Gypsy Rose Blanchard had her mother killed. Now free, what’s her story?

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Gypsy Rose Blanchard, a woman who conspired to kill her mother and pleaded guilty to charges of second-degree murder in 2015, was released from the Chillicothe Correctional Center, Missouri, on parole on Thursday.

She was in prison after she persuaded her online boyfriend to murder her mother, who had been abusive. Blanchard’s case – which spawned a popular crime drama, a documentary, a book and more – also drew widespread attention to a condition known as Munchausen syndrome by proxy, which her mother, Dee Dee Blanchard is believed to have suffered from.

Gypsy Rose Blanchard, 32, has served 85 percent of her original sentence and was released after eight years instead of the initially determined 10.

Here is what there is to know:

What happened to Gypsy Rose Blanchard?

Blanchard’s case drew widespread attention globally after she was portrayed by American actress Joey King in a television series called The Act – a vexing retelling of Blanchard’s life.

A scene from the 2019 show that captures her story shows King as Blanchard, with a shaved head, glasses and a gummy smile revealing extracted teeth.

Wearing her huge glasses and pink pyjamas from the kids’ section, Blanchard is crouching over a laptop within the coldness of her room. She cautiously looks behind her to make sure no one is watching her, and looks back at the laptop screen, smiling.

She is secretly making a Facebook account but when the time comes to enter her birth date and year, she is confused. Her mother told her she was born in 1995. Wait no, 1993. This uncertainty brings her to snoop through her mother’s belongings and find her birth certificate which reads “1991”. She looks at her sleeping mother, betrayed.

Her age was not the only thing her mother had lied to her about. Blanchard’s mother, Clauddine (Dee Dee) Blanchard had convinced her daughter and several doctors that Blanchard had several disabilities including muscular dystrophy, epilepsy, leukaemia and vision impairment. Blanchard has none of these illnesses and to this day remains physically and psychologically healthy.

Due to her mother’s claims, Blanchard was prescribed several medications and underwent many medical procedures including eye surgery and surgery to remove her salivary glands. Her mother also claimed Blanchard required a wheelchair and feeding tube.

Blanchard’s mother got away with this by claiming she and her daughter were hit by Hurricane Katrina, which compromised her medical history. She would also not revisit doctors who questioned her.

What is Munchausen by proxy?

Michael Stanfield, Gypsy Blanchard’s trial lawyer, has said that her mother had Munchausen syndrome by proxy. While no formal diagnosis was ever made while Dee Dee was alive, other independent experts too have said that they believe she had the condition.

Munchausen syndrome is a psychological condition where an individual deliberately produces symptoms of illness to draw care and attention to themselves.

When it is by proxy, the individual produces these symptoms for a relative instead of themselves. Parents or caregivers might seek sympathy through the exaggerated or made-up illnesses of their children. It is also known as factitious disorder imposed on another and is relatively uncommon.

How did Gypsy convince her boyfriend to kill her mother?

As Blanchard grew older, her mother’s physical abuse intensified and she began to question whether she was actually sick.

She then met Nicholas Godejohn on a Christian dating website and three years later, the two devised a plan to kill Blanchard’s mother. Godejohn visited Blanchard’s house and stabbed Blanchard’s mother to death with a knife supplied by Blanchard, who was hiding in the bathroom.

The two then made their way by bus to Wisconsin, where they were arrested in June 2015.

Blanchard pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in 2016 after confessing that she convinced Godejohn to stab her mother. At Godejohn’s 2018 trial, she said “I talked him into it.”

Godejohn is serving a life sentence. “Nick was so in love with her and so obsessed with her that he would do anything,” Godejohn’s trial lawyer Dewayne Perry argued in court, saying his client has autism and was manipulated.

Blanchard told People magazine that she regrets what she did.

Gypsy’s time in jail

Blanchard looks completely different now from when she lived with her mother. Her hair has grown and she walks without a wheelchair.

“I can honestly say I’ve rarely had a client who looks exceedingly better after doing a fairly long prison sentence,” Stanfield said.

“Prison is generally not a place where you become happy and healthy. And I say that because, to me, that’s kind of the evidence to the rest of the world as to just how bad what Gypsy was going through really was.”

Besides The Act, Blanchard’s case resulted in an HBO documentary, a book and an upcoming docuseries.

In September, it was confirmed that Blanchard was granted parole.

Source

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Al Jazeera and news agencies

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