Dede and Gypsy Rose Blancharde Murder Documentary to Air on HBO

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Just after Mother’s Day, HBO premiered a true crime documentary titled Mommy Dead and Dearest, which told the story of a young girl, Gypsy Rose Blanchard, who was accused of murdering her mother, Clauddine “Dee Dee” Blanchard in 2015. That crime alone is heartbreaking, but the truly horrific part is the shocking relationship between Dee Dee and Gypsy.

Since Gypsy was born, Dee Dee had convinced those around that her daughter was sick. She told people, including Gypsy’s dad, that she suffered from sleep apnea as a baby. That progressed into claims of other disorders including leukemia, “retardation,” and muscular dystrophy. Dee Dee also lied about her daughter’s age. Rod, Gypsy’s dad, said that his ex-wife told him that his daughter’s mental capacity was behind at least five years. Gypsy also says that her mother told her she was visually and hearing-impaired, suffered from asthma and epilepsy, and was paralyzed from the waist down, “among other things.”

In the documentary, directed by Erin Lee Carr, viewers meet a 25-year-old Gypsy Rose in prison attire, as she is currently serving 10 years in prison for plotting the murder of her mother. When Carr asks Gypsy to describe her mother, she responds by saying she was “unique.” Calling Dee Dee unique is an understatement when you consider the fact that she lied to family and friends, and Gypsy herself, about ailments that her daughter didn’t really have.

When viewers see Gypsy’s medicine cabinet, they learn it is actually a closet. She is seen in countless photos and videos sitting in a wheelchair, with a buzzed haircut, which her mother would cut since “it’s gonna fall out anyways.” But she always had a huge smile. She really did look like she had a happy childhood.

“I knew that I was different,” Gypsy says in the documentary, “or my life was different from other kids, but people thought of us as the sweetest mother-daughter family ever.” Looking back now, Gypsy says she had no idea abuse was going on in her house.

The abuse was likely in the form of Munchausen syndrome by proxy, a “rare psychological disorder marked by attention-seeking behavior by a caregiver through those who are in their care.” Gypsy wasn’t sick at all. It was her mother who was truly ill. “I was just as much in the dark as everyone else,” Gypsy said in the documentary. “The only thing I knew is that I could walk.”

In 2011, Gypsy tried to run away with a 35-year-old man she met at a sci-fi convention. Dee Dee found them in a hotel and told the man that her daughter was a minor, even though she was actually 19. Dee Dee destroyed her daughter’s computer and cell phone. Gypsy recalls her mother saying, “If you ever try to do that again, I’m going to smash your fingers with a hammer.”

So while Dee Dee kept a close eye on her daughter, Gypsy ventured online a lot. She apparently had five Facebook accounts.

She met Nicholas Godejoh around 2012, the man also in prison and charged with Dee Dee’s murder, on a Christian dating website. The two spoke for two years online. Godejoh suffered from mental illness, which Gypsy knew about. Gypsy says that Godejoh was willing to protect her from anyone, even her mother.

They called the plot to murder Dee Dee “Plan B.” And while Gypsy says that the idea to kill her mother was just that and that “it was never a reality,” she did instruct Godejoh to come over to her house and kill Dee Dee.

Gypsy says that on the night of the murder, when her mom went to sleep, the last words she said to her daughter were “‘Don’t hurt me.'”

Police got a tip that they should do a wellness check on the Blanchards. They found Dee Dee stabbed to death, and Gypsy was missing. Police found Gypsy with Godejoh after they learned of a Facebook post that said “That bitch is dead.” Gypsy posted that status, and the IP address led them to Godejoh’s home. Gypsy pleaded guilty to second-degree murder for her role in the crime, and was sentenced to 10 years in prison in Missouri.

Documentarian Carr tells Refinery29 that everyone she told about the story became engulfed with it too, which makes it no surprise that articles online went viral, including one written by writer Michelle Dean (who is in the documentary) for BuzzFeed.

“I was like, ‘Ugh, fine. It’ll be on BuzzFeed, it’ll be fine. They’ll interview her, it’ll get a couple hundred thousand hits.’ Then it got 4 million hits and I was like, ‘No! People know about my secret story now!'” Carr said to Refinery29.

Through recollections of family and friends, it’s evident that Dee Dee had was suffering from undiagnosed mental disorders. Some in the film said she was bipolar, while others just called her strange. It’s not clear whether Gypsy learned some of those manipulation tactics from her mother. “I do think Gypsy is potentially dangerous. Dee Dee was a master manipulator,” Dean says in the film. “It’s impossible that Gypsy would not have picked this up and used it.”

Carr tells Rolling Stone that she did notice that Gypsy’s personality altered depending on who she was with.

“I could see her [change] as she shifted from me, as she shifted to Michelle Dean, as she shifted to her parents. That’s not to say she was lying or being manipulative. That’s what she’s been taught. It’s impression management,” Carr said to Rolling Stone.

Related: A Girl’s Junior Prom Date Just Admitted to Being a Part of Her Alleged Murder

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