The father of Gypsy Rose Blanchard, the 25-year-old woman serving 10 years in prison for plotting her mother’s murder, says he understands why she had her mother killed.
The twisted saga is the subject of an upcoming HBO documentary, Mommy Dead and Dearest, airing on Monday and featured in this week’s issue of PEOPLE.
“Yeah, it’s wrong, and there were other options that Gypsy had — which she tried some of those avenues and they didn’t work out,” says her father, Rod Blanchard. “Bad as it sounds, she [Gypsy’s mom] asked for what she got.”
Dee Dee Blanchard, 48, was found stabbed to death by Springfield, Missouri, authorities on June 14, 2015, after concerned friends said they saw troubling posts on her Facebook account. One read, “the Bitch is dead.”
More troubling was that, at the time of Dee Dee’s murder, Gypsy appeared to be missing. Neighbors told authorities that she had leukemia and muscular dystrophy. And she used a wheelchair, they said.
But all was not as it appeared: Gypsy was arrested with her boyfriend a day later in Big Bend, Wisconsin, where police discovered that she could walk.
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Doctors now say that Gypsy was the victim of a severe case of Munchausen by proxy, in which a guardian, in this case her mother, exaggerates or induces illness in a child for attention and sympathy.
She and her mother had arrived in Springfield years earlier, claiming they fled from Hurricane Katrina, and authorities believe fraud was a motive: Dee Dee received a home built by Habitat for Humanity as well as trips to Disney World paid for by nonprofit foundations.
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According to Gypsy’s father, Dee Dee — whom he met, married and separated from before their daughter was born — had moved away from him with Gypsy and said he could only rarely see her, as he wasn’t equipped to handle her care.
Gypsy and her boyfriend, Nick Godejohn, were charged with first-degree murder in connection with Dee Dee’s death. In July 2016, Gypsy pleaded guilty to second degree-murder.
Godejohn is awaiting trial. He has argued he killed Dee Dee to free Gypsy.
He has pleaded not guilty and is awaiting mental evaluation, a Greene County, Missouri, court clerk official tells PEOPLE. His attorney could not be reached for comment.
“We still are learning [of new things] and amazed at some of the things that went on,” Rod tells PEOPLE.
For example, Dee Dee forced Gypsy to shave her head, so as to appear she was on chemotherapy, and take unnecessary medications that induced symptoms of other illnesses. Even doctors believed the doting mother, who never let Gypsy out of her sight.
Today, as Gypsy serves her prison sentence, Rod and his wife, Kristy, say they will be there for her when she’s released.
“She’ll always have a home here,” Rod says. “We’ll put her on the right path.”
Mommy Dead and Dearest airs Monday (10 p.m. ET) on HBO.