With the recent airing of Hulu’s “The Act,” a murder case from 2015 has resurfaced and has many people highly interested in the complex details surrounding the intentions behind the convicted killers. The television show, which is an anthology series based on real events, premiered on March 20th of this year.
“The Act” is a re-enactment of the life of Clauddine ‘Dee Dee’ Blanchard and her daughter Gypsy Rose Blanchard, focusing on the time surrounding Dee Dee’s murder on June 14, 2015. Gypsy Rose and her then-boyfriend, Nicholas Godejohn, were the suspects for the murder of her mother and are both currently serving separate sentences relating to their part in the actual murder of Dee Dee. Gypsy Rose pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and is currently serving a ten-year sentence, while Nicholas was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison.
According to the American Psychological Association, Munchausen syndrome by proxy is when a parent knowingly creates or exaggerates physical symptoms in a child. Gypsy Rose, according to Dee Dee, suffered from many diseases and ailments such as leukemia, asthma, muscular dystrophy, as well as many other conditions that depicted her as being disabled and chronically ill. However, Gypsy Rose had absolutely none of these illnesses. She was told she could not walk and was bound to a wheelchair for almost her entire life when in reality she could walk perfectly fine. Dee Dee also lied to Gypsy Rose about her age, once saying that she was 14 when she was actually 18 years old, a full-grown adult. Over the many years of lies and deception, Dee Dee received sympathy and attention from the public, benefitting from companies such as the Make-A-Wish Foundation and Habitat for Humanity, who actually built them a brand-new home after theirs was destroyed in Hurricane Katrina.
Gypsy Rose is now 27 years old and has gained the commiseration of now over 100,000 people who have heard her story and have signed a petition on Change.org in a bid to get her released from prison. Her father, Rod Blanchard, started the petition two years ago in hopes to gain more attention to her case and has called on Missouri Governor Mike Parson to reduce her prison sentence. “I’m petitioning for any relief to Gypsy’s ten-year sentence, a shorter sentence, or perhaps relocation to a mental facility where she can get the better help she needs. Gypsy has a loving family and community waiting, supporting her every step of the way to freedom,” her father writes on the petition’s home page. Rod also was led to believe his daughter was sick her entire life, after separating with Dee Dee during her pregnancy with Gypsy Rose. Although continually paying child support for her, Rod’s relationship with his daughter was kept very limited because of Dee Dee’s control issues.
Signatures on the petition spiked in numbers after it was revealed that Gypsy Rose has been engaged to a pen pal that she has been in communication with while she’s been serving her sentence. Her fiance has been not identified to the public, as this is something that she wants to keep private since she would have never been able to have a romantic relationship with someone with her mother around.
“Despite everything, she still tells me that she’s happier now than with her mom,” Gypsy Rose’s stepmother Kristy Blanchard says in a 2018 interview by 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.”
Many people believe Gypsy Rose has been through enough by enduring the psychological abuse for years from her mother. She was brainwashed, threatened and sometimes chained to the bed for punishment, which is why she was afraid to speak out, even to doctors, because she was under the control of Dee Dee. She was robbed of a normal life and the release of “The Act” may be just the thing she needed to get her voice heard.