The world was shocked by the story of Dee Dee and Gypsy Rose Blancharde when it broke in 2016. Most came to learn of the mother with Munchausen’s by proxy and the daughter who killed her either through the BuzzFeed News investigative essay or the HBO documentary Mommy Dead and Dearest. Both pieces outlined how a community came to learn that Dee Dee was brutally murdered and her daughter missing, only to learn Gypsy had orchestrated it.
With the premiere of the Hulu limited series The Act, starring Patricia Arquette as Dee Dee and Joey King as Gypsy, you may be wondering what's happened since the murder and trial. Here's everything you need to know.
How old is Gypsy Rose now?
Gypsy was born July 27, 1991, making her 27 years old with the premiere of The Act. She was 23 at the time of the murder. Until recently, Gypsy and the public had plenty of reason to be unsure of her age because her mother had aged her down several years. In fact, Gypsy’s dad recalls Dee Dee telling him on their daughter’s 18th birthday not to mention her age because "she thinks she’s 14."
Since she was malnourished and overmedicated for much of her life, Gypsy’s small frame helped Dee Dee maintain this deception. She also was able to use their displacement after Hurricane Katrina as a cover when Gypsy discovered a birth certificate with her true birthdate on it and tried to emancipate herself. Dee Dee also said the floods had destroyed Gypsy’s medical records, which would have revealed her muscle biopsy was negative for muscular dystrophy and that she suffered none of the other medical conditions Dee Dee purported.
What prison is Gypsy Rose in?
Since July 2016, Gypsy has resided at Chillicothe Correctional Center in Missouri under inmate number 1302048. Though most people’s health will suffer with incarceration, her father and stepmother have reported she is actually "thriving" and has even put on weight. At 4'11" and 100 pounds according to the corrections website, she’s very petite, and her family believes her growth may have been permanently stunted by the medications her mother administered. Thankfully, that seems to have been the only lingering ill effect to being medicated for conditions she didn’t actually have.
In addition to improved nutrition, Gypsy has also been able to pursue her GED through Chillicothe’s continuing education programs and in many ways feels she has more freedom now than she did when her mother was alive. "Despite everything, she still tells me that she’s happier now than with her mom," stepmother Kristy Blanchard told the Springfield News-Leader in February. "And that if she had a choice to either be in jail or back with her mom, she would rather be in jail." That’s pretty understandable if you’re at all familiar with her history.
So, what exactly happened to Dee Dee Blancharde?
Until her death, friends and neighbors believed Dee Dee Blancharde to be the ideal mother, raising a severely disabled young girl living with muscular dystrophy, a seizure disorder, an unspecified chromosomal disorder, and an intellectual disability. Gypsy had barely any formal education and taught herself to read with the Harry Potter series. She was forced to use a wheelchair and often a feeding tube, though she had no legitimate need for either.
The reason for all this medical fraud was that Dee Dee had Munchausen by proxy. While Munchausen syndrome refers to people who compulsively make themselves sick to gain attention and sympathy, a person with Munchausen by proxy makes a family member sick in order to gain attention, sympathy, and admiration as a devoted caretaker.
Dee Dee definitely was successful in that regard. She also profited quite well from sympathy over Gypsy’s perceived plight. They got a home through Habitat for Humanity, countless handouts from the community, free trips to Disney World, backstage access at Miranda Lambert concerts, and an endowment from the Make-a-Wish Foundation.
She also kept Gypsy’s father, Rod, away from his daughter and sold a false bill of goods about his character and involvement in their lives (he sent monthly child support payments consistently and made substantial efforts to be in Gypsy’s life). As Gypsy grew older and more aware of what was going on, she would regularly defy her mother and try to escape her situation. However, she says Dee Dee would resort to physical abuse to keep her compliant.
Nevertheless, Gypsy began sneaking out and using the internet after her mother had gone to bed. Online, she met Nicholas Godejohn and pursued a relationship with him. Eventually, they conspired together to murder Dee Dee. John stabbed a sleeping Dee Dee several times while Gypsy hid in the bathroom.
They fled and, days later, posted to Gypsy and Dee Dee’s shared Facebook, "That Bitch is dead!" followed by a longer post saying the unnamed poster had murdered Dee Dee and raped Gypsy. According to Gypsy, those messages were intended to provoke somebody to go to the house to investigate, since her mother’s body had been lying unrecovered for several days.
Though police initially feared the worst for Gypsy, a neighbor who knew about her relationship with John told them, and the IP address belonging to his phone was linked to the post on Facebook.
What happened during the trial?
During the trial, the truth about Dee Dee’s abuse and deception came to light and sympathies swayed toward Gypsy. The prosecution offered a deal and Gypsy pleaded guilty to second degree murder, accepting a 10-year sentence for the crime. She will eligible for parole in 2024 at age 32.
Nick Godejohn’s trial was delayed multiple times but finally occurred in November 2018. Godejohn had pleaded not guilty on the grounds that he is a "low-functioning person with autism" and had been manipulated by the true mastermind of the crime, Gypsy. However, a jury found Godejohn guilty of first degree murder. He was sentenced to serve life in prison without the possibility of parole.
His lawyers argued for a retrial on the grounds that the jury heard prejudicial evidence about Godejohn considering raping Dee Dee the night he killed her, as well as the fact the jury heard a psychologist appointed by the state regarding Godejohn's capacity, but not the defense's psychologist. The judge denied the motion and mentioned that is a matter for a higher court to consider in appeals.