Gypsy Rose Blanchard reflects on prison term for conspiring to kill her mother

Jan 3, 2024, 1:30 PM

Image of Gypsy Rose Blanchard, taking the stand during the trial of her ex-boyfriend Nicholas Godej...

FILE - Gypsy Rose Blanchard takes the stand during the trial of her ex-boyfriend Nicholas Godejohn, Nov. 15, 2018, in Springfield, Mo. (Nathan Papes/The Springfield News-Leader via AP, File)

(Nathan Papes/The Springfield News-Leader via AP, File)

Gypsy Rose Blanchard said she has found a way to forgive her mother — and herself. But it has been a long journey from years of abuse and the darkest parts of her life splashed across tabloids to living in prison.

Blanchard, now 32, was paroled last week from a Missouri women’s prison. Her release came 8 1/2 years after she persuaded her boyfriend at the time to kill her abusive mother, Clauddine “Dee Dee” Blanchard — in a desperate bid to be free of her.

For years, her mother forced her to pretend that she was suffering from leukemia, muscular dystrophy and other serious illnesses.”At first I was really angry with her, very confused. And I’m still confused,”

Blanchard told The Associated Press in a phone interview Tuesday. “But I understand that she had a lot of mental issues. And so I think that’s brought me to a place of forgiveness by just trying to understand where she was coming from. I don’t believe that she was evil.

“I know, that she was very sick,” she continued. This journey, Blanchard explained, also involved forgiving herself.

Dee Dee Blanchard had essentially kept her daughter prisoner and duped doctors into doing unnecessary procedures by telling them that her daughter’s medical records had been lost in Hurricane Katrina.

Gypsy Rose Blanchard’s attorney said the mother had Munchausen syndrome by proxy, a psychological disorder in which parents or caregivers seek sympathy through the exaggerated or made-up illnesses of their children.

The mother-daughter duo received charitable donations, and even a home near Springfield from Habitat for Humanity.

Forced to use a wheelchair and feeding tube, Gypsy felt trapped. She said her mother, who lied about Gypsy’s age to make her seem younger, prevented her from having much of a relationship with her father — or with anyone else.

“I wish I could go back and tell my younger self, ‘Call your dad. Reach out for help with people because they will actually believe you,'” she said. “The main reason why I didn’t is because I really felt like nobody would believe me whenever I said that things just wasn’t right at home.”

When she turned 23, she supplied a knife to her boyfriend, and hid in a bathroom while he repeatedly stabbed her mother, according to the probable cause statement. Then Gypsy and Nicholas Godejohn, who she met on a Christian dating website, made their way by bus to Godejohn’s home in Wisconsin, where they were arrested.

Godejohn is serving a life sentence in Missouri while prosecutors cut Blanchard a deal because of the abuse she had endured.

Incarceration was “nothing but self-discovery,” she said. She made friends, earned her GED and overcame early shortcomings in her education that left her unable to do basic math. While behind bars, she even met and married someone who forged a relationship with Gypsy by writing to her on a whim.

“I was in a little cocoon. And now that I’m free, I’ve emerged as a butterfly,” she said.

Gypsy Rose Blanchard describes her husband Ryan Scott Anderson, a 37-year-old special education teacher from Lake Charles, Louisiana, as a “teddy bear.” In the pre-dawn hours last Thursday, Anderson picked her up at the prison. They had planned to go to the Kansas City Chiefs game on Sunday; she dreamed she might even bump into superstar Taylor Swift as she cheered on her boyfriend, tight end Travis Kelce. Swift’s music had been an inspiration to Blanchard.

But going to the game was deemed too much, too soon. Instead she headed to Louisiana and started to settle into post-prison life. Her father also lives in the state, and she said she is finally “getting to know him as an adult.”

“This is what I’ve been wanting for so long,” she said. “But it’s an adjustment. But it’s a wonderful adjustment.” She added that given her childhood, it also is her “first taste of actual, real, full fledged freedom.”

This week, she is delighting in the little things. She used a Keurig coffee maker for the first time Tuesday. She played video games with her father using a virtual reality headset. She described both experiences as “amazing.”

She isn’t sure yet what will come next and said she wants to give herself a little bit of time before she decides. Eventually, she wants to have children with her husband. But when is a question mark, as is possibilities for employment. The only jobs she has ever had were all in prison, where she took photos and helped out with janitorial tasks.

“Right now, I’m really not sure what my skill is,” she said, “so I’m going to have to kind of discover that over time.”

As she adjusts, there has been a fresh round of media coverage. A Lifetime docuseries “The Prison Confessions of Gypsy Rose Blanchard” and her own eBook, “Released: Conversations on the Eve of Freedom” (Penguin Random House) are coming out this month.

Around the U.S. people learned about the bizarre case from the 2017 HBO documentary “Mommy Dead and Dearest” and the 2019 Hulu miniseries “The Act.”

While there have been many TV specials and interviews over the years, she steered clear of watching them, fearing it would be “emotionally traumatizing,” she said. This docuseries will be the first she has ever watched.

“I am at least putting myself out there to be a cautionary tale,” she said. “because I don’t want anyone to have to go through what I went through.”

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Gypsy Rose Blanchard reflects on prison term for conspiring to kill her mother