The murder of American woman Dee Dee Blanchard in 2015, is one of the most famous cases of Munchausen syndrome by proxy ever, and a new documentary Gypsy’s Revenge revisits the murder, the familial abuse and all the people involved, three years after the crime took place.
Munchausen syndrome by proxy is a mental illness where a caretaker (usually a mother) of a child either falsifies symptoms or causes real illness to make it appear as if the child is sick. It is an extremely rare form of child abuse and proving the case in court is even rarer, such is the case with Dee Dee and her alleged victim, daughter Gypsy Blanchard.
Gypsy’s young life was spent in and out of hospitals, confined to sick beds and deceiving those around her.
Dee Dee claimed that Gypsy had leukaemia, epilepsy, muscular dystrophy and that she couldn’t walk, confining the young able-bodied girl to a wheelchair whenever she had to leave the house, as well as forcing her to be fed through an unnecessary feeding tube, telling people she had the mental capacity of a seven-year-old and forcing her to take medications for illnesses Gypsy wasn’t suffering from.
As Gypsy got older, the healthy girl began to push back against her mother and grew increasingly more independent, going on Facebook without Dee Dee’s permission and meeting people from the outside world through chatrooms. It was on the social networking site in 2012 where she met Nicholas Godejohn, the man who would stab Gypsy’s mother to death at her request.
The story of Gypsy Blanchard has been investigated in HBO documentary Mommy Dead and Dearest, and now in Gypsy's Revenge, and by and large people’s responses have been the same: her sentence may technically fit the crime, but is it right?
Gypsy confessed to police to having Godejohn stab her mother just days after the murder, and she is currently serving 10 years in prison as a healthy young woman entirely free from any physical illnesses.
The prosecution along with the defence, both thought Gypsy was a victim of Munchausen syndrome by proxy, and followers of the case and the latest documentary might question the fairness of the punishment as a victim of child abuse.
While there is never an excuse for murder, this shocking true crime story shines a light on the complex cases of child abuse, and Munchausen syndrome by proxy.