care she was in a wheelchair.
They also communicated sexually, with Nicholas introducing Gypsy to BDSM, according to Gypsy. She later claimed she was uncomfortable with the eroticism but said Nicholas convinced her to go along with it.
For all its parts, Gypsy said she was in love, but that she knew her mother wouldn’t approve, and so she kept her relationship a secret while she plotted to have her mother and Nicholas meet. She and her mother went to the movies at the same time as Nicholas, but the outing didn’t go according to plan. In an interview with Dr. Phil McGraw, Gypsy said she and Nicholas met in the bathroom, where they had sex before returning to the theater.
But Dee Dee didn’t take to Nicholas.
Instead, she regarded Nicholas, who in 2013 was arrested for watching pornography on a tablet at a McDonald’s, as “creepy.”
“She got jealous, because I was spending a little too much attention on him, and she had ordered me to stay away from him,” Gypsy later told ABC News. “And needless to say, that was a very long argument that lasted a couple weeks. Yelling, throwing things, calling me names: b****, slut, whore.”
So Gypsy and Nicholas began plotting to kill Dee Dee, exchanging text messages that police and prosecutors would later uncover in their investigation.
“Honey, you forget I am ruthless, and my hatred of her will force her to die,” Nicholas texted Gypsy. “It’s my evil side doing it. He won’t mess up, because he enjoys killing.”
“I'm 100 percent in, Hon. I'm ready truly … Because I finally allowed myself to accept that you are my everything. I will go with you and live our dream,” Gypsy texted Nicholas at one point.
Nicholas returned to Springfield in June 2015.
He checked into a local motel while Dee Dee took Gypsy to a routine hospital appointment, and he waited until Gypsy let him know that they had returned and her mother had gone to bed.
Gypsy let Nicholas in, handed him gloves and duct tape and then passed him a knife.
“I honestly thought he would end up not doing it,” Gypsy told ABC News.
But he did.
Gypsy said that while she hid in the bathroom, Nicholas went into her mother’s bedroom and stabbed her to death.
After Dee Dee was dead, Nicholas and Gypsy said they had sex on Gypsy's bed before taking a cab back to Nicholas' motel room. Gypsy later said in “Mommy Dead and Dearest” that the sex began as consensual but that it turned into rape, and that she only agreed to have sex with Nicholas in that instance so that he would not defile her mother’s body.
"I made a deal with him. I'd let him rape me and then he wouldn't do that to my mom,” she said.
Nicholas, who could be heard saying in an interview with police he “at one point” considered having sex with Dee Dee’s corpse, claimed the entire encounter with Gypsy was consensual.
Gypsy and Nicholas attempted to clean up the scene, took $4,000 in cash that Dee Dee kept in the house and mailed the murder weapon to Nicholas' Wisconsin home. They took a bus to Wisconsin and on June 14, Nicholas at Gypsy’s urging used his phone to post two updates to Dee Dee’s Facebook page. Gypsy later said she hoped someone would see the posts and alert authorities so her mother’s body would be found.
Gypsy’s plan worked. Police discovered Dee Dee’s body and began their investigation into what could have happened to Gypsy. They soon learned from Gypsy’s neighbor whom she confided in that Gypsy had a secret online boyfriend, which sent investigators down the path to finding her and Nicholas.
Police raided Nicholas' home and both he and Gypsy surrendered to police.
In 2015, Gypsy accepted a plea bargain that saw her sentenced to 10 years in prison.
“I wish I would have never done anything,” she later told McGraw. “If anything, she just deserved to be where I am.”
She testified against Nicholas, and in February 2019, he was sentenced to life in prison for killing Dee Dee. He was also sentenced to 25 years for an armed criminal action charge, to run concurrent with his life sentence.
According to her stepmother, Gypsy is “thriving” in prison. In 2018, she was working toward completing her GED and has physically rebounded from the unnecessary medical treatments she received for most of her life.
"Despite everything, she still tells me that she's happier now than with her mom," Kristy Blanchard told the Springfield News-Leader. "And that if she had a choice to either be in jail, or back with her mom, she would rather be in jail."