Invalid Illness

Invalid Illness

Kaci Alvarez, Writer

Pretending to be sick for a day to get out of school is a student’s paradise; however, for Gypsy Blanchard, a 24-year-old woman from Springfield, Missouri, it was a traumatic reality. Gypsy was forced into believing she was mentally handicapped and severely ill by her late mother, Clauddinnea “Dee Dee” Blancharde, from the time she was born.

Gypsy was born a healthy child, but her mother insisted she was sick. Among other claims, Dee Dee told doctors that her daughter had muscular dystrophy and forced her to take seizure medication which made all of Gypsy’s teeth fall out. She even shaved her daughter’s head to make it appear as if she had leukemia. Dee Dee convinced Gypsy that she was much younger than she really was so she would act more handicapped.

She never let Gypsy out of her sight, even when the girl tried to run away numerous times. Gypsy’s father was a deadbeat dad who never paid child support or helped with Gypsy’s medical expenses according to Dee Dee. In reality, he always paid his child support of $1,200, and he bought occasional gifts Dee Dee wanted, including items such as television sets and a Nintendo Wii.

It all started back in the late 1990s when Dee Dee pleaded guilty to bad check charges with the last name of Blanchard. The two then moved into a Habitat for Humanity house after claiming that their house was destroyed in Hurricane Katrina, which has yet to be proven. Over the years, Gypsy’s illnesses varied from spina bifida to muscular dystrophy to leukemia. She also supposedly had vision and hearing problems as well as brain damage from the seizures. The pair raised thousands of dollars in donations for Gypsy’s surgeries, including a procedure to put in a feeding tube, which she actually didn’t need. Charities like the Make-A-Wish foundation also chipped in with the efforts to make Gypsy’s life as enjoyable as possible.

Gypsy was completely aware of the fact that she was a healthy child. Her mother was forcing her into this facade, and it was beginning to take a toll on Gypsy. She confided in a family friend named Aleah Woodmansee via a secret Facebook account, and Gypsy told her about her developing romantic feelings. When Dee Dee found out, she forced the pair to cut ties, leaving Gypsy almost completely alone. After years of abuse, Gypsy found an escape through an online relationship with a man named Nicolas Godejohn, although this was forbidden by her mother. As the relationship developed, the two talked about murdering Dee Dee, a plan which would later be followed through.

On June 15, 2015, after an explicit Facebook post, police were called to the home of Dee Dee and Gypsy Blancharde, only to find that Dee Dee had been stabbed to death, and Gypsy was missing. Naturally, neighbors who knew the mother-daughter duo were concerned for poor defenseless Gypsy.

The girl was found in Wisconsin with Nicolas, safe and sound. The biggest shock to everyone was that Gypsy was walking perfectly fine on her own, even though Dee Dee insisted she had muscular dystrophy. This is when everyone found out about the frauds and scandals. According to an unsealed search warrant, Gypsy searched online for ways to kill her mother, and then worked with Nicolas to plot a murder. Both were charged with first-degree murder and armed criminal action. Neither Gypsy Blancharde nor Nicolas Godejohn used mental illness as a reason for innocence. Many online speculators have claimed that Gypsy suffered from Munchausen by Proxy, and she was just trying to escape her mother’s never-ending web of lies.

Gypsy was in fact a victim of Munchausen by Proxy, which is a form of child abuse where the primary caretaker exaggerates or fabricates illnesses or symptoms in a child. The cause is usually a need for attention or sympathy from doctors, nurses, and other professionals. Another cause could be the satisfaction of deceiving those that seem higher than the person claiming the symptoms. Of course, it will forever be uncertain why Dee Dee did this to Gypsy and kept it up for so long. Gypsy cannot access her medical records because of blocks set up by Dee Dee, so any real past medical issues are unable to be found.

Next time you have a big exam and pretend to be sick to get a day off, just remember that you are a lot better off than some other people. Don’t take it for granted.