The Disturbing Case of Gypsy Rose Blanchard, Who Murdered Her Munchausen-by-Proxy Mom
Gypsy Rose's Upbringing: Wheelchairs, Hospital Visits and a Feeding Tube
From the day she was born, Gypsy Rose Blanchard had a unique upbringing. The seemingly wheelchair-bound Missouri girl grew up in and out of hospitals and took dozens of medications. She underwent numerous surgeries and appeared to rely on a feeding tube. In their community, Gypsy Rose's mother, Dee Dee Blanchard, was known as a doting mom to her ailing daughter, appearing on local television and receiving large donations from national charities.
Dee Dee Is Murdered
In June 2015, Dee Dee was found dead in her bed. Gypsy Rose and her boyfriend, Nick Godejohn, were both charged with first-degree murder. After her arrest, it was revealed that Dee Dee had fabricated all of Gypsy Rose's medical issues. Experts determined she was the victim of Munchausen by Proxy Syndrome, a rare form of abuse in which a guardian exaggerates or induces illness in a child for attention and sympathy.
A Life of Pain and Confusion
Dee Dee's years of abuse impacted Gypsy Rose physically, mentally and emotionally. She was 23 when Dee Dee was killed, but had been told by her mother that she was just a teenager with the mental capacity of a 7-year-old. According to Gypsy Rose, Dee Dee wouldn’t let her speak during doctors visits and told her that if she ever tried to escape, police wouldn’t believe her story.
A Father and Daughter Reconnect
Gypsy Rose’s father, Rod Blanchard, previously told PEOPLE that he and Dee Dee met, married and separated before their daughter was born. Dee Dee moved away from him with Gypsy Rose and said he could only rarely see her. After Gypsy Rose's arrest, Rod Blanchard, who remarried, reconnected with his daughter. "We still are learning [of new things] and amazed at some of the things that went on," Rod said.
Gypsy Rose Gets 10 Years After Guilty Plea
In July 2016, Gypsy Rose pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and is currently serving a 10-year prison sentence. Godejohn is still awaiting trial later in 2018, but has pleaded not guilty, arguing he killed Dee Dee to free Gypsy Rose. If found guilty, Godejohn could be sentenced to life in prison. His attorney could not immediately be reached for comment by PEOPLE.
Gypsy Rose Speaks Out About Sentence
In 2016, Gypsy Rose's case was the subject of an HBO documentary Mommy, Dead and Dearest. In an interview with Dr. Phil McGraw, Gypsy Rose said she believes her sentence was too harsh. In the two-part episode, Dr. Phil McGraw asks Gypsy Rose, "Should you be in this prison?" She replies, "To be honest, I have complicated feelings about that, and adds, "I believe firmly that, no matter what, murder is not okay. But at the same time I don’t believe I deserve as many years as I got."
New Abuse Details Revealed: She 'Chained Me to the Bed'
In a recent interview with 20/20, Gypsy Rose shared harrowing new details of her mother's abuse. "She physically chained me to the bed, and put bells on the doors, and told anybody that I probably would have trusted that I was going through a phase, and to tell her if I was doing anything behind her back," Gypsy Rose said. When Dee Dee became upset with her, the pair would get “into an argument that would last a couple of days,” Gypsy Rose said. “Or it could be something where she wouldn’t feed me for two days or so.”