REAL LIFE

Victim or cold-blooded killer?

When a horrifying Facebook status appeared on a doting mum’s account, no-one could’ve predicted the secret that was about to be uncovered

– Claudine ‘Dee Dee’ Blanchard, 48, was found stabbed to death in Springfield, Missouri on June 14, 2015

– Terrified friends feared for her severely disabled daughter, Gypsy, who was missing.

– But then a shocking secret emerged – Dee Dee had Munchausen by proxy syndrome and had been keeping her daughter sick for sympathy and donations

– Desperate to escape, Gypsy had murdered her mum and is currently serving a 10-year jail sentence

– Now a new documentary explores the unrelenting abuse that led to that night and features exclusive access to Gypsy behind bars

– Here’s the full story

It all started with a mysterious message: That b***h is dead!

The shocking words were posted on 48-year-old Clauddinnea ‘Dee Dee’ Blancharde’s Facebook page. Dee Dee’s friends were very quick to react to the strange post.

Did your FB get hacked? I have never heard you talk like that, one friend wrote.

Should someone notify the local police? This sounds scary, wrote another.

Not long after, another horrifying message appeared. In explicit language, the post said they had slashed Dee Dee and raped her disabled daughter, Gypsy Rose, then 19.

Her scream was so loud, it read.

Terrified friends called police while others rushed to their pink bungalow in Springfield, Missouri, US. Tragically, single mum Dee Dee was found dead in her bedroom. She’d been brutally stabbed and police suspected she had been there for several days. But there were grave fears for Gypsy, whose wheelchair was still in the house. She would be helpless without it. Where was she?

Dee Dee and Gypsy had moved to the close-knit town in 2008 after Dee Dee said they’d lost everything they owned in Hurricane Katrina. Their home was specially built for them by a charity, Habitat for Humanity.

According to locals, it would’ve been impossible to find more worthy recipients of the gift. Dee Dee was a charming woman who was devoted to her daughter.

Gypsy and her mum

Gypsy, a tiny, frail girl, was confined to her wheelchair. Among her many ailments, Dee Dee said Gypsy suffered from chromosomal defects, muscular dystrophy, severe asthma, eye problems and epilepsy. She’d also battled leukemia as a child. Big glasses dwarfed her childlike face and her teeth were crumbling. She also had a feeding tube and often used an oxygen tank.

Dee Dee was happy to share her brave girl’s story and the pair appeared in TV segments and newspapers. Everyone in the community adored Gypsy.

Her complicated illnesses meant Gypsy was constantly in hospital for treatment, including several painful operations on her eyes. But she spent the rest of her time with her doting mother.

‘We are a pair of shoes,’ Gypsy said. ‘Never good without the other.’

They even shared Dee Dee’s Facebook account. Dee Dee told people this was because Gypsy had the mental age of a seven-year-old. This was clear from her interests, too. Gypsy spoke in a childlike voice and often dressed like a princess in wigs and costumes.

Gypsy often dressed like a princess

With so many people touched by their plight, the pair were treated to charity-funded trips to Disney World and to concerts. People did anything they could to help the loving, deserving family.

After Dee Dee’s murder, her friends continued their generosity by starting a fundraiser to pay for her funeral – and possibly Gypsy’s. But there was no sign of the fragile teenager and police feared the worst.

Then, Gypsy’s friend Aleah Woodmansee came forward with some surprising information. She told police Gypsy had admitted to having a secret boyfriend, Nicholas Godejohn, 26, who she’d met on a Christian dating website.

Gypsy told Aleah she wanted to marry him, but knew her mother would never approve. Desperate to find Gypsy, police traced the sinister Facebook posts.

They discovered they’d been posted from Godejohn’s address in Wisconsin. So on June 15 last year – just hours after the shocking Facebook post was published – a team of officers was dispatched to the house. After a short stand-off, Godejohn surrendered. Gypsy was found inside, completely unharmed.

For a brief time, Dee Dee’s loved ones were filled with relief that Gypsy was safe. But the next morning, police revealed something so shocking, it rocked the town to its core.

‘Things are not always as they appear,’ the Greene County Sheriff, Jim Arnott, told a press conference. ‘We have unearthed the appearance of a long financial fraud scheme along with this tragic event.’

Then came the bombshell…

‘[Gypsy] can walk without assistance or a wheelchair and she can do that very well.’

When questioned by police, there were no signs of the disabilities Dee Dee often talked of. Gypsy spoke confidently and intelligently. Furthermore, medical examinations showed she was perfectly healthy. Gypsy was not disabled at all.

As locals tried to digest the news, there were more shocks to follow. Gypsy and Nicholas were both arrested and charged with Dee Dee’s murder. In fact, Gypsy had written the gruesome Facebook posts.

Gypsy pleaded guilty to second-degree murder (Credit: Waukesha County Sheriff’s Department)

No-one was more stunned than Gypsy’s estranged dad, Rod. He had always believed his daughter was very ill. Rod provided police with Gypsy’s birth certificate. It revealed she was 23, a full four years older than everyone – including Gypsy – was led to believe.

Some experts believed Dee Dee was suffering from Munchausen syndrome by proxy, a rare form of child abuse that involves the exaggeration or fabrication of illnesses or symptoms by a caretaker. For most of Gypsy’s life, her mother convinced everyone Gypsy was sick and took her to multiple doctors.

By moving from town to town, Dee Dee managed to fool doctors into believing her fabrications, eventually claiming Gypsy’s medical records and birth certificate had been destroyed in Hurricane Katrina. So Gypsy was treated for nonexistent ailments.

Meanwhile, Dee Dee collected money through fundraising and took advantage of a free house and complimentary holidays. Detectives discovered her real name was Clauddine Blanchard.

In July 2016, Gypsy accepted a plea deal, admitting to second-degree murder. Her lawyer, Mike Stanfield, argued that Gypsy suffered decades of abuse at the hands of her mother. Dee Dee forced her to take medication, which caused her teeth to rot. She also shaved her daughter’s head repeatedly, telling Gypsy it would fall out anyway.

‘Essentially, Gypsy’s mother was holding her a prisoner,’ Stanfield said. ‘Her mother would not allow her to spend any time alone with any other human being. Her mother, when they went to the doctor, did all the talking.’

Gypsy was sentenced to 10 years in jail – the minimum for second-degree murder. In sentencing, the prosecutor, Dan Patterson, acknowledged the history of abuse against Gypsy had played a part in them not pursuing the maximum penalty for the crime.

Nicholas Godejohn, 27, who was charged with first-degree murder, is still awaiting trial.

Speaking to reporter Michelle Dean from prison, Gypsy said she wants people to know this wasn’t a situation where a girl killed her mum to be with her boyfriend. This was a situation of a girl trying to escape abuse.

So one question still remains. Was Gypsy really a victim or was she a cold-blooded killer?

Mommy Dead and Dearest airs on HBO.

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