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The name Dee Dee Blanchard has been in the news lately, but this recent spate of headlines is far from her first time in the public eye. Here’s what you need to know about why Blanchard is again a topic of public interest.
Why Dee Dee Blanchard is back in the news again
Blanchard is currently in the news because the new Hulu series The Act is based on her relationship with her daughter, Gypsy Rose Blanchard. Dee Dee inflicted a psychiatric condition known as Munchausen syndrome by proxy on Gypsy Rose. A perpetrator of this syndrome fakes illness (often chronic and exaggerated) in a dependent, to elicit attention on themselves. Often, the person in the perpetrator’s care is too young to understand that they aren’t actually sick.
What makes this Munchausen case special
Gypsy eventually realized she wasn’t actually sick and took matters into her own hands. In order to extract herself from the situation, she conspired with an online acquaintance, Nicholas Godejohn, to murder Dee Dee. In June 2015, Godejohn joined Gypsy, then 24 years old, in murdering Dee Dee. Gypsy pled guilty to the second-degree murder charges in July 2016.
According to national Munchausen syndrome by proxy expert Marc Feldman, a clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of Alabama, Gypsy’s case is the first in which the victim has murdered the perpetrator. Feldman told the Springfield News-Leader that despite Dee Dee never being formally diagnosed with the syndrome during her lifetime, his expertise led him to believe she suffered from the syndrome — and Gypsy suffered as a result.
The symptoms Dee Dee faked in Gypsy
In the years preceding Dee Dee’s murder, Gypsy was bound to a wheelchair, ate only through a feeding tube, was highly medicated, and never spoke during any of her many medical appointments. Any medical records that could have hinted at a clean bill of health for Gypsy were destroyed in Hurricane Katrina — as was Gypsy’s birth certificate — since she and Dee Dee lived in New Orleans when the storm struck. Dee Dee was thus able to convince doctors that Gypsy suffered from leukemia, epilepsy, muscular dystrophy, impaired hearing and vision, and respiratory issues.
How Gypsy murdered Dee Dee
Gypsy’s father and stepmother claim that Gypsy first met Godejohn online more than a year before the killing. Godejohn believed Gypsy was as ill as Dee Dee claimed she was for the first year of their relationship, which eventually turned romantic. Eventually, Gypsy told him that Dee Dee was faking all her symptoms.
Gypsy also told Godejohn that she could only free herself of her mother’s abuse by murdering her, but she was afraid to commit the act herself. Godejohn thus traveled to Gypsy’s home to murder Dee Dee on her behalf. Just this past February, Godejohn was sentenced to life in prison for the murder. Gypsy is serving 10 years.
The Act isn’t the first visual work about Dee Dee’s murder
Although Dee Dee Blanchard is in the news again thanks to The Act’s arrival on Hulu, the series isn’t the first based on her story. In the 2017 HBO documentary Mommy Dead and Dearest, filmmakers interviewed Gypsy and Godejohn about Gypsy’s life and Dee Dee’s murder. Earlier this year, just before Hulu premiered The Act, Lifetime ran a film called Love You to Death inspired by the Blanchards.