The Act: the terrible true story of Gypsy Rose and her mother Dee Dee

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The story of Gypsy Rose and Dee Dee Blanchard initially seems to be a story of loving relationship between mother and daughter, who walk together on a path of resilience overcoming many obstacles. Indeed it seemed this way for many years. The world discovered only afterwards a disturbing reality that has shuffled all the cards on the table.

July 1991. Gypsy Rose is born, daughter of Dee Dee and Rod Blanchard, a young couple from Louisiana. Dee Dee is 24 and Rod is a 17 year old boy. Shortly after the birth of his daughter, the father decides to break up with his wife, so the family unit shrinks and Dee Dee and Gipsy start living just the two of them, moving to the home of the mother’s relatives.

The first problems begin when Gypsy starts to suffer from sleep apnea, and for this reason she is often taken to the hospital, where she is monitored during the night with special machines.

At the age of 7 Gypsy, after a fall on her grandfather’s motorcycle, was taken to the hospital to have her knee wound treated. On her return, however, the mother states that the her daughter’s injuries require several surgical operations, and for this reason she puts her in a wheelchair.

Things continue to get further complicated when she is diagnosed with muscular dystrophy and leukemia at the age of 8. The mother will later state that her daughter also suffers from mental retardation.

Her story begins to circulate and a short time later, fundraisers are organized to help the mother afford care for the child. Gypsy undergoes many surgeries, during one of which her salivary glands are removed. Later his teeth begin to deteriorate and for this they are extracted. At night she is forced to sleep with an artificial respirator.

In 2005, Dee Dee claimed to have lost her home in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, so they are helped by an association that gives her mother and daughter a home in Missouri. Their story moves everyone and Dee Dee becomes an example of a mother who does not give up and who dedicates body and soul to her cause.

However, something didn’t convince Missouri doctors, who had asked Dee Dee for the child’s medical reports. The woman reports that she cannot show them because they were lost after the hurricane.

Suspicion begins to make room among doctors and this will be the prelude to a disconcerting truth.

Dee Dee and Gypsy have a shared Facebook account where all their vicissitudes, travels, operations and fragments of daily life are posted.

June 14th, 2015. A disturbing post appears on the account’s Facebook wall.

“That Bitch is dead!”

Panic immediately breaks out among the followers of the profile. What happened? Has the account been hacked? Or something more serious?

The local authorities are notified and thus decide to go to the house where the mother and daughter live. On reaching the place, they break into the apartment and make a chilling discovery: the body of Dee Dee Blanchard lies on the bed, killed by numerous stab wounds. There is no one else inside the house, despite Gypsy’s wheelchair being in the house.

People begin to think about a possible kidnapping, until the next day the daughter is found, in the company of a boy named Nicholas Godejohn, in Wisconsin.

Gypsy’s revelations are shocking. In fact she has never suffered from any of the ailments that were declared by her mother. No sleep apnea, no physical or mental disabilities. Her history has been characterized by abuse since the early years of her life, making her grow up in the midst of a series of physical and psychological oppressions that have profoundly marked her existence. The mother had woven a canvas capable of deceiving many people, even giving her daughter substances that simulated the symptoms of various pathologies.

Gypsy, meanwhile, was growing up and secretly met a guy online, Nicholas Godejohn. The two form a relationship online and the girl gets connected with him, confessing the reality of her situation.

So they begin to study an escape plan to be able to move in together. The plan comes to fruition on the night of June 14th, 2015. Nicholas sneaks into the family’s home while Dee Dee is sleeping. Gypsy Rose gives him gloves and a knife. Godejohn stabs Dee Dee in her sleep numerous times until she is left lifeless. After the murder, the two have sex, take $4,000 and run away to Nicholas’ house, where they will be found the following day.

Subsequent investigations will show that Dee Dee Blanchard suffered from Munchausen syndrome, which is a mental disorder that leads a parent to believe that their child has pathologies, in order to gain people’s solidarity.

Meanwhile, the two boys are arrested and subjected to two separate trials. Nicholas Godejohn is sentenced to life in prison. Gypsy Rose is instead sentenced to 10 years in prison for second degree murder, granting her the extenuating circumstances for what she had suffered.

The story is one of the most unsettling and incredible ones in recent years. A story apparently of maternal love actually hid a theater of abuses that have occurred over time and that have harshly marked the childhood of a child. An intricate deception, ending with a fact of blood.

The case attracted great media attention, and in 2019 the TV show The Act was made, inspired by the story.

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