Gypsy Rose Blanchard was in the bathroom, hands over her ears, but she could still hear the screams. It was June 2015, and the boy she'd met on a Christian dating website two years earlier was stabbing her mother, Dee Dee Blanchard, to death in the next room over.
She might not have wanted to hear the murder, but Gypsy admits to being the mastermind behind it. For years, Dee Dee duped family, friends, and even the media, into thinking her daughter was afflicted with a long list of ailments, including leukemia and muscular dystrophy. She paraded Gypsy around in a wheelchair, despite the fact that her daughter could walk perfectly fine, and forced her to undergo unnecessary surgeries to correct fake illnesses.
The gruesome killing — and the twisted reason behind it — is the inspiration for The Act, a new series on Hulu with Joey King and Patricia Arquette playing Gypsy and Dee Dee, which premieres March 19. Just month ago, her tragic story resurfaced a Discovery ID special, which included exclusive interviews with Dee Dee's siblings, the killer boyfriend, and even a prison interview with Gypsy herself, who says she became so "desperate" to live a normal life, that killing her mother seemed like her only recourse.
Before (or while) tuning into The Act, catch up on the tragic story of Gypsy and Dee Dee.
Gypsy was born in Golden Meadow, Louisiana on July 27, 1991. Her father, Rod Blanchard, divorced her mother, Dee Dee, before she was born.
Despite being a perfectly healthy and "normal" baby girl, Dee Dee insisted Gypsy needed "a heart monitor that she’d have to wear while she slept, because she stopped breathing in her sleep or she’d have seizures in the middle of the night," Rod says in the special.
Little did he know this would be the first of many fake illnesses to plague his daughter. His ex-wife most likely had , a condition where a caregiver fabricates health problems of their charges, with the intent to gain sympathy and attention.
According to , if a person fakes their own illnesses, it’s simply Munchausen syndrome, but when the symptoms are feigned or induced in others, it’s called Munchausen by proxy. A Munchausen syndrome by proxy diagnosis is attached to the perpetrator, not to the victim, and because Dee Dee is dead, it’s impossible to officially diagnose her.
When she turned 5, Dee Dee declared Gypsy could no longer walk, because she had muscular dystrophy and epilepsy. She put her daughter in a wheelchair.
"I [thought I] was paralyzed from the waist down," Gypsy says in the Discovery ID special. "She also said I had cancer and she would shave off my hair and tell me, 'It's going to fall out anyway so let’s keep it nice and neat.' She said I couldn’t eat and needed a feeding tube, so I had formula through a feeding tube and also received my medication through a feeding tube."
Dee Dee even convinced surgeons to operate on her daughter.
"I’ve had my salivary glands removed because my mother said that I drooled. I had the feeing tube placement in my tummy, I had multiple eye surgeries on right and left eye," Gypsy adds. "Ear surgeries, muscle biopsy to find out why my legs didn’t work, a surgery to make me not throw up anymore. I believed I had all these illnesses, except I knew that I could walk and I knew that I could eat."
After Hurricane Katrina hit Louisiana in 2005, Dee Dee and Gypsy showed up at a Covington, Louisiana special-needs shelter, claiming Gypsy's medical records had been destroyed in the flood. Their heartbreaking story caught the attention of local media and charities and, in 2008, they relocated to Springfield, Missouri where Habitat for Humanity volunteers built the displaced family a customized wheelchair ramp.
The outpouring of support for the single mother and her handicapped daughter didn't stop there — they received free trips to Walt Disney World, a wheelchair accessible car, and backstage passes to concerts via Make-A-Wish.
At the appearances, usually heavily documented by the media, Gypsy dressed in colorful costumes and wigs. Her squeaky voice and childlike demeanor endeared her to everyone she met. “Through all the illnesses, she was a trooper," Rod says. "All smiles.”
As the kindness poured in, the diagnoses piled on. Rod says Dee Dee, a former nurse's aide, did research on "whatever disease she was going to fathom that Gypsy had." She constantly came up with new ideas about what was wrong with Gypsy, including a chromosomal defect, severe asthma, and eye problems.
According to Buzzfeed, most doctors appeared to have taken Dee Dee's assertions about her daughter's illnesses at face value. However, in 2007, a pediatric neurologist named Bernardo Flasterstein consulted on Gypsy's case and wrote in her file that there was an “unusual distribution” to Gypsy’s weakness for a muscular dystrophy and “there is a strong possibility of Munchausen by proxy, with maybe some underlying unknown etiology to explain for her symptoms.”
Nothing ever came from his notes and Flasterstein told Buzzfeed he wishes he “could have been more aggressive” in stopping Dee Dee.
It wasn't until Gypsy was a teenager, and discovered her own Medicaid card, that she began to question her mother. "[The card] said I was born in 1991 not 1995 like she’d claimed and told me," Gypsy says. "So I was actually 19 at the time, not 15.”
Gypsy claims in the ID special that her mother wouldn’t let her speak during doctors visits and told her if she ever tried to escape, police wouldn’t believe her story. She even alleges Dee Dee physically abused her, chaining her to the bed and hitting her with coat hangers.
Gypsy went from looking at her mother "like a loving parent to seeing her as somebody that I was quite afraid of," she says. "I felt like there was no hope. I kept thinking, 'Dear God get me out of here somehow.'"
She consulted her boyfriend Nick Godejohn, a 24-year-old man she secretly met on a Christian singles site, about escaping.
"Me and Nick were talking one night and he said that he would do anything to protect me and I asked him, 'Anything?' and he said, 'Yeah,'" Gypsy says in the special. "'From anybody?' [I asked], he said 'Yeah.' 'Even my mom?' [I asked], he said 'Yes.' And that’s when this kind of plan started to develop of a murder plot."
In June 2015, Godejohn snuck into her home and murdered her mother, while Gypsy hid in the bathroom.
"You think that hearing a murder is like what you hear on a horror film or something," Gypsy says. "But it's really not. You can stand watching a horror film, but hearing someone actually being murdered is terrifying, it creates this nauseous feeling in your stomach ... All you can think about is how afraid you are."
Police discovered Dee Dee's body four days later. Godejohn had stabbed her with a knife multiple times in the back and slashed her across the back of her neck.
The next day, police ascended on his house in Wisconsin, where the couple was hiding out, and arrested them. "We thought we would never get caught," Gypsy says. "I felt like this is a fairy tale and I was going to the be princess that got rescued … [but] what started as a fairy tale ended as a horror movie."
Godejohn is currently in custody awaiting trial for first-degree murder. If found guilty, he faces a possible sentence of life in prison.
Gypsy, who no longer dates Godejohn, agreed to a plea deal for her role in the murder and is serving a 10-year prison sentence. She admits to missing her mother — but describes the feeling as "complicated."
"There are some times that I’m angry at her," Gypsy says in the special. "There are times I think, 'She's so manipulative and how could you do that to your child?!' And then I think about other times, she was just so desperate for somebody to love her. Regardless of all of that, I still love her and I still miss her. Because she was my mother.”