The disturbing story of Dee Dee and Gypsy Rose Blanchard has been of viral interest since Michelle Dean reported on the duo for Buzzfeed in 2016. Theirs was the tale of a saintly mother who took care of her ailing daughter's every need—until Dee Dee turned up stabbed to death and people found out she had made up daughter Gypsy's numerous illnesses, including epilepsy, paralysis, and leukemia. It was Gypsy who planned the murder.
The Blanchards' story got the HBO documentary treatment in Erin Lee Carr's Mommy Dead and Dearest, which aired Monday night, and more stomach-turning details emerged.
1. Dee Dee's family dragged out a lot of other skeletons from the dead woman's closet.
Thanks to Carr's efforts, we finally get to meet Dee Dee's father Claude Pitre and other members of the Pitre family, who were absent from Dean's Buzzfeed story. And oh my god, do they have tales to tell.
Dee Dee's history of manipulation apparently started way before the decades of Munchausen by proxy. The Pitres say that Dee Dee used to steal from her family, possibly as a form of payback when things "didn't go her way." Dee Dee's stepmother Laura claims that Dee Dee tried to kill her by putting the weed killer Roundup in her food; Laura was bedridden for nine months afterward. It's suggested that Dee Dee may have actually succeeded in killing her own mother Emma, herself a petty thief, by starving her.
But the truly jaw-dropping moment is when the three members of the Pitre family interviewed for the documentary—Dee Dee's father Claude, her stepmother Laura, and her nephew Bobby—all seem glad that Dee Dee is dead. No one in Dee Dee's family wanted to claim her ashes—"Flush that down the toilet"—or to pay for her funeral mass. Claude and Laura say that Dee Dee got what she deserved when she was murdered.
2. Dee Dee exerted "total control" over Gypsy.
It wasn't just psychological, but physical too. Neighbors and Gypsy recall that Dee Dee always held her daughter's hand in front of company. Gypsy says that whenever she said something out of line, her mother would squeeze her. It was "a way of asserting mastery over another person and saying, 'You're not free,'" says Dr. Marc Feldman, a clinical psychologist and Munchausen expert interviewed for the documentary. Feldman compares Gypsy's situation to that of a hostage.
The physical control also reportedly involved physical abuse. Gypsy says her mother would hit her with a coat hanger or strike her with her palm. When Gypsy tried to run away with an older man, Dee Dee destroyed Gypsy's computer and cell phone with a hammer, according to Gypsy. Dee Dee then told her, "If you ever try to do that again, I will smash your fingers with a hammer." Following that episode, Gypsy says that for two weeks, she was restrained via a dog leash linked to handcuffs that were attached to a bed. Dee Dee tried to declare Gypsy incompetent during this time, according to Gypsy, which led her to think she would never be able to go to the police because they wouldn't believe anything she told them.
3. Gypsy was exploring her sexuality with Nicholas Godejohn, her then-boyfriend.
Gypsy met Godejohn on a Christian dating website. She sent him a wink and they began their relationship a few days later. Godejohn introduced Gypsy to BDSM, according to Gypsy, and screenshots of Gypsy's secret Facebook account show illustrations of a nearly naked Belle from Beauty and the Beast clutching the Beast, as well as status updates that included the statement, "I live and breath to serve My Master." Gypsy claims she was uncomfortable with BDSM, but that Godejohn coaxed her into submission.
Godejohn does seem to have had an unusually prurient side. In 2013, he was arrested for watching porn and "fondling himself" for nine hours at a McDonald's.
4. Godejohn allegedly struggled with his mental condition.
In his police statement, Godejohn says he used to take medication for the voices he heard, and that he may have multiple personality disorder. Gypsy reveals that she made up different personalities of her own to "match his." She dressed up in different wigs and outfits to go with the personalities, which included Candy, the "slut side," and Ruby, the "evil side." Godejohn's mother, Stephanie Goldammer, tells a detective that Godejohn was diagnosed with autism and Asperger's.
5. Gypsy and Godejohn had sex at the movie theater when they met for the first time in person.
Wanting to bring Godejohn into her real life, Gypsy mapped out a meeting that would happen during a movie outing with her mother. Godejohn would meet them at the theater, and Godejohn and Gypsy would act as if they were two strangers hitting it off.
They met at the theater. Godejohn says Gypsy dragged him to the bathroom immediately, where they had sex. Otherwise, the encounter didn't go the way Gypsy wanted it to. Dee Dee didn't take to Godejohn, who she found "creepy" and "weird." That's when the momentum on the murder plot, what Gypsy and Godejohn called "Plan B," started to accelerate.
6. Dee Dee's last words were "Don't hurt me."
Gypsy seems to show remorse over her mother's death when she recounts the last night they spent together. They had an argument, but they reconciled, and they painted their nails dark pink together. Before going to bed, Dee Dee said, "I'm starting to feel more relaxed. Don't hurt me."
7. Gypsy didn't want Godejohn to rape her mother's corpse, so she made an offer.
A detective questions Godejohn about what he did to Dee Dee's body after he killed her: "Did your penis touch anywhere on Dee Dee's body? Did your mouth touch anywhere on Dee Dee's body?"
He admits that "at one point" he had thought about having sex with the corpse. Gypsy says she didn't want that to happen. "I made a deal with him. I'd let him rape me and then he wouldn't do that to my mom." Right after the murder, Gypsy and Godejohn had sex. He claims it was consensual, while she says that it stopped being consensual at a certain point. Then they cleaned up the murder scene and left.
8. Gypsy and Godejohn mailed themselves the murder weapon.
Just...through the regular USPS mail. They sent the knife as well as thousands of dollars they stole from Dee Dee.
9. Gypsy might be a sociopath too.
In the opening scene of the documentary, a detective tells Gypsy her mom is dead. She feigns disbelief and confusion and starts to cry. But the detective says he knows she's lying. "You think that it's me?" Gypsy asks. "Why would you think that it's me?"
Godejohn's mother and stepfather recall how normal Godejohn and Gypsy seemed after the murder. "They acted like two normal people," says Godejohn's stepfather. "That's what's really freaky. How can you do that?"
Gypsy's signs of sociopathy may have something to do with the way she was raised her whole life. She "doesn't have a language beyond manipulation and retaliation," says the Buzzfeed reporter Michelle Dean, right before we see Gypsy back in the sheriff's office, telling the detective over and over that she didn't have anything to do with her mother's death.
10. Gypsy contemplated suicide.
In her first "full-contact visit" with her father Ron Blanchard and his wife Kristy, Gypsy says she thought about killing herself when she thought she might be facing life in prison (she accepted a plea deal and is serving 10 years). But she says she's in a better place now. She assures her father and stepmother that she doesn't blame them for anything and seems to accept responsibility for what happened. "You got this far," her father tells her. "The rest is going to be easier."
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