Gypsy and Dee Dee represent one of the most notorious cases of a mental-health disorder commonly known as Munchausen syndrome by proxy, which causes a caregiver to make it look like their charge, often a child, is sick, disabled, or injured. (The DSM now calls this condition Factitious disorder imposed on another, or FDIA.) Though Dee Dee can’t be diagnosed posthumously, most experts — and Gypsy herself — agree that her behavior aligns with the symptoms. She subjected her daughter to more than two decades of abuse while maintaining the illusion that she was severely ill, until Gypsy conspired with a boyfriend she’d met online to kill her mother.
It’s hard not to be transfixed by Gypsy’s story, and Hollywood agrees. After speaking at length in a 2016 BuzzFeed report on her case, Gypsy appeared from prison in the popular 2017 HBO documentary Mommy Dead and Dearest. You also may recognize this plot from the 2019 scripted Hulu show The Act, which is based on her life. Following her release from prison, she’s also become something of an internet celebrity. How did we get here? Let’s dive in.
Gypsy Rose’s mother pretended her daughter was sick and disabled for over two decades.
For the first 23 years of her life, Gypsy lived with Dee Dee, moving between public housing and hospitals in Louisiana before ultimately landing in Missouri. Friends and neighbors knew them as a sick, disabled child and her caring parent. Behind the scenes, things were very different — since Gypsy was 3 months old, her mother had been concocting a mountain of ever-changing illnesses and conditions that kept Gypsy constrained to a wheelchair and taking a deluge of medications. Dee Dee made her use a feeding tube and an oxygen tank, and shaved her head to convince people she had cancer. She often lied about her daughter’s age, at one point forging a birth certificate to convince people Gypsy was still a teenager.
Plenty of doctors believed Dee Dee and treated Gypsy accordingly, but she also evaded suspicion by constantly moving, changing her own name, and claiming her daughter’s medical records had been destroyed or lost. She also told anyone who asked that Gypsy’s father, Rod Blanchard, was an abusive alcoholic who’d made fun of his daughter’s disabilities. In reality, Rod and his second wife, Kristy, saw Gypsy regularly for most of her life, and Dee Dee kept them apprised of her alleged health struggles.
Gypsy conspired to kill Dee Dee with a man she met online.
As Gypsy started to realize what Dee Dee was doing, she found ways to secretly communicate with the outside world behind her mother’s back. In 2011, when she was 20, she tried to run away with a 35-year-old man she’d met at a science-fiction convention. That attempt failed — Gypsy later said in the HBO documentary that her mother tracked her down, convinced the man she was a minor, and destroyed her electronics before threatening to smash her fingers with a hammer. Sometime around 2012, she reached out to Nicholas Godejohn on a Christian-dating website and they struck up a relationship that Gypsy later said involved a good deal of BDSM. (Godejohn, who has suggested in police interviews that he has multiple personality disorder, was once arrested for masturbating at a McDonald’s while carrying a concealed knife.)
While exploring her sexuality with Godejohn, Gypsy also began to open up to him about her home situation. Based on her account of events, which she later divulged in the HBO documentary, it was her idea to murder Dee Dee and run away together — a fantasy the couple referred to as “Plan B.” She also messaged a neighbor from a secret social-media account, telling her she’d met a boyfriend online and wanted to marry him.
Gypsy and Godejohn were arrested after Dee Dee’s death.
In June 2015, police searched the Blanchards’ home after a series of disturbing Facebook posts appeared on Gypsy’s account, including one that read “That bitch is dead!” They found Dee Dee’s body in a bedroom and determined that she’d been stabbed days earlier. The next day, acting on a tip from the neighbor Gypsy confided in about her boyfriend, police tracked Gypsy to a Wisconsin address registered to Godejohn, where Gypsy was alive, well, and — to everyone’s shock — capable of walking. Gypsy told investigators that everything her mother had said about her health was a lie, and she and Godejohn were arrested and charged with first-degree murder.
While it quickly became clear that Gypsy had suffered years of abuse at the hands of her mother, the investigation also revealed unsettling messages between her and Godejohn that showed them discussing and planning Dee Dee’s murder at length. Gypsy later testified that Godejohn was the one who actually stabbed Dee Dee while Gypsy hid in the bathroom. She also claimed in the HBO documentary that Godejohn raped her that night, an encounter that Godejohn described in police-interrogation footage as consensual.
Gypsy pleaded guilty to a lower charge of second-degree murder in July 2015 as part of a plea deal and was sentenced to ten years in prison. Godejohn confessed to killing Dee Dee in filmed police interviews, and he went on trial in November 2018. During the trial, Gypsy testified that she came up with the murder plan. Godejohn was found guilty of first-degree murder, and he’s currently serving a life sentence. It’s not clear when Godejohn and Blanchard officially broke up, but he claimed to still be in love with her in a 2019 Oxygen documentary. Looking back on their relationship in a 2018 interview with ABC News, Gypsy called Godejohn “controlling,” likening him to her mother.
Gypsy has been busy in prison.
While serving her sentence, Gypsy has been booked and busy. She appeared extensively in HBO’s documentary, which she filmed from jail. In multiple interviews, she’s said she feels freer in prison than she ever did with her mother, because she can “just live like a normal woman.”
In 2019, Gypsy briefly got engaged to an unnamed man who contacted her after watching Mommy Dead and Dearest. Four months later, they reportedly called it off. She seems to have found love again — in 2022 she reportedly married a man named Ryan Scott Anderson, whom Entertainment Tonight claims is from Lake Charles, Louisiana.
Gypsy was granted parole in September, having served the requisite 85 percent of her ten-year sentence. Just before her release, she told People that she regrets planning her mother’s death “every single day.” “She was a sick woman,” she said of Dee Dee, “and unfortunately I wasn’t educated enough to see that. She deserved to be where I am, sitting in prison doing time for criminal behavior.”
Now that Gypsy is out, we’ve already gotten several dispatches on her post-prison life. Naturally, she’s on TikTok, where she posted a video announcing that she’s “finally free.” She’s also promoting her upcoming e-book, Released, and a Lifetime documentary series called The Prison Confessions of Gypsy Rose Blanchard. Her husband, Anderson, a special-education teacher, told People that he made her gumbo on her first day out. Gypsy also shared that she celebrated the New Year at home in Louisiana with her husband, father, and stepmother.
Sounds like she’s looking forward to a liberating 2024.