In 2005, local news stations covered a human interest story about a mom and her wheelchair-bound daughter who had survived Hurricane Katrina together.
The mother, Dee Dee Blanchard, and her daughter, Gypsy, moved to Springfield, Missouri, after being displaced by the storm.
One outlet covering the pair described Gypsy as battling with “muscular dystrophy and leukemia.” A relief doctor relayed the uplifting story of a young survivor:
“I guess I would say ‘angelic,’ and that's pretty wild because she's just a bright spot when people were going through hard times,” said Jordan. “She was pretty much the special one in the shelter."
Gypsy even told a local paper that “love was stronger than any hurricane.” She and her mother had received support from both the American Cancer Society Hope Lodge and Habitat for Humanity.
This narrative of a doting mother and her disabled, but hope-driven, daughter would continue for years. Neighbors, friends, doctors, and local media were all unwitting actors in a growing web of deception.
But then, on June 14, 2015, Dee Dee was brutally murdered in her own home. Her wheelchair-bound daughter was nowhere to be found.
Police had been tipped off by this troubling Facebook update:
Officers eventually found Gypsy Blanchard in Wisconsin with Nicholas Godejohn, her boyfriend and accomplice in her mother's murder.
Fox4KC reports that police discovered immediately that Gypsy was actually able to walk unassisted, and that the Blanchards had duped several organizations that help disabled people — including Angel Flight — a non-profit that connects patients to hospitals by private plane. Angel Flight claims the women had documentation of Gypsy's ailments from a legitimate physician. Dee Dee and Gypsy also reportedly stayed in Ronald McDonald houses on the premise of a lie.
BuzzFeed recently covered the Blanchard's years-long deception. The in-depth piece paints a picture of a mentally unstable and abusive mother who forced her daughter to appear disabled and kept her locked away from others to keep the lies from unraveling.
Dee Dee reportedly shaved Gypsy's hair, fed her through tubes, and gave her own daughter medication that made her teeth fall out.
When the police finally arrived at Godejohn’s house, Gypsy told them that her life was a fraud, and that she'd lied because her mother made her.
Godejohn and Gypsy had met online and communicated through several fake Facebook accounts. This correspondence also involved a plot to kill Dee Dee. The then-26-year-old Godejohn told police that he drove down to Springfield, Missouri, and murdered the 48-year-old Dee Dee. Gypsy reportedly stayed in the bathroom while Godejohn made good on his promise to murder his girlfriend's mother.
During the trial, Godejohn testified:
Gypsy gave him the knife. Afterwards, he said, they mailed it to his home in Big Bend “so he would not get caught with it.” He said the pair cleaned up blood in the house after the stabbing, took several thousand dollars from a safe in Dee Dee's bedroom.
Dee Dee Blanchard, post-mortem, has been diagnosed with Munchausen syndrome by proxy, described as:
A somatic symptom and related disorder. It is referred to as factitious disorder that is imposed by one individual on another.
MSBP is characterized by feigning or intentionally producing physical or emotional symptoms in another person in order to place that person in the sick role.
Gypsy plead guilty to second-degree murder and was sentenced to 10 years in prison. She will likely get out in 8.5 years. Godejohn's trial is set for November.
When asked about her deceased mother, Gypsy said from prison, “I think she would have been the perfect mom for someone that actually was sick. But I’m not sick. There’s that big, big difference.”
KY3 News has more on the story here: