(Court TV) — One of the decade’s most bizarre true crime stories is back in the limelight. Between Gypsy Rose Blanchard‘s Dec. 28 release from prison, her media tour, and Lifetime’s “The Prison Confessions of Gypsy Rose Blanchard,” you might think you’re caught up on all things Gypsy Rose. But Blanchard’s ebook “Released: Conversations on the Eve of Freedom” (BenBella Books) was released this week, and it marks the first time Blanchard has participated in the telling of her own story.
True crime junkies initially latched on to the story when details were still scant: On June 14, 2015 the Facebook status of the shared account between 48-year-old Missouri mom Clauddine “Dee Dee” Blanchard and her 19-year-old daughter Gypsy (who was really 23, more on that later…) read, “That bitch is dead.” (That Facebook status is still there).
The women’s friends’ worst fears were realized when Dee Dee was found stabbed to death in her bed. Loved ones panicked even more when they learned Gypsy was missing. Dee Dee was her sole caregiver. As far as they knew, Gypsy couldn’t walk, got her nutrition from a feeding tube, suffered from a complicated list of ailments, and her life depended on prescription medications that only Dee Dee knew how and when to administer.
Friends and family were gobsmacked when Gypsy was found safe the next day in Wisconsin with her boyfriend, Nicholas Godejohn. They saw a shackled Gypsy walk into court. No one knew she could walk. The truth was starting to come out. Gypsy had suffered a lifetime of abuse at the hands of Dee Dee, who herself is believed to have suffered from a condition that used to be known as Munchausen syndrome by proxy. It is now referred to as factitious disorder. It is a psychological disorder in which a caretaker makes someone sick, or pretends the person is sick, to get attention.
Gypsy, who had begun sneaking onto social media, met Godejohn on a Christian dating site and an online romance ensued. The pair eventually plotted for Godejohn to travel from his home in Wisconsin to the Blanchard home in Springfield, Missouri. Gypsy let Godejohn into the house, handed him a knife and hid in the bathroom as he stabbed Dee Dee 17 times.
Gypsy reached a plea deal with prosecutors. She pled guilty to second-degree murder and was sentenced to 10 years at the Chillicothe Correctional Center in Chillicothe, Missouri. Godejohn opted to go to trial, and is now serving life without parole for first-degree murder.
Using Gypsy as a pawn, Dee Dee had scammed individuals and charitable organizations into giving her things like money, trips, and even an entire house.
“Released,” written by Gypsy with Melissa Moore and Michele Matrisciani, is a capsule of sorts, in that it conveys Gypsy’s unique perspective as someone who’s about to get out of prison. She wasn’t your typical soon-to-be-freed inmate when she wrote the ebook — she was someone who had never experienced freedom until prison.
Much of the ebook consists of verbatim conversations between Gypsy and Moore, who spoke weekly for five years. The ebook focuses on the three months leading up to Gypsy’s release, or as she aptly put it:
“I’d like to think of this endeavor as a rewrite of a misinformed story you’ve been told, like the Taylor’s Version re-recordings. I’m no Taylor Swift, but if this ebook were an album, I’d title it Gypsy’s Version — the only version that should be told — raw, revealing, and in rhythm with the real me.”
Gypsy Rose’s letter to her mother
The ebook’s introduction features a letter Gypsy wrote to Dee Dee from prison back in 2018. It details what it was like to have no free will for the first 23 years of her life: she was subjected to unnecessary surgeries and medications and missed out on milestones like the first day of school, prom, and childhood friendships.
Gypsy also comes to terms with her actions, writing:
“I am able to finally let go of the resentment I held against you and forgive you, and moreover I want to let you know that I’m so sorry for having a part in your death — murder was never the answer or solution. There is not a single day that you go unremembered, and I will carry this regret and remorse for the rest of my life. I will always love you for bringing me into this world, and will remember you with love for the woman I know was a good person behind the mental disorder.”
The ebook then delves into the nitty-gritty of Gypsy’s life in shocking details:
- Gypsy, who is 32 today, didn’t learn her true age until 2015 (she thought she was 14 when she was 19, etc.).
- She took baths with her mother as an adult and her mother shaved her vagina. She referred to it as making her “clean.”
- Until prison, Gypsy had only been educated via a Christian homeschool curriculum. She didn’t know much beyond ABCs and 123s. Gypsy eventually obtained her high school equivalency through prison.
- To this day, Gypsy wears dentures because Dee Dee numbed her gums to make her drool so doctors would remove her salivary glands. Some teeth fell out, others required extraction, the rest decayed.
- Gypsy’s father, Rod Blanchard, isn’t the deadbeat she was raised to believe he was — it was her public defender who notified Gypsy that Dee Dee had intercepted money, gifts and letters he had sent. (They have a great relationship now, and the ebook also details the relationship Gypsy now shares with her dad, stepmom, and their family).
- Gypsy’s public defender was also the person who informed her that she didn’t have leukemia and other debilitating ailments.
- Somewhat ironically, Gypsy had a hard time trusting that public defender because at the time, she was coming to grips with the fact that the only person she trusted, Dee Dee, had betrayed her for her entire life.
- She and never heard of Munchausen by proxy until preparing for trial. It wasn’t until then that she realized her mother suffered from mental illness.
Gypsy believed her mother was a witch
Gypsy explains in the ebook that, as a kid, she had no reason to think their everyday life was dysfunctional: They’d wake up at around 11 a.m. Dee Dee would bake an entire tube of Pillsbury biscuits, eat it herself, and feed Gypsy a mix of PediaSure, electrolytes and liquid nutrition supplements along with her medications.
They’d watch soap operas and Disney movies and only got dressed if they had an errand to run. Those errands often consisted of Dee Dee pushing Gypsy around Walmart in her wheelchair while they shoplifted items that they hid under the Disney princess dresses Gypsy wore. At night, Gypsy slept next to her mother.
Gypsy would get in trouble for things like sneaking onto the internet, and Dee Dee’s methods of punishment sometimes dabbled in the supernatural. One time she purchased raw cow’s tongue to cook up a spell that Gypsy explained had two intentions:
“To cleanse my sinful soul, and to cast upon me a lifelong curse. Gypsy shall never find happiness; she shall never be free.”
At long last, freedom
Gypsy married Ryan Anderson while in prison and has documented their new life together via social media. Now that she’s free, Gypsy has given a lot of thought to, well, giving. One of her goals is to give back to some of the organizations that her mother conned, such as Habitat for Humanity and the Make-A-Wish Foundation. She also wants to mentor others who have experienced trauma and abuse and were otherwise silenced and serve as an advocate for them.
Not a day goes by that Gypsy is unaware of the gravity of her situation. She knows she played a part in her mother’s death, and she hopes that her newfound freedom will permit her to “live my life the way my mother didn’t know how to.”
On a lighter note, you’d think that someone who was forced to watch Disney movies daily, shoplifted items under princess dresses, and whose mother utilized potions and cauldrons in punishments might be a little Disney averse, but no! Gypsy’s still a Disney fan and loves to wear costumes.
“Oh, yes! I still love to dress up. When I first got to prison, I took my sheet off my bunk and wore it as a toga and did the whole Ancient Greece thing. Then the shine wore off and I stopped dressing up. I’ll probably have Ryan dress up with me next year. I really want to do ‘Beauty and the Beast’. I still like Disney, but I don’t make my whole life revolve around it. I can beat anyone at Disney trivia.”