Her murder case made international headlines and inspired a slew of cable movies and TV specials. Now, an effort’s underway to get Gypsy Rose Blanchard out of prison early.
Gypsy and her then-boyfriend, Nicholas Godejohn, are both in prison for the 2015 murder of Gypsy’s mom, Dee Dee Blanchard, who was believed to have an attention-seeking psychological condition known as Munchausen syndrome by proxy.
Dee Dee, a single mother, convinced doctors that Gypsy was an extremely sick child even though she wasn’t. She told everyone Gypsy had diseases like leukemia and epilepsy, forced her to use a wheelchair and a feeding tube and made her take prescription drugs she didn’t need. Dee Dee even shaved Gypsy’s head to make her appear sick. Charities showered them with donations.
By the time she was 23, Gypsy realized she wasn’t sick and fell in love with Nicholas, whom she met on an online dating site. The two wanted to be together, but knew Dee Dee wouldn’t approve. So they killed her.
A short time later, Gypsy’s father Rod Blanchard, who split with Dee Dee shortly after Gypsy was born, started an online petition, Free Gypsy Rose Blanchard, pleading for his daughter’s early release from jail.
“We all have failed Gypsy: her mother, the doctors, the police and myself,” he said in the petition. “She has suffered long enough.”
The petition lingered online for two years with little support. Then in spring of 2019, with Gypsy’s case in the news again, the petition suddenly started gaining momentum. By late April 2019, it had more than 134,000 signatures and counting.
Gypsy is required to serve 8.5 years of her 10-year sentence, but is there a possibility it will be shortened? A&E Real Crime spoke with her father, Rod Blanchard, about both the obstacles and optimistic signs.
Gypsy’s not eligible for parole until 2024, although she has a parole hearing in December 2021. Can the petition help?
We’re going to get cranking here, and do some research and make some calls. We hope to meet with the Missouri governor (Mike Parson) or someone in the parole department to see if there’s anything we can do to expedite her release. She does have a lot of supporters and she gets a lot of mail. Gypsy asked them to write letters of support to the governor and parole board.
Are there any hopeful signs? What are the obstacles?
We’re being optimistic. We’re looking to see who’s been granted clemency before, but there’s not a big history of people being pardoned. There are quite a few petitions already for people who have life sentences for non-violent drug crimes. Gypsy got her sentence just before (the previous Missouri governor) was out of office. Governors typically grant clemency at the end of their terms, but this governor is new. So let’s say it does get enough attention, and he is considering it—it’ll still not be until 2022. But even two years would be a big difference. We’re going to do as much as we can and hope the governor is sympathetic and makes the decision before he comes up for re-election.
One of the most shocking things about this crime is that the doctors went along with these treatments Gypsy didn’t need. Did you (or Gypsy) ever try to sue the doctors for malpractice?
It has crossed our minds. I don’t like to say the doctors were “in on it.” I’m not going to strictly blame them. We contacted four different lawyers. One apologized and said he couldn’t do it. The rest never called back. I don’t know what kind of ground we have to stand on. One lawyer said we don’t have a case, and it happened too long ago. Gypsy is looking into it (a lawsuit). If she wants to do that, we’ll support her. I do think there is some accountability on the medical side. There was a case with at least one doctor for sure, and maybe more, who didn’t do simple due diligence.
Do you think lawyers hesitate to take the case because Munchausen by proxy is controversial? And not all doctors think it’s a real thing? Or maybe there’s not a precedent for Munchausen’s victims murdering their abusers?
I think that has a lot to do with it. There’s no precedent. It’s a gray area, and it’d be hard to prove.
How’s Gypsy doing?
She’s doing well. She has a few bad days, as expected. But for the most part, she doesn’t seem depressed. She seems happy and optimistic. As long as she stays busy and has her support group, she can get through this. She’s nearly completed her GED. And she has a job taking pictures of visitors who come during visiting hours, and of the (prison) facility for their bulletins.
Gypsy recently got engaged to a man she met via pen pal while in prison. What do you know about this man, or their relationship, and how do you feel about it?
I don’t want to comment on a whole lot of that. I don’t think he’s a bad guy, but I haven’t met him yet. We hope to meet him and be observant and see how that goes.
What is your relationship with Gypsy Rose like now, compared to when Dee Dee was alive?
It’s completely different. There’s no comparison. She feels like she can tell me anything, and she can open up to me, which is great. I think she feels like she can trust me, and vice versa, which was not there before. So that’s a big step. I talk to her once a week. She calls home two to three times a week and spends hours on the phone with Kristy (Rod’s wife and Gypsy’s stepmom). We’re going to visit her soon (at Chillicothe Correctional Center in Missouri).
Does Gypsy ever talk about Dee Dee?
She basically wants to put all that in the past. Sometimes she wants to talk about it, but she’s more focused on her future.