Since watching the HBO documentary, Mommy Dead and Dearest, my co-editor Anna and I have been deeply affected by its traumatic story of child abuse and murder. As I’m sure many of you now know, the documentary delves into the lives of mother-daughter pair, Dee Dee and Gypsy Rose Blancharde. Dee Dee, who had the abusive mental illness Munchausen syndrome by proxy, convinced her daughter Gypsy — as well as doctors, family members, and their community — that Gypsy was severely ill, cognitively disabled, and unable to walk. This resulted in Gypsy undergoing numerous unnecessary, invasive surgeries (including salivary gland removal and feeding tube insertion) and taking aggressive drugs for nearly two decades.
The story ends when Gypsy kills her mother, with the help of her then-boyfriend, so she can escape the abuse. Originally facing life in prison, Gypsy’s sentence was reduced to 10 years once the terrifying extent of her mother’s abuse was revealed. She will be up for parole in eight-and-a-half years.
Anna and I have written several articles about Mommy Dead and Dearest since its May premiere, which eventually caught the eye of Erin Lee Carr, the documentary’s brilliant director.
Soon after, Kristy Blanchard, Gypsy’s candid and caring stepmom, reached out to us as well.
Erin and Kristy then spoke with us over the phone, sharing honest — and sometimes very upsetting — information about Gypsy and Dee Dee that you can’t find in the documentary. Here are the most shocking revelations from our conversation.
1. Kristy discovered disturbing things in Dee Dee’s home after the murder.
“We found samples of Gypsy’s DNA in the freezer,” stated Kristy. “Why? I don’t know. I asked Gypsy about it, and she’s like, ‘Mom, I don’t know why she had that.'”
2. Dee Dee and Kristy were co-workers at one point.
“When Rod met me, Dee Dee was going to nursing school,” said Kristy. “Dee Dee and I worked together at our hospital here. I was the receptionist, and she was a nurse’s aid…You pick up things in your work environment. So it’s not that she didn’t have a medical background — she did.”
3. Dee Dee stole prescription pads from the hospital where she brought Gypsy.
“When we searched her house, I found prescription pads [Dee Dee] stole from the hospital, under her bed…And we could tell it had been used,” Kristy explained. “How the hell…How can you steal that? [Doctors] always have it on them. One of them put it down, and she grabbed it? I don’t know. So a lot of that medication that you see in the closet, probably a lot of that Dee Dee probably prescribed…gave out the prescription herself.”
4. Kristy wondered if Dee Dee would have murdered Gypsy, based on the fact that Dee Dee had said she hoped they’d die at the same time.
“Dee Dee used to tell me all the time if she goes, she hopes Gypsy goes at the same time because they couldn’t live without each other,” Kristy revealed. “So now thinking back to that, it’s like: Would she have really killed her daughter, and then killed herself? Or would she have killed Gypsy and said, ‘Don’t do the autopsy — it’s because of all her illnesses?'”
5. Kristy is upset with the doctor who didn’t report Munchausen syndrome by proxy, despite suspecting it.
“It kind of made me angry that [Dr. Bernardo Flasterstein] didn’t want to report it. Like he said, Gypsy wasn’t being abused. She was being ‘over-treated.’ To me, it’s the same thing. You’re over-treating a child,” Kristy disclosed.
6. Kristy and Erin credit Gypsy’s surprising eloquence to her love of Harry Potter and reading.
“I think that [Gypsy] taught herself a lot of things,” Erin told us. “She loved Harry Potter…I think she had that curiosity because of what had happened to her. She was basically held hostage for a number of years. She had curiosity in the world…her brain is moving and thinking at this sort of rapid pace.”
7. Kristy recalled what it was like to see Gypsy for the first time after the murder.
“Our first time seeing her, she was scared and like this little puppy that was in the rain shivering cold,” Kristy explained.
8. Kristy has become an incredibly important role model in Gypsy’s life.
“[Kristy is] the first woman who would listen to [Gypsy]. Kristy is the first person who’s not like, ‘All right, shut up,'” Erin stated.
9. Gypsy has dreams of raising a family.
“[Gypsy] had told me that one day…when she gets out, that she wants to be able to grow a family,” Kristy revealed. “And she had mentioned that to one of her cellmates, and her cellmate said, ‘Well, aren’t you too scared to raise your child like your mom did?’ And [Gypsy] said, ‘What I have learned is how to not raise my child, how my mom raised me. I am learning how to raise my child by my mom [Kristy] I have now. With compassion, and with love, and being honest, and being there for your child for all the right reasons.'”
10. Dee Dee made sure that people couldn’t physically see into their home, likely helping her protect her lies.
“[Dee Dee and Gypsy’s] windows were all covered up by this contact paper, so that it looked like stained glass,” Kristy explained. “So you couldn’t see in the house at all.”
11. While Dee Dee was sleeping, Gypsy would walk around in the house.
During one of their prison visits, Kristy asked Gypsy, “Did your mom let you walk in the house?” According to Kristy, Gypsy responded, “No. Not really.” Kristy added, “But when Dee Dee was sleeping, she would walk in the house.”
12. Gypsy was too afraid to ever walk in public.
When asked why she never walked in public, even though she knew she could, Gypsy told Kristy, “There are some things mom said that people wouldn’t forgive me for, or forgive us for.” According to Kristy, “That was one of them. So she just did what her mom told her to do, because she thought if she got up and walked, that people would hate her. People would never want to speak to her again.”
Erin added, “They’d get into arguments [where Dee Dee said], ‘If you tell anybody, then I’m gonna go to jail. And through this further manipulation, Gypsy didn’t know about the rules of the outside world. Of course, she watched television and she was able to understand a basic sense, but in her mind, she thought if she told anyone, her mom would go to jail, and then she’d be alone…” Erin continues, “There was no sense of reality when it came to these discussions, because her mom fed her these lies from such an impressionable age…[Gypsy] didn’t know what the truth was.”
13. According to Kristy, it was a struggle to ever get Gypsy alone on the phone.
“We’ve asked her many times, like we would call [Gypsy] on her birthday, or just to check in on her, and [Dee Dee] was never, ‘Oh, hold on. Let me get her.’ It was, ‘Oh, she’s taking a nap, or she’s not feeling good. I’ll have her call you later,'” Kristy disclosed. “So there was never one phone call [when Gypsy] was by herself. And any normal kid, you’re gonna call and say, ‘Okay, your birthday is coming up, or Christmas. What do you want for Christmas, or your birthday?’ They’re gonna shoot out ten things off the back of their hand. [Gypsy] would just tell us, ‘Nothing but love.’”
14. Dee Dee took credit for things Kristy and Rod did for Gypsy.
Kristy continued, “Two days later, Dee Dee would call us and say, ‘[Gypsy] wants a Nintendo DS TV for her room.’ So Rod would order it online and ship it to her. And not once did [Dee Dee] say, ‘Oh, look what your dad sent.” It was, ‘Oh, look what mom got.'”
15. Dee Dee wanted to be seen in a Mother Theresa-type light.
Erin revealed, “Dee Dee wanted to be seen as this like Mother Theresa-type giving character.”
16. Kristy is in awe of the fact that Gypsy survived growing up with her abusive mother.
“She didn’t die at a young age,” Kristy said, when speaking about Gypsy. “She beat the odds. You know, most kids with a parent such as this don’t live to be a teenager. [The parents will] kill them.”
17. Kristy and Gypsy have conversations about Munchausen syndrome by proxy.
“Dee Dee made the top five of the worst cases of Munchausen by proxy. I read that whole article to Gypsy. She’ll call me, I’ll put her on speaker, I’m like ‘Oh let me read this to you.’ And she doesn’t get upset or anything. She’s like, ‘Oh, wow!’ And I’m like, ‘Do you understand, Gypsy, how lucky you are … ‘ I mean everybody failed her, and she thought we didn’t want anything to do with her. So she did what she had to do. I don’t condone it. I do not condone it, but I understand why.”