The Unfolding Of Gypsy Rose Blanchard’s Life: A Timeline Of Turmoil And Tragedy

ABOVE: Gypsy Rose Blanchard, left, with her mother, Dee Dee Blanchard in an undated photo. (Photo: Greene County Sheriff's Office)

Gypsy Rose’s story, a heart-wrenching narrative of a daughter’s plight under the shadow of her mother’s Munchausen by Proxy, has captivated the world since her arrest back in 2015…

Gypsy Rose Blanchard, who in 2016 pleaded guilty to murdering her mother, will be out of prison before 2024. The Missouri Department of Corrections has granted her parole three years before her scheduled release, which will see Gypsy Rose released on December 28, 2023, though her original 10-year sentence would have seen her in prison until 2026.

Gypsy Rose, who is now 32, was convicted of second-degree murder in connection with the gruesome 2015 killing of her mother, Clauddine (Dee Dee) Blanchard. Her then-boyfriend, Nicholas Godejohn, was charged with first-degree murder after he stabbed Dee Dee 17 times, leading to her death. In 2019, he was handed a life sentence without the possibility of parole.

The case made international headlines — and went on to become one of the most infamous criminal cases of the last decade — because of the case’s peculiar circumstances. Gypsy Rose’s life reads like a crime novel — a chilling concoction of deception, abuse, and murder. Gypsy Rose, who was an abuse victim, was for years made to believe by her mother that she had myriad serious diseases, including leukemia, muscular dystrophy and brain damage. She underwent numerous surgeries, used a wheelchair and an oxygen tank and believed she was fighting for her life. Dee Dee often told others that Gypsy Rose had the mental capacity of a seven-year-old. Only after Gypsy Rose’s arrest was it revealed that Dee Dee had actually fabricated the list of health conditions and today it is widely believed that Dee Dee suffered from Munchausen syndrome by proxy (now professionally referred to as factitious disorder imposed on another), a mental health disorder that sees a caregiver imagine or induce symptoms and illnesses on a dependent for attention.

Here is a timeline that traces all of the significant events in Gypsy Rose’s life:

1991: The birth of Gypsy Rose
Gypsy Rose Blanchard was born on July 27, 1991, in Golden Meadow, Louisiana. Her parents, Dee Dee and Rod Blanchard, had split shortly before her birth because Rod (who was 17 when he got married) realized that he had married too soon. Rod would later reveal that Gypsy Rose got her name because Dee Dee liked the name Gypsy, and Rod was a Guns N’ Roses fan.

1996: Dee Dee first claims that Gypsy Rose is unable to walk
Dee Dee claimed that Gypsy Rose suffered from a host of medical conditions, which began a life of constant medical interventions. In 1996, when Gypsy Rose was just five years old, Dee Dee claimed her daughter was unable to walk.

Early 2000s: A childhood of illness
Gypsy Rose was subjected to numerous surgeries and prescribed various medications in the early 2000s because of Dee Dee manipulating a variety of different medical professionals. Doctors carried out surgeries on Gypsy Rose for supposed weaknesses in her eye muscles, among other operations, including feeding tube installation, salivary gland removal, and teeth extractions. At this point she was confined to a wheelchair despite her ability to walk, a fact unknown to those outside her immediate family.

2005: Hurricane Katrina and relocation
Following Hurricane Katrina, Dee Dee took Gypsy Rose to a special-needs shelter in Covington, Louisiana. Dee Dee presented photos of their destroyed apartment and claimed that flooding had ruined all of Gypsy Rose’s past medical records. While in the shelter a doctor suggested that the pair relocate to Springfield, Missouri, where they caught the media’s attention when Habitat for Humanity built them a wheelchair ramp in front of their new Springfield home. The pair recieved public sympathy and also accepted free trips to Disney World, a specialized car for wheelchairs, and gifts from the Make-A-Wish foundation. Gypsy Rose told a local Ozarks news outlet, “Love is stronger than any hurricane.”

2007: The first note mentioning the possibility of Munchausen By Proxy
Most physicians were enamored with the mother-daughter duo, however, in 2007 Pediatric neurologist Bernardo Flasterstein noticed that, though Dee Dee insisted Gypsy Rose had muscular dystrophy, the girl’s weaknesses weren’t characteristic of the disease. He noted, “There is a strong possibility of Munchausen by proxy, with maybe some underlying unknown etiology to explain for her symptoms.” Flasterstein did not follow up by reporting Dee Dee to social services. He said he had been told by other doctors to treat the pair with “golden gloves” and doubted the authorities would believe him anyway.

ABOVE: Gypsy Rose Blanchard, left, with her mother, Dee Dee Blanchard in an undated photo. (Photo: HBOdocs)

2009: Police receive an anonymous call expressing doubts regarding Gypsy Rose’s health issues
In 2009, an anonymous caller called the Springfield Police Department and claimed that Gypsy Rose may not be as sick as her mother claimed. When a police officer from the Springfield Police Department visited the Blanchard home to investigate the claim, Dee Dee said there were inconsistencies in Gypsy Rose’s records because the pair were trying to evade Dee Dee’s ex-husband Rod, whom she claimed to fear.

2010: Gypsy Rose finds her Medicaid Card and realizes she’s older than she thought
When Gypsy Rose discovered her Medicaid card in 2010, she began to suspect her mother was lying to her about her own age. Dee Dee had told Gypsy Rose that she was born in 1995. However, according to her Medicaid card, Gypsy Rose discovered that her birth year was actually 1991. Gypsy Rose was 19 at the time, though she believed she was 15.

February 2011: First attempt to escape
Since 2001, Gypsy Rose had attended science fiction and fantasy conventions, sometimes in costume, since she could blend into their diverse and inclusive communities in her wheelchair. In February 2011, Gypsy Rose tried to escape her mother’s strict control after she met an unnamed man at a sci-fi convention and then started communicating online with him. At the time, the man was 35, and Gypsy Rose was 19, though everyone believed she was 15. The pair went back to the man’s hotel room, only to be discovered by Dee Dee a few hours later. Dee Dee brought false paperwork up to the room proving that Gypsy Rose was a minor and threatening to call the police, forcing her to leave. Dee Dee was so incensed by the incident that she shattered the family computer. The repercussions for Gypsy Rose were severe, and included tighter restrictions on her already limited freedoms.

October 2012: Gypsy Rose and Nick begin an online relationship
Gypsy Rose met Nicholas Godejohn, a man from Wisconsin, on the Christian dating site on October 9, 2012. Obsessed with Disney fairy tale princesses—especially Rapunzel, Gypsy Rose believed she had found her Prince Charming in Nick.

“im a little emberessed this is my first time on an online dateing site but i thought it might be nice to me new people and maybe find love too,” one of her earlier messages to Nick read.

Nick was also looking to connect with someone, and was “sort of similar” to Gypsy Rose in that he functioned at the same level as a 15 or 16 year old and “did not really having a normal social interaction history,” according to former FBI agent Brad Garrett. He had a criminal record for indecent exposure and a history of mental illness, sometimes reported as dissociative identity disorder. He also has autism spectrum disorder.

The pair began an online romance, unbeknownst to Dee Dee, which would later become the catalyst for the tragic events that followed.

2014: Confiding to a friend
In 2014, Gypsy Rose confided to 23-year-old neighbour Aleah Woodmansee, (who, unaware that Gypsy Rose was closer to her own age, considered herself a “big sister”), that she and Nick had discussed eloping and had even chosen names for potential children. Gypsy Rose, who had five separate Facebook accounts, and Nick continued their online relationship, their exchanges sometimes using BDSM elements, which Gypsy Rose has since claimed was more what he was interested in. Woodmansee tried to talk her out of it, still thinking Gypsy was too young and possibly being taken advantage of by an online sexual predator. She considered Gypsy Rose’s plans just “fantasies and dreams and nothing like this would ever really take place.”

Early 2015: Gypsy Rose and Nick meet in person for the first time
Gypsy Rose and Nick had communicated online for two years when they finally arranged to meet at a screening of the live-action version of Disney’s Cinderella in early 2015. Gypsy Rose wanted her mother to casually run into Nick at the theatre so that the pair could be open with their relationship, although things didn’t go as planned. During the film Gypsy Rose went to the bathroom and had sex with Nick in a bathroom stall. After the film, Gypsy Rose, Dee Dee and Nick all ran into each other in the lobby, but Dee Dee found Nick’s behaviour bizarre and forbade her daughter from seeing the young man again.

June 10, 2015: The crime
Upon learning of her mother’s disdain for her boyfriend, Gypsy Rose felt that she only had two options: become pregnant with Nick’s baby or slay Dee Dee. Gypsy Rose felt a baby would make Dee Dee accept Nick as part of their lives, but he refused. Soon afterward, the pair began discussing their plans to end Dee Dee’s life.

Gypsy Rose took hundreds of dollars from Dee Dee to pay for Nick’s transport to Springfield. She also provided him with a knife, gloves and duct tape.

On June 10, 2015, Gypsy Rose texted Nick, “The ***** gonna go down tonight…just the gloves and knife?'” Nick responded, “…duct tape too…to muffle her.” Gypsy said she would “precut” the tape. When Nick arrived at the house Gypsy Rose let him in and then hid in the bathroom with her hands over her ears while Nick stabbed Dee Dee 17 times in her back while she was asleep. Afterwards the two had sex in Gypsy Rose’s room, and took $4,000 in cash that Dee Dee had been keeping in the house, mostly from Rod’s child support checks.

In a later interview, Gypsy Rose said of the experience: “You think that hearing a [slaying] is like what you hear on a horror film or something, but it’s really not. You can stand watching a horror film, but hearing someone actually being [slain] is terrifying, it creates this nauseous feeling in your stomach… All you can think about is how afraid you are.”

June 14, 2015: Police find Dee Dee’s body following a disturbing Facebook post
After the murder, Gypsy Rose and Nick fled to his house in Wisconsin, where they posted a Facebook status to Dee Dee’s account that read, “That b*tch is dead!” Concerned for Gypsy Rose’s safety, friends of the Blanchards called the police, who obtained a search warrant that evening. Police discovered Dee Dee’s body in the bedroom and discovered that Gypsy Rose was missing, which initially led the public to believe that she was in danger.

ABOVE: Gypsy Rose Blanchard, left, and Nicholas Godejohn in 2015. (Photo: Greene County Sheriff’s Office)

June 16, 2015: Gypsy Rose and Nick are arrested
Authorities traced the IP address of the Facebook status and ultimately found Gypsy Rose in Big Bend, Wisconsin with Nick. He surrendered quickly, as did Gypsy Rose who emerged from the house walking, much to the shock of those who believed that she was physically disabled.

June – July 2015: The truth begins to emerge
Gypsy Rose and Nick were charged with Dee Dee’s murder and the subsequent investigation revealed the extent of Dee Dee’s deception and abuse, as well as Gypsy Rose’s true health condition. The courts spent about a month retrieving Gypsy Rose’s medical records – Dee Dee had power of attorney, meaning she controlled all of her daughter’s medical decisions even after she turned 18.

July 5, 2016: Gypsy Rose is sentenced to 10 years in prison
After the judge was finally able to access the records, he arranged a plea deal due to the complexity of the situation. On July 5, 2016, Gypsy Rose accepted the plea bargain agreement pleading guilty to second-degree murder and was sentenced to

February 22, 2019: Nick is sentenced to life in prison
In February 2019, a jury found Nicholas Godejohn guilty of first-degree homicide. He received a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole, which was the only possible option since prosecutors had declined to seek the death penalty. Nick’s lawyer attempted to obtain a new trial on the grounds of a psychiatrist’s testimony, in which he claimed that Nick had diminished capacity and could not be held responsible for his actions. A judge denied a new trial.

2015 – Present: Life in prison and ongoing media attention
Since accepting her plea deal, Gypsy Rose has been serving her sentence in Missouri’s Chillicothe Correctional Center. She did not talk to the media until after she had made her plea, and has given numerous interviews in the past eight years. Her story has attracted extensive media attention, resulting in documentaries and dramatizations including: The HBO produced documentary film Mommy Dead and Dearest (2017) and an 8-episode miniseries The Act (2019), which can be found streaming on Hulu and also on Crave in Canada. Actress Patricia Arquette was cast as Dee Dee in the film, and won a Golden Globe Award and an Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress.

The case has also sparked discussions on the nature of victimhood and the complexities of the criminal justice system in dealing with unique circumstances.

Gypsy Rose Blanchard is set to be released from the Missouri Department of Corrections on December 28, 2023. By then she will have served 85% of her 10-year sentence. Prior to her prison sentence, Gypsy Rose spent time in the Greene County Jail, and her time in the county jail contributes to her overall sentence.

Her story continues to evoke public sympathy and outrage, serving as a stark reminder of the hidden abuses that can lurk behind closed doors. Her case continues to be studied as an extreme example of Munchausen by Proxy and the psychological impact of prolonged abuse.

Tags: Gypsy Rose Blanchard, murder, murder trial, Nicholas Godejohn, true crime

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