Behind the Murder: Gypsy Rose Blanchard’s Backstory


Maayan Matsliah, Staff Writer

Since its initial rise to fame, the Blanchard family has been known as one of the most unfortunate yet optimistic families. The family of two was made up of a single, unemployed mother and a daughter with many severe health conditions. Living in Springfield, Missouri, the mother-daughter duo quickly gained attention from the public for maintaining such their buoyant attitude regardless of all their struggles. However, this optimistic public view of the family quickly came crashing down. On June 14th, 2015, Gypsy Rose Blanchard pleaded guilty to second-degree murder for planning and aiding the murder of her own mother, Claudine Blanchard. Soon after, Gypsy Rose, 24, was sentenced to 10 years in jail. Speculations about the case have led to debates across the media on whether or not the court ruling was fair.

Claudine (Dee Dee) Pitre was born on May 3rd, 1967, in Chackbay, Louisiana. Having been a beauty pageant contestant and queen since her early childhood, she appeared to be set up to lead a happy, successful life. Upon outgrowing the industry, Claudine decided to pursue a job in the medical field and worked as a nurse’s aid for a short period of time. She ended up marrying a man by the name of Rod Blanchard, and gave birth to their baby girl, Gypsy Rose Blanchard. Unfortunately, soon after becoming parents, the couple split up.

Born on July 27th, 1991, Gypsy Rose Blanchard was allegedly diagnosed with sleep apnea, a serious condition that causes breathing problems during one’s slumber. Her mother claimed that Gypsy was experiencing problems while sleeping, and suggested that Gypsy had many more serious conditions and diseases, including epilepsy, leukemia, paralyzed muscular dystrophy, and sudden outbreaks of seizures. By the time Gypsy was was around eight years old, “she was in a wheelchair… and needed a feeding tube,” said Rod Blanchard, Gypsy’s father, on ABC News. As far as he could tell, however, there had been “nothing wrong with her, she was perfect” since the day she was born.

What Rod did not know at this point was that Claudine was, in fact, lying about their daughter’s health: Gypsy did not have any of the illnesses that her mother claimed she had. “Experts believe Dee Dee’s behavior stemmed from the mental disorder Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy; because Dee Dee wanted to be a caretaker, she feigned and induced illness in her daughter,” said TMJ4 News. This information, however, would not be learned until after the murder of Dee Dee Blanchard, when court proceedings revealed the truth about the Blanchards’ twisted past.

Eventually, Rod caught on that there was something off about how Claudine treated Gypsy. For instance, when Gypsy stood up from her wheelchair with no assistance during a family gathering, all those who witnessed the scene were astounded. Claudine had previously convinced them that Gypsy was not capable of getting out of her wheelchair, let alone stand up on her own, causing their family members to speculate about what was truly going on. When Dee Dee refused to answer their interrogations, they became even more concerned for Gypsy’s wellbeing. 

Claudine, aware that she wouldn’t be able to keep the truth from her family for much longer, realized that she and Gypsy must relocate. Hurricane Katrina provided her with the perfect excuse to escape the grasp of her family without people questioning her motives behind the sudden move. After claiming that the recent hurricane had left her and Gypsy homeless, the Blanchards were rescued and taken in by a special needs shelter in Springfield, Missouri. Claudine also attributed Hurricane Katrina to destroying Gypsy’s medical forms, which had never existed in the first place. 

Soon after moving to Springfield, the Blanchards, known for remaining optimistic despite having lived a miserable life,  found themselves quickly rising to fame. “They were the shining stars in this town of people who can outlast adversity and get through everything,” crime writer M.J. Pack said on ABC News. “[Gypsy Rose] was like one of the happiest people I had ever met, and yet she was the most sick that I had ever met at the same time,” said an interviewee on ABC News. Eventually, “Gypsy Rose Blanchard” had become a household name in the town. As her story became more well-known, the Make-A-Wish Foundation took notice of the family and assisted Gypsy in living out her dreams, regardless of the conditions restraining her from doing so. “Between hospital stays, Gypsy frequently jet sets across the country, [attends] ball games, galas, [and] Disney World,” ABC News reported. “Make-A-Wish would take her down to Orlando, all expenses paid.” 

At this point, “the mother-daughter duo [became] local celebrities; the subjects of countless local news profiles and articles,” ABC News said. Gypsy got to meet Lord of the Rings cast members Elijah Wood and Sean Astin, as well as many other celebrities. One figure who made a tremendous impact in the Blanchards’ life was Miranda Lambert. Allegedly, the star donated $3,500 to the family in order to help them with their medical bills. 

Eventually, it came time for the Blanchards to move out of the special needs shelter, and to find a permanent home. Once again, the Make-A-Wish Foundation stepped in and helped the Blanchards to get back on their feet. This time, however, the charity’s donation was much greater than any of its previous provisions––it donated a home to the family. Complete with accommodations, including a wheelchair ramp built especially for Gypsy’s needs, the home really was the “dream come true” for the Blanchards. “It just proves that happy endings are not just in fairy tales, they’re real and true in real life,” said Gypsy Rose on E! News.

Although Gypsy was fond of the benefits that came with her rise to fame, she always had the desire to be a “normal” teenager and to experience life the way every typical adolescent her age does. “In private, Gypsy just wants to be a regular teen, and find love,” said Gypsy’s friend and neighbor, Aleah Woodmansee, on E! News. “She would show interest in different boys… ask me advice on how to approach them [and] how to kiss a boy,” Woodmansee explained to E! News. In an attempt to pursue a love life, Gypsy began joining numerous online dating apps/websites. When her mother found out about this, she feared that it wouldn’t be long before Gypsy would expose the family’s secrets to a stranger she had a crush on. Agitated and enraged, Claudine smashed Gypsy’s phone and prohibited her from talking to boys ever again. 

Claudine’s attempts were ineffective, however, as it wasn’t long before Gypsy secretly joined an online Christian dating site on a laptop that she kept hidden in her room. Through the site, Gypsy met a man named Nicholas Godejohn, who quickly became her boyfriend. As Claudine predicted, Gypsy ended up revealing the deep dark secrets behind her miserable life. She filled Godejohn in on how her mother had been abusing her both mentally and physically, faking her medical conditions and forbidding her from making friends and talking to boys. Enraged by what his girlfriend was telling him, Godejohn was determined to seek justice for Gypsy.

The couple decided that the only way that they could possibly be together was to somehow remove Claudia from Gypsy’s life. It didn’t take long before the couple arranged Claudine’s murder. The murder was hastily and poorly planned, with little to no consideration of how the couple would cover up Claudine’s death. On June 14th, 2015, Godejohn arrived at the Blanchards’ home and stabbed his defenseless victim seven times, all while Gypsy hid in the bathroom, covering her ears, until the murder was completed. 

Gypsy and Godejohn returned to Godejohn’s house in Wisconsin, not bothering to clean up the scene. The couple was rather careless when it came to the aftermath of the murder: it was as if they had wanted to get caught. A couple days after the murder of her mother, Gypsy posted on facebook: “The b***h is dead.” According to, “she later explained she made the posts because she wanted her mother’s body to be discovered.”

It wasn’t long before Gypsy and Godejohn were caught and tried for the murder of Claudine Blanchard. This led to many speculations from the public. People began wondering what caused such a seemingly innocent adolescent, someone who had been known to have good moral values and an undying sense of optimism, to kill the one person who cared for her throughout the entirety of her life. Eventually, after numerous court trials and countless interviews, the public finally caught on that Claudine had been lying about Gypsy’s health conditions all along with the motives of gaining money and attention. 

Although Gypsy Rose Blanchard’s scheming and assistance in murdering Claudine Blanchard is not justifiable whatsoever, the backstory of this mother-daughter duo compels feelings of empathy towards the girl who was so ruthlessly abused throughout the entirety of her life. Now, readers, after hearing the complexity of Gypsy Rose Blanchard’s backstory, I invite you to come up with your own opinion: do you think Gypsy Rose was rightfully sentenced?