Gypsy Rose Blanchard was the victim of Munchausen by proxy at the hands of her mother, Dee Dee Blanchard

By Harriet Sokmensuer
March 20, 2019 04:56 PM
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A new crime series airing on Hulu brings the disturbing story of Gypsy Rose Blanchard back into the spotlight nearly four years after she orchestrated her mother’s killing in order to escape a life of abuse.

The Act, starring Joey King as Gypsy Rose Blanchard and Patricia Arquette as her abusive mother, Dee Dee Blanchard, premieres today. Here are five things to know about the case.

1. Gypsy Rose Was Victim of Munchausen by Proxy

Experts have said that Gypsy Rose was the victim of Munchausen by proxy, a rare form of abuse in which a guardian — in this case Dee Dee — exaggerates or induces illness in a child for attention and sympathy.

From the time she was very young, Gypsy Rose seemingly suffered from a variety of ailments. The Missouri girl spent her life in a wheelchair, was in and out of hospitals and took dozens of medications. But her illnesses were all fabricated by Dee Dee, who abused her daughter physically, mentally and emotionally until the day she was killed.

Credit: Courtesy HBO

2. Dee Dee Made Gypsy Rose Shave Head

As part of the abuse, Gypsy Rose was forced by Dee Dee use a wheelchair, even though she didn’t need one, and underwent numerous surgeries later deemed unnecessary.

She was also forced shaved her head to appear like she went through chemotherapy and forced to take medications that made her lose her teeth and induced symptoms of medical issues Dee Dee told doctors that Gypsy Rose suffered from.

Gypsy Rose
| Credit: Courtesy HBO

3. Dee Dee Portrayed Herself as Doting Caretaker

Dee Dee and Gypsy Rose arrived in Springfield, Missouri, claiming they fled the devastation of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, in 2005. The story provided cover for Gypsy Rose’s lack of medical records, which Dee Dee said had been lost in the storm.

Springfield community members welcomed the pair. Dee Dee was often featured on local television and received large donations from national charities. Among the gifts to the family was the pink and white house they lived in.

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Gypsy Rose
| Credit: Courtesy of HBO

4. Dee Dee Falsely Claimed Gypsy Rose Had Mental Age of 7-Year-Old

Dee Dee told local charities and doctors that her daughter had the mental age of a 7-year-old, which was untrue. She also said Gypsy Rose was a teenager. However, Gypsy Rose was actually in her 20s.

Gypsy Rose later told investigators Dee Dee wouldn’t let her speak during doctors visits and told her that if she ever tried to escape, police wouldn’t believe her story.

“I can’t imagine anything else apart from raising someone in a prison [where] you would be able to control somebody [more],” Gypsy Rose’s father, Rod Blanchard, previously told PEOPLE. “It was the perfect breeding ground for a controlled situation.”

5. Gypsy Rose Plotted Mom’s Stabbing Murder With Boyfriend

In June 2015, Dee Dee was found dead in her bed of stab wounds. Gypsy Rose and her boyfriend, Nick Godejohn, whom she met and mostly interacted with online, were both charged with first-degree murder.

Godejohn had taken a bus from his home state of Wisconsin to help Gypsy Rose after she revealed to him that her medical conditions were a lie and she needed to escape her mother.

Nicholas Godejohn and Gypsy Rose Blanchard
| Credit: WAUKESHA COUNTY, WISC., JAIL BOOKING PHOTO (2)

In the hours after Dee Dee’s death, Gypsy Rose celebrated her newfound freedom with Godejohn, then 26, at a local motel in Springfield, where they ate brownies and stayed overnight.

They were later arrested in Wisconsin.

6. Gypsy Rose and Boyfriend Are Convicted of Murder

In July 2016, Gypsy Rose pleaded guilty to second-degree murder. She is currently serving a 10-year prison sentence.

Gypsy Rose Blanchard with Rod Blanchard
| Credit: Courtesy HBO

Now, as Gypsy Rose serves her sentence, her family says they will be there for her when she is released.

“She’ll always have a home here,” Rod Blanchard previously told PEOPLE. “We’ll put her on the right path.”