Dee Dee and Gypsy Rose Blanchard: True story behind new Hulu show
Four years ago Clauddine Blanchard was found stabbed to death in her bed, only minutes after her neighbours saw her Facebook status read: “That bitch is dead!”
Her 19-year-old disabled daughter, Gypsy Rose, who was confined to a wheelchair most of her life and relied on her mother to survive, was not at the scene.
What was about to be uncovered would send shockwaves around the US and the world, with the riveting story to be dramatised in Hulu’s new crime miniseries The Act, available to stream on Foxtel tomorrow.
Clauddine, affectionately known as “Dee Dee”(played by Patricia Arquette), and Gypsy were the quintessential loving mum and daughter duo, from Missouri in the US.
Gypsy, played by Joey King in the series, garnered a lot of attention in the media and from charities, with her mother claiming she suffered from leukaemia, asthma, muscular dystrophy and several other conditions that meant she had the “mental capacity of a seven-year-old”.
She had to be fed through a tube, had regular seizures and was constantly at hospital having different surgeries.
People did what they could to make their lives happier. The pair had a special home built for them, went on an all-expenses paid trip to Disney World, were given $3500 by country singer Miranda Lambert and also got to meet Elijah Wood from Lord of the Rings.
They were loved by all. “They were the shining star in this town. They were people who could outlast adversity and get through everything,” crime writer M.J. Pack told 20/20.
Who would murder Dee Dee? It didn’t make sense.
The case got a lot more sinister when police discovered Gypsy wasn’t at home, but her wheelchair and medication was left behind. It was immediately thought she had been abducted.
It turns out Gypsy was at home when her mother was murdered. In fact, she was behind it. After the crime, she got up from her wheelchair and fled.
She was never sick to begin with.
Sounds evil, but it was her mother who was behind the fake illness.
Investigators found Gypsy in Wisconsin several days later with her boyfriend, Nicholas Godejohn, who she had met online in the years prior.
It was revealed Dee Dee was the one suffering from a condition — Munchausen syndrome by proxy — a mental health problem in which a guardian makes up or causes an illness in a person under their care. It’s considered child abuse.
Gypsy cottoned on to not being as sick as her mother tried to convince her she was and found freedom online, where she met Nicholas on a Christian dating site in 2012.
In a desperate bid to escape her mother’s tight grip, Gypsy and Nicholas made a plan to murder Dee Dee so they could elope and have children.
Gypsy let Nicholas in their home one evening in June 2015 and gave him duct tape, gloves and a knife to commit the murder.
She hid in the bathroom while Nicholas stabbed Dee Dee in the back as she slept.
Gypsy and Nicholas then had sex, stole $4000 in cash from Dee Dee and fled to a motel nearby. They then took off to Wisconsin (an eight-hour drive away) where they would plan their next move.
Feeling concerned several days had passed without her mother’s body being found, Gypsy urged Nicholas to post from Dee Dee’s Facebook account about her death to alert people.
Their initial “That bitch is dead!” post was followed 17 minutes later by a longer comment suggesting someone had violently killed Dee Dee and raped Gypsy.
After discovering her body, police requested Facebook to trace the IP address where the posts were made, where they found Nicholas and Gypsy. The pair surrendered.
Initially, the community in Gypsy’s home town were relieved of her safe return.
But, in announcing the news, Greene County Sheriff Jim Arnott warned “things are not always what they appear”.
The media in Springfield soon reported the truth of the Blanchards’ lives. Gypsy had never been sick, was always able to walk, and Dee Dee used physical abuse to control her.
Some questioned whether Gypsy deserved a 10-year sentence, given the abuse she suffered, but Gypsy’s stepmother told media last year she was happier than ever behind bars.
“Despite everything, she still tells me that she’s happier now than with her mum. And that if she had a choice to either be in jail, or back with her mum, she would rather be in jail,” Kristy Blanchard said.
Gypsy will be eligible for parole in 2023 when she will be 32.
She gave an interview to America’s ABC Network in January last year from the Missouri Chillicothe Correctional Center, where she revealed the extent of the abuse she suffered after questioning her mother about her “illnesses”.
“It would go into an argument that would last a couple of days. Or it could be something where she wouldn’t feed me for two days or so,” Gypsy said.
“It started to be physical in 2011. She would hit me with a coat hanger sometimes.”
She also said Dee Dee chained her to the bed and put bells on the door when she tried to escape.
“There are certain illnesses that I knew I didn’t have,” she said.
“I knew that I didn’t need the feeding tube. I knew that I could eat. I knew that I could walk. “But I did believe my mother when she said I had leukaemia.”
The Act premieres on Fox Showcase at 9.30pm tomorrow, with the remaining seven episodes airing weekly. It will also be available to stream on Foxtel Now
Originally published as Girl murders mum in twisted revenge plot