The Strange Reality Behind Gypsy-Rose Blanchard And The Internet's Obsession With Her

Ever since it hit the national news in 2015 the story of Gypsy-Rose Blanchard has fascinated the general public. The shocking tale of psychological abuse and then cold-blooded murder captivated a nation. But how is it that a woman who was charged with murdering her mother and has just finished serving a ten-year sentence has somehow managed to meet and marry her husband behind bars? And why has she quickly become, for want of a better description, some kind of internet celebrity?

Complex case

It should be said straight off the bat that the story of how and why Gypsy-Rose became an internet celebrity is a complex one. It’s certainly not a case of her being massively loved by the public like, say, Taylor Swift. No, the younger people from Generation Z are not “stanning” her like the Swifties do Taylor, or the Selenators do Selena Gomez. “America’s Sweetheart” she ain’t.

But Gypsy-Rose’s bizarre and frightening case is far from clear-cut. There are extraordinary — and arguably extenuating — circumstances with regard to the murder of her mom Clauddine “Dee Dee”. And to fully understand them we have to go right back to the beginning of her astonishing life.

Born in 1991

Gypsy-Rose Blanchard was born on July 27, 1991, in Golden Meadow, Louisiana, the first and only child of Rod and Dee Dee Blanchard. The Rose in her name came from her father’s love of Guns N’ Roses. According to People, her parents had first met in high school.

Later they would meet again in a bowling alley bar, and the pair got together following that renewed acquaintance: you might say that Dee Dee had been bowled over by Rod. Anyway, after a short period of dating, Dee Dee discovered that she was pregnant. And as a result, she and Rod decided that they should tie the knot.

Short marriage

Rod had only been 17 at the time of the pregnancy though, while Dee Dee was seven years his senior. The young newlyweds clearly rushed into things, and the marriage wouldn’t last long at all. Indeed, they would split up before Gypsy-Rose had even entered the world.

Rod later told Buzzfeed News how his short marriage to Dee Dee was quickly quashed following a sudden realization upon turning 18. He said, “I woke up on my 18th birthday, and realized I wasn't where I was supposed to be. I wasn't in love with her, really. I knew I got married for the wrong reasons.”

Dee Dee fails to reconcile with Rod

As a result of the split from Rod, Dee Dee took Gypsy-Rose to live with her family for a period. The ditched newlywed would make several bids to rekindle her relationship with Rod, but her appeals would ultimately fall on deaf ears: they were finished as a couple.

All the same, Rod continued to see his baby daughter, actually being involved in her life to a certain extent up until she reached the age of ten. Rod would relocate only a few months after Gypsy-Rose’s birth, and ultimately remarry and have two more children with his new wife Kristy. Those children — a son named Dylan and daughter called Mia — would become Gypsy-Rose’s step-brother and -sister.

Sleep apnea scam

The abuse of Gypsy-Rose by her mother apparently began when she had been just three months old. Although she was born healthy, Dee Dee — who for a while worked as a nurse’s aide — started claiming that her infant daughter was suffering from sleep apnea, a potentially serious disorder that affects breathing and is often linked to snoring.

As a result, Dee Dee frequented the hospital with her baby in hand. However, doctors could find nothing wrong with Gypsy-Rose, even after numerous overnight stays and performing several tests. In hindsight, perhaps the alarm bells ought to have begun ringing at this point.

Chromosomal defect con

At the time, Dee Dee had appeared unassured by the doctor’s findings. But in reality, she was intent on creating a fraudulent reality for her daughter: she continued to claim that Gypsy-Rose was ill. She told her ex-husband Rod that she was convinced their daughter had a chromosomal defect.

In 2018 Rod recalled to ABC News, “Dee Dee was saying that [Gypsy] was sick, had problems sleeping, epilepsy, and it just progressed from there. All the visits, Dee Dee had to be there the whole time. Something never felt right about it. Dee Dee was so controlling.”

First eight years

That controlling instinct would get more and more pronounced over time. Dee Dee maintained that Gypsy-Rose had health problems that were a result of said chromosomal defect, and she began to invent even more nonexistent ailments for her only child over the next eight years of her life.

As per father Rod, by the time Gypsy-Rose had reached eight, Dee Dee had variously claimed she lived with leukemia, was seriously paralyzed and had muscular dystrophy. Gypsy-Rose was even being fed via a tube.

Motorbike accident and wheelchair ruse

At first, Dee Dee made Gypsy-Rose use a walker to get around, forcing her diagnosis of a nonexistent muscular affliction on her child. But things would get even worse for Gypsy-Rose: she was placed in a wheelchair.

Yes, when Gypsy-Rose had been traveling by motorbike with her grandfather, she was involved in a minor accident that caused a fairly superficial knee injury. But Dee Dee ended up convincing her that she needed a wheelchair.

Munchausen syndrome

At this point those of you not-at-all familiar with this story might well be thinking, “What the heck?” How could a mother treat her own child in such a monstrous way? And just as pertinently, what would drive her to do it?

Well, it appears that Dee Dee had a complex mental health disorder that goes by a few different names: factitious disorder imposed on another (FDIA) or fabricated or induced illness by carers (FII). These names have largely replaced the first identification of the disorder, which was Munchausen syndrome by proxy (MSbP).

About the disorder

This disorder involves a caregiver — often a parent — manufacturing the appearance of serious health issues in the person in their care. As hinted at, this most often turns out to be their own child, but there are other historical examples.

In order to create the illusion of illness, the FDIA carers will often alter or manipulate test samples, or even worse, deliberately injure their own child. Of course, there is a significant risk that the victim might sustain permanent injury, develop emotional problems, or even die from the mistreatment. They might even take on a type of Munchausen themselves later in life, in which they make themselves ill or falsely report or exaggerate their own symptoms.

Motivation for abusers

How the disorder manifests itself is not yet known to scientists. There is no absolute consensus on it, anyhow. It might have been caused by issues in the abuser’s own childhood, for instance, perhaps mistreatment or violence towards them. Often those exhibiting FDIA behaviors have medical experience, as Dee Dee did.

The motivation for FDIA abusers more often than not appears to be to seek sympathy and/or attention, as well as control over another person. Often they will receive a lot of compassion from neighbors and others and material or physical help. This can include money, food, or help with chores.

Dee Dee’s family

In the case of Dee Dee, there was certainly a craving of sympathy and attention through her horrific mistreatment of her daughter Gypsy-Rose. As we will see, she received this in abundance. What’s more, after her death, alarming information came to light from her own family.

Yes, Dee Dee’s next of kin, the Pitres — including her father Claude — revealed some startling things about the by then-slain mom-of-one: information likely to send shivers down the spine of anyone learning it. Here’s what they said on the 2017 HBO documentary on the case, Mommy’s Dead and Dearest.

Weedkiller plot?

To begin with, the Pitres revealed that Dee Dee had used to steal money from her own family, likely as payback when she felt things “didn't go her way.” Not great behavior, but hardly frightening. But then they got on to more concerning traits.

Dee Dee’s stepmom Laura revealed she had been bedridden for nine months, after her food had been laced with weedkiller; the most likely culprit had apparently been Dee Dee. Seemingly, her step-daughter had tried to kill her.

Starving her own mother?

Dee Dee may have failed to murder her step-mother, but it has also been suggested by the Pitres that she was chiefly responsible for the death of her own mother Emma. Yes, the family alleged that Dee Dee had done this by intentionally starving her of food.

Arguably most telling was the fact that neither her father Claude nor step-mother Laura seemed remotely upset by Dee Dee’s eventual grim fate: both of them suggested that Dee Dee had deserved what she subsequently got. The Pitres had no intention of paying for a funeral mass for her, and when asked about keeping her ashes, they said they could be flushed “down the toilet.”

Hurricane Katrina hits Louisiana home

All of this information perhaps helps to hint at why Gypsy-Rose has elicited a significant amount of sympathy from the public, despite having been heavily involved in a plot to kill her own mother. But anyway, let’s return to the timeline of events in the FDIA abuse of Gypsy-Rose.

In August 2005 a terrible event would befall mother and daughter, one that for once certainly hadn’t been manufactured by Dee Dee. Their home in Slidell, Louisiana, was reduced to rubble by Hurricane Katrina. The infamous storm forced them to move into a rescue shelter for some time.

Relocating to Missouri

Katrina and its aftermath eventually forced Dee Dee and Gypsy-Rose to move away from Louisiana to the safer area of Missouri, in 2008. Fortunately for Dee Dee, they would get some help in securing a new home.

Yes, Habitat for Humanity stepped in to help the poor mother and seemingly seriously ill daughter. The non-profit organization — which helps families build and improve affordable homes — constructed a small, wheelchair-friendly abode for them in the town of Springfield.

Upping the ante

The terrible event of their Louisiana home being destroyed actually enabled Dee Dee to up the ante with her FDIA abuse of her own daughter. After Katrina, she duly destroyed all of Gypsy-Rose’s medical records and her birth certificate, claiming that the hurricane had basically blown them away.

From this point on, she began to lie about her daughter's actual age and medical history, making out that she was quite a bit younger than she really was. Then, the attention that she so insatiably craved really began to flood in.

Attention and gifts

Yes, after the horror of Hurricane Katrina destroying their home and their subsequent move to Springfield, Dee Dee and Gypsy-Rose became local celebrities. The media had discovered the story of the poor and seemingly devoted mother taking care of her seriously ill daughter and shared it widely.

As a result, the local community around the Blanchards really rallied round. Dee Dee and Gypsy-Rose began to receive financial help from sympathetic locals and people from further afield. They were given gifts, tickets to concerts — including Miranda Lambert — and opportunities to meet-and-greet celebrities. Dee Dee and Gypsy-Rose even bagged a trip to Disney World via the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

Seeing Dr. Flasterstein

Between 2007 and 2009 Gypsy-Rose was examined by a physician named Dr. Bernardo Flasterstein. Dee Dee had gone to him claiming that her daughter had been suffering from both muscular dystrophy and cerebral palsy.

Yet years after seeing Gypsy-Rose and following the headline-grabbing matricide, Dr. Flasterstein spoke to ABC News about his experiences. Of the muscular dystrophy and cerebral palsy Gypsy-Rose had allegedly exhibited, he said, “There was nothing there to support either. That kind of made me very suspicious.”

Suspicions raised

After telling Dee Dee that her diagnoses were misplaced, Dr. Flasterstein quickly saw a different side to the allegedly doting mother. He told ABC News, “The mother was not happy with that. She left the office in a storm and told my nurses that I don’t know what I’m talking about, and that she’s not coming back.”

Unsurprisingly, this led to the medic having severe doubts about Dee Dee’s character. In actual fact, he wrote to Gypsy’s primary care physician, telling them that he had his own diagnosis for her. The doctor wrote, “I believe that the mother suffers from Munchausen by proxy.”

Police report filed by another doctor

Sadly, Dr. Flasterstein wasn’t sure that he had enough outright proof about his conviction that Dee Dee had FDIA to feel confident about alerting Child Protective Services. All the same, as it turned out, there was an attempt to reach them in 2009.

Yes, ABC News later got their hands on a police report from that year. In it, a different doctor had contacted the authorities. This unnamed medic had warned them that he “could not find any symptoms that support what Dee Dee alleges to be wrong with her daughter.”

Attempted escape

Clearly, Gypsy-Rose was starting to think along the same lines as that anonymous doctor, which was that very little — or nothing — was wrong with her. In fact, in February 2011, she would make an attempt to escape her mother and their home.

Unfortunately, Gypsy-Rose was caught in the act of trying to leave, and Dee Dee punished her severely for it. Gypsy Rose told ABC News in 2018 of that retribution, “She physically chained me to the bed and put bells on the doors and told… anybody that I probably would’ve trusted that I was going through a phase and to tell her if I was doing anything behind her back.”

Online dating

Still, Dee Dee’s attempts to completely control all aspects of Gypsy-Rose’s life were ultimately doomed to fail. Most significantly, she was unable to stop all of her daughter’s online activity, and this oversight would ultimately set in motion the events leading to her grim fate.

That’s because, behind her mom’s back, Gypsy-Rose was able to create an online dating profile on a Christian dating app. It was on there that she connected with a young man named Nicholas Godejohn. The pair hit it off, and an online romance began and continued over several years.

Aleah Woodmansee

WFLA News later reported that Gypsy-Rose and Godejohn’s video and typed conversations on the Christian dating app had swung from “fairy-tale declarations of love to X-rated messages.” But most significantly, their burgeoning fondness for each other would ultimately lead to a plot to end Gypsy-Rose’s captive misery for good.

In October 2014 Gypsy-Rose befriended her neighbor, Aleah Woodmansee, and used a secret Facebook account to message her. The by-now young woman began to confide in her new friend, both about her relationship with Godejohn and other things, like kissing boys. She clearly longed to be free.

Plan to meet Godejohn

Yet Dee Dee would find out about her daughter’s conversations and her friendship with Woodmansee and try to destroy it. She even undertook the extreme measure of smashing Gypsy’s phone and computer in order to stop them from conversing on the internet.

But Gypsy-Rose was able to keep up a relationship with Woodmansee and also Gudejohn. In fact, a few months later, the seemingly loved-up pair would come up with a plan in March 2015 to physically meet for the first time. The location chosen was a movie theater in Gypsy-Rose’s new hometown of Springfield.

Cinderella and Prince Charming

Gypsy-Rose and Godejohn hoped that if the latter was able to meet her and her mom, Dee Dee might give the seal of approval to their relationship. Yet they would soon come to realize that their optimism had been misplaced.

All the same, that particular plan was put into motion, and the pair organized a meeting at a viewing of the new Disney Cinderella movie. For this date, Gypsy-Rose would dress as Cinderella and Godejohn as Prince Charming; they’d planned to appear to casually bump into each other, and then he could be introduced to her mom.

Ordered to stay away

The cinema meeting went ahead as planned. The pair had an awkward — and by Gypsy-Rose’s account — aborted sexual encounter. But as you might have expected, Dee Dee had not been remotely keen on Godejohn dating her daughter, or even seeing her.

Gypsy-Rose later told ABC News about her mother’s reaction to her love interest. She said, “She got jealous, because I was spending a little too much attention on him, and she had ordered me to stay away from him. And needless to say, that was a very long argument that lasted a couple weeks.”

Devising the murder plot

But this proved to be a turning-point for Gypsy-Rose, and effectively the final straw in her relationship with her controlling mother. Gypsy-Rose decided that she needed to escape from Dee Dee for good, and the only effective way to do that was to kill her.

As a result, Gypsy-Rose and Godejohn began devising plans to murder Dee Dee. They managed to keep in contact via the internet despite Dee Dee’s watchful eye. Speaking to ABC News years later, Gypsy-Rose claimed, “It was not because I hated her. It was because I wanted to escape her.”

Arriving by bus

To begin with, Gypsy-Rose sent some stolen cash to Godejohn in the mail, so that he could get the bus to Springfield. Then, on June 9, 2015, he made the journey on the public transport to the town, and checked himself into a nearby motel.

Godejohn then waited for a message from Gypsy-Rose about when to come to the Blanchard house. At the time he arrived, she was at the E.R. having a feeding tube replaced that was obviously not needed anyway. After her mother had gone to bed and was visibly asleep, Gypsy-Rose messaged Godejohn: it was all systems go.

Dee Dee’s murder

Shortly after receiving the message Godejohn arrived at the Blanchard residence. Gypsy-Rose let him in and duly handed him duct tape, gloves, and a knife. She then locked herself in the bathroom and covered her hands over her ears, in the hope of blocking out her mother’s screams.

As her later testimony revealed, Gypsy-Rose didn’t think her boyfriend would be able to do it. But Godejohn went into the bedroom and proceeded to stab Dee Dee 17 times. The two of them then had a sexual encounter in the house — which Gypsy-Rose maintains was non-consensual — before taking $4,000 dollars in cash and fleeing to the motel in which he was staying.

Godejohn’s guilt

By this point, the enormity of what he had done seemed to dawn on Godejohn. That is, if his later ABC News interview from jail was anything to go by. He claimed Gypsy-Rose had tried to calm him down, after he’d started crying.

Godejohn said, “I felt horrible about it. When me and her were in the hotel room... she kept on telling me, ‘Stop crying, stop crying. There’s no reason… to cry. It was my idea, it wasn’t yours.’” He added, “I prayed once I got here. I tried to get her mother’s soul to forgive me.

Alarming Facebook status

Gypsy-Rose and Godejohn stayed in the motel a few days while they figured out what to do next. They were recorded on several store cameras at this point, but their crime was unknown. The couple then sent the murder weapon to Godejohn’s Wisconsin home so they weren’t caught with it, and they later rode a bus there.

Soon after they’d arrived, Gypsy-Rose made some expletive-laden Facebook posts under the Dee Gyp Blancharde account. “That… [woman] is dead!” she wrote. This alerted family friends, who called the house and got no response. Then they phoned the police and headed to the Blanchard address.

The cops find Dee Dee

Police arrived at the Blanchards, and after getting a search warrant, found Dee Dee deceased on the bed. Initially, there was concern that Gypsy-Rose had been abducted, given that her three wheelchairs were there, and family friends thought she couldn’t walk and needed a feeding tube and medication.

But then Woodmansee told the cops about her secret boyfriend, Godejohn. The police were then able to get Facebook to trace the I.P. address from which Gypsy-Rose had posted to Dee Dee’s account. It led them to Wisconsin, and Godejohn’s Big Bend home.

Gypsy-Rose and Godejohn arrested

Police raided the house the next day: Gypsy-Rose and Godejohn were inside. Both were arrested and taken into custody, before being charged with murder and felony armed criminal action. The headline news reached Springfield, where there had been relief Gypsy-Rose was alive.

Then, soon after, the truth about Dee Dee and Gypsy-Rose’s life began to come out. The latter wasn’t ill, but she had been controlled and abused physically and mentally by her mother. The sympathy Dee Dee had always craved would rapidly ebb away from the murder victim and towards her daughter.


On July 5, 2016, Gypsy-Rose would plead guilty to murder; she was eventually sentenced to ten years in prison via a plea-bargain deal. Greene County prosecutor Dan Patterson did not seek the death penalty for her or Godejohn. In February 2019 he got a life sentence without the chance of parole following a trial. Patterson noted the horrific circumstances under which Gypsy-Rose had lived and described the whole episode as “one of the most extraordinary and unusual cases we have seen.”

During her testimony at Godejohn’s trial, Gypsy-Rose explained why she hadn’t gone to the cops, and had instead pursued the murder plot. She said, “I didn’t think anyone would believe me. I thought they would eventually tell my mom and make my home life even worse for me. I feared my mom more than I feared anyone else.”

Marrying Ryan Anderson

While in prison, Gypsy-Rose would become pen pals with an unnamed man, and after one-and-a-half years of contact the duo got engaged. That relationship would end, but in 2020 she connected with Ryan Anderson. The two exchanged a series of emails and messages before meeting for the first time in prison in 2021; they eventually tied the knot in June 2022.

Anderson revealed how they had met to People. He said, “It was when Tiger King was really popular. My co-worker at the time was like, ‘I want to write Tiger King.’ I said, ‘I’ll tell you what, if you write him, I’ll write Gypsy-Rose Blanchard.’”

Release from prison

Gypsy-Rose would serve eight years of her ten-year jail sentence before being released on December 28, 2023. That first true taste of freedom — after many years imprisoned by first her mom and later the U.S. penal system — had been long-awaited.

Prior to her release from Chillicothe Correctional Center, Gypsy-Rose had told People, “I’m ready for freedom. I’m ready to expand and I think that goes for every facet of my life.” Then, upon leaving prison, she posted a statement that caused a new online furor.

Going viral

On December 29, 2023, Gypsy-Rose took to Instagram to post a photo of herself. She captioned it “First selfie of freedom!” To say the post went viral would be an understatement. It quickly attracted over 6.4 million likes and over 200,000 comments, mostly from well-wishers.

Two days later, Gypsy-Rose posted again on Instagram. This time it was a video in which she thanks the public for “the massive amount of support” she had received following her release from prison. She also says, “It’s nice to be home. I’m back home in Louisiana, enjoying a beautiful day outside and I’ve got a lot of great things happening really soon.”

Pop-culture icon

That New Year’s Eve post attracted a whole lot more likes and views. Indeed, since her release — and perhaps some time before — Gypsy-Rose has rather strangely become something of a pop-culture icon. Yes, the internet — and particularly Generation Z — seem to have become obsessed with her, and they are apparently desperate to know what she is up to. Some have declared Gypsy-Rose as 2024’s “it-girl.”

Since Gypsy-Rose’s release, various fan pages have been made for her on everything from TikTok to Instagram, and people have created online art featuring the ex-felon. Gypsy-Rose has garnered over 6 million followers, many of whom offer support on her posts and call her “a queen” and other positive things. It will be interesting to see where Gypsy-Rose goes with her life next and whether the outpouring of love she has received so far continues. Since her release she has been offered public speaking engagements to spread awareness on her ordeal, and a documentary is in the pipeline, too.