On 14 June 2015 police discovered the body of Dee Dee Blanchard in the bedroom of her house near Springfield Missouri. She had been murdered a few days before, with the cause of death multiple stab wounds. Of equal concern was the fact that her severely disabled daughter, Gypsy Rose, was missing from the family home.
A police investigation was launched immediately and uncovered a sensational series of events that left many law officers and psychologists totally gobsmacked.
It turned out that Gypsy Rose was not the young teenager with multiple physical and mental problems as portrayed by her mother. She was in fact a young adult with normal capabilities. However she had been forced by her mother to pretend to be disabled and had been kept that way through forced medication, along with constant psychological and physical abuse.
Dee Dee presented as a classic case of Munchausen syndrome by proxy, or MbP, a condition where a caregiver – such as a spouse or parent – exaggerates or induces a state of mental and physical illness in the person under their care. The purpose of this bizarre conduct is to elicit sympathy and attention from others.
Gypsy Rose had become increasingly angry and resentful with her treatment, particularly after becoming interested in men, some of whom she met online. In 2012 she made the online acquaintance with Nicholas Godejohn, a young man who lived in Wisconsin.
Together they planned to murder Dee Dee, with Godejohn eventually stabbing her to death sometime around 10 June 2015. They then left posts on Dee Dee’s Facebook account to ensure her body would be found. It was through these posts that police tracked the young couple down, living at Godejohn’s Wisconsin home. After further investigation they were both charged with murder and committed for trial.
The case created a sensation with a great deal of public sympathy generated for Gypsy Rose. Nevertheless in July 2015 she was sentenced to ten years in prison. Godejohn still faces sentencing but as the admitted murderer his time behind bars is expected to be longer.
Psychiatrist and MbP expert Dr. Marc Feldman later remarked that the Gypsy Rose case was the first he had encountered where the MbP victim had killed the perpetrator.
Image: Picture of Ms. Blanchard, taken sometime between 2007 and her death in 2015, courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.