The murder made national headlines last year because of the bizarre circumstances: A young Missouri woman and her boyfriend were charged with killing her mother—after the mother had forced the daughter to grow up pretending to be sickly and disabled. Now Michelle Dean at BuzzFeed takes a long look at the case involving Gypsy Blancharde and her mom, Dee Dee. It follows the years of lies Dee Dee told doctors, friends, and family about Gypsy: that she had muscular dystrophy, cancer, chromosome defects, a feeble mind, etc., and that she needed a wheelchair because she couldn't walk. Except none of it was true. Dee Dee seems to have had Munchausen by proxy syndrome, meaning she faked her daughter's ailments for sympathy or perhaps the charitable donations that poured in.
Unbeknownst to Dee Dee, Gypsy began reaching out via the Internet late at night and struck up a relationship with Nick Godejohn, who would become her secret boyfriend. Prosecutors say that they conspired to kill Dee Dee and that he wielded the knife. Gypsy, who thought she was 19 at the time but was actually 23, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and is eligible for parole in 2023. Godejohn still faces trial. Gypsy tells Dean that she believed much of what her mom had told her over the years, though she was aware, for example, that she could walk. "This time is good for me," she says of prison. "I've been raised to do what my mother taught me to do. ... She taught me to lie, and I don't wanna lie." Click for the full story, in which Gypsy's father (her parents are divorced) recalls his astonishment at seeing his daughter walk in a courtroom video.