The Gypsy Rose Blanchard Situation: Questions We Need Answered
The Gypsy Rose Blanchard Situation: Questions We Need Answered
When the story first broke that a woman, Gypsy Blanchard, elicited her boyfriend to murder her mother, I admit I thought Gypsy was probably an entitled brat who did not get her way, or was strung out on drugs and could not think clearly enough to realize that family was more important than her addiction. However, as complex details began to emerge, I quickly became enthralled with what should be called the “Gypsy Rose Blanchard situation”. I refer to it as that in this text even while news outlets describe the Gypsy situation as merely “DeeDee Blanchard’s murder.” There is so much more to the situation than simply murder. Acknowledging it as a murder leaves out the years of abuse suffered by Gypsy at the hands of DeeDee, Deedee’s long and checkered past, and Nick Godejohn’s diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder, among other complexities of the case. As I read news stories and watched Mommy Dead and Dearest, I ended up having even more questions. I know I am not alone because quick internet searches show the same types of inquiries popping up. Even now, as the whole saga has been dramatized (and sensationalized, according to Gypsy herself [Harnick, 2019]) in Hulu’s original series The Act, I am left with still more questions. Through a little digging around, I have been able to come up with some sound hypotheses to some of these doubts.
Where is Rod Blanchard from?
Or, this question could be rephrased: why does he sound Irish at times in interviews?
I literally typed “Is Rod Blanchard from Ireland?” into the Google search bar. Nothing came up about this, and in fact nothing came up at all about where he is from. Then, I read a few things that just took it for granted that both Rod and Clauddine Blanchard are both from the bayous in southern Louisiana, which explains a lot. Rod’s accent, though sounding Irish at times, is probably Cajun. Cajuns, or Acadians, were Canadian settlers from Nova Scotia of French origin that moved down to Louisiana in the 1800s. This ethnic group has maintained many French traditions and passed down the French language from generation to generation. They also created and acquired new cultural elements upon moving to the bayous. They speak Cajun, which is a dialect of French, and make food like gumbo, jambalaya, and boudin sausages. When speaking English, their accent is unlike any other southern accent in the United States. They distinctively pronounce words like “this” as “dis”, and may stress words not traditionally stressed in English. Because of this French influence, Cajuns may sound european at times. Many Cajun families only speak Cajun French at home, even though French speaking at home has been declining over the years (Masaman, 2017). Notably, Blanchard is a French last name that means “nearly white”, and Pitre, Deedee’s maiden name, is a French last name derived from the French word for an apothecary’s pestle. Cajuns should not be confused with Creoles, which are a different ethnic group who are mixed race between filipinos, Spanish, African, Cajun, and Native American groups and speak a Creole language more similar to what is found in Haiti than Cajun French.
What else is there to know about DeeDee, other than that she suffered from Munchausen by Proxy?
Clauddine “DeeDee” Pitre was a twenty-three-year-old beauty queen who fell in love with Rod Blanchard (a 17 year old teenager) and became pregnant. They quickly were married but soon divorced. DeeDee’s family thought that DeeDee killed her own mother Emma by starving her, and they also suspect she poisoned her stepmother while she lived with them because the stepmother’s health improved when she moved out (Lundgren, 2019). Some family members suspect her struggle for control over Gypsy would have soon ended up in Gypsy’s death (Duff, 2019). It is also of note that none of her family members were upset by her death due to the amount of manipulation and control she had exhibited toward others. She was a kleptomaniac who learned her shoplifting behavior from her mother, Emma (Tron, 2019). She also passed on this behavior to Gypsy. Emma had been caught for shoplifting multiple times, and DeeDee even went to jail for a stint for writing a bad check and also accumulated misdemeanors and other legal issues. It is possible that mental illness and obsessions ran in the family. It is not clear whether DeeDee did these things merely for money or if she also did it to feel like the perfect mother, or if she truly believed her daughter was ill.
Can We Trust Gypsy?
As I began to investigate this case, my feelings fluctuated between the horror at such an awful thing as planning the killing of your own mother and the pity I felt for Gypsy having lived a life of captivity and abuse. Yet, I found most outlets who reported on her after the facts of her abusive childhood showed her in a sympathetic light. However, we really do not know if she is as innocent as she said. Is Gypsy Rose Blanchard manipulative like her mother? Nick Godejohn (DeeDee’s killer) seems to think so (Douglas, 2018). He maintains that Gypsy used him to murder her mother even though his feelings were real. Could she be manipulating the media by speaking shyly and coyly and eloquently about what a victim the is? No doubt she is a victim of child abuse, but is it ever okay to set up the killing of your mother, no matter how abusive? Surely there could have been any other way out of this situation. I would have much rather seen DeeDee, as horrible as she seemed, locked away for life in a mental institution and receiving the help she needed, and Gypsy and Nick Godejohn free and without having committed murder. Are we being manipulated into thinking that the killing was justified? This leads me to my next question: If she gets out will she steal, manipulate, or otherwise continue cycles of abuse that she was raised in? She knows no different. She already shoplifted and made other poor life choices, such as, I don’t know, finding a random guy online who claimed to be a 500-year-old vampire and getting him to murder her mother rather than calling CPS or writing the police a detailed report. Her sneakiness and skill is also alarming; she secured a murder weapon and even took care to mail it back to Nick’s house in Ohio, as well as acting cool and unfazed when asked about her mother by Nick’s parents. Truly, what if this woman is just as crazy as her mother and grandmother were and turns out to abuse others, or even kill others, like DeeDee is suspected of doing, and for which Gypsy is already serving a 10-year-sentence in jail. Let us not forget, she asked Nick to kill her mother and he did while she hid in the bathroom. Who is to say that when her marriage grows stale she won’t poison her husband? Or who is to say her children will not suddenly become ill or have unexplainable medical diagnoses? Or who is to say we will not see Gypsy serve future jail sentences for future committed crimes? Should this woman really be released early? I spoke of her future marriage--another questionable life choice is that of falling in love with her pen pal in jail and becoming engaged to him (Crabtree, 2019). Her choices do not seem reasonable, and she always excuses her behavior, just like DeeDee did. DeeDee was a master of excuses and explanations--so much so that she tricked doctors for decades about Gypsy’s illnesses. My assertion is that both in nature (hereditary kleptomaniacal tendencies) and nurture (being raised with deception and abuse) Gypsy may continue to exhibit dangerous and deceptive techniques that could culminate in future abuse or even murders. I hope this is not the case, but I still wonder if we should trust her or not.
References: In order of use in article
Harnick, C. (2019). She Plays Her on TV, But Is Joey King Ready to Meet Gypsy Rose Blanchard? Retrieved from: https://www.eonline.com/news/1033848/she-plays-her-on-tv-but-is-joey-king-ready-to-meet-gypsy-rose-blanchard
Masaman. Youtube video uploaded May 28, 2017. Louisiana Creole and Cajuns: What's the Difference? Race, Ethnicity, History and Genetics. Retrieved from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=suiDNTDt8AI
Last name searches performed on Ancestry.com.
Lundgren, A.(2019). The True Story of Gypsy Rose Blanchard’s Mom, Dee Dee Blanchard. Retrieved from: https://www.cosmopolitan.com/entertainment/tv/a27099800/gypsy-rose-blanchard-mom-dee-dee-blanchard/
Tron, G. (2019). What Was Gypsy Rose Blanchard’s Grandmother Like? Maybe Not Too Different From Dee Dee. Retrieved from:
Duff, C. (2019). Gypsy Rose Blanchard’s Family Thinks Her Mom Would’ve Killed Her If She Lived: ‘It Wouldn’t Have Ended Well’. Retrieved from: https://www.intouchweekly.com/posts/gypsy-rose-blanchards-family-thinks-her-mom-wouldve-killed-her/
Douglas, B. (2018). Charged with Murder, Godejohn Gives His Side of the Story.
Crabtree, E. (2019). Gypsy Rose Blanchard Is Engaged Weeks After ‘The Act’ Premiere: Report. Retrieved from: https://www.usmagazine.com/celebrity-news/news/gypsy-rose-blanchard-is-engaged-after-the-act-premiere-report/
Diaz, J., Smith, J. and Valiente, A. (2018). How a young woman forced to use a wheelchair, treated for several illnesses, ended up in prison for her mother's murder. Screenshot taken from video. Retrieved from:https://abcnews.go.com/US/young-wheelchair-bound-woman-treated-illnesses-ended-prison/story?id=52138979
© 2019 Audrey Lancho