Normally I try to focus on the victim of a crime, and not so much the perpetrator. However in this case it is hard to determine who the victim was, yes, Dee Dee did die by the hands of her daughter’s boyfriend, but what Dee Dee did to her daughter is horrible and is also a major factor in this case.
This case is a little bit longer and more involved so please have patience.
Let’s start with Dee Dee – Born in 1967 and christened Clauddine Pitre, she had four siblings and her parents were Claude Pitre Sr, and Emma Lois Gisclair. Her relatives remember her as stealing from her family, primarily when things didn’t go her way. They also suspected that Dee Dee with held food from her mother when she was ill and eventually she died.
Dee Dee got married at age 24, to Rod Blanchard who was 17. They got married for the wrong reasons, and they divorced shortly before their daughter was born. Dee Dee took her newborn daughter home to her family.
Let’s have Gypsy join the story – Rod remained involved in his daughter’s life as much as Dee Dee would allow, eventually she prevented him from seeing his daughter and informed Gypsy that her Dad wanted nothing to do with her, and didn’t even send support checks for her. This was a lie. One of many that Gypsy would be told.
During Gypsy’s younger years, Dee Dee had been arrested for bad checks and other fraudulent activities, she was sent to jail. After her release, Dee Dee was positive that her daughter had sleep apnea, and she began to take Gypsy to the doctor for sleep tests which found no sign of any conditions. But Dee Dee was positive that Gypsy had a wide range of illnesses due to an unknown chromosomal disorder.
Due to a minor accident where Gypsy got an abrasion (read – scrapes) and Dee Dee insisted that she needed to use a wheelchair that the doctors and given her. This replaced the walker that Gypsy had been using due to her mother claiming that she had muscular dystrophy. These were also lies.
Not being able to attend school due to her severe illnesses, Gypsy was homeschooled by her mother. She learned to read on her own through the Harry Potter books. Gypsy and Dee Dee lived in public housing and paid their bills with the child support checks, and with public assistance, as Dee Dee was unable to work due to her daughters medical conditions.
Most of their time together was spent visiting specialists for the the illnesses that Gypsy was reported to have, which now included both hearing and vision problems. A muscle biopsy found no sign of the muscular dystrophy, Dee Dee was successful in getting treatment for the other issues. She claimed that Gypsy had seizures every few months, and was prescribed an anti-seizure medication. Gypsy also went through many surgeries and was taken to the emergency room for minor ailments.
In August of 2005, Hurricane Katrina came through New Orleans and devastated the area, including the apartment where Dee Dee and Gypsy lived. A doctor suggested that they relocate to Missouri and a month later they were airlifted there.
Leaving Louisiana – Dee Dee and Gypsy were living in Aurora, MO, and were renting a home. It was during this time that Gypsy was awarded the 2007 “Child of the Year” from the Oley Foundation which advocates for rights of feeding tube recipients. A year later Habitat for Humanity built them a home in Springfield, MO. The story of Dee Dee, a single mother, and her severely disabled child garnered a lot of community interest.
They received a lot of support from the community and other charitable organizations including: Free flights to see special doctors in Kansas City, trips to Disney World, free tickets, and back stage passes to see Miranda Lambert. The singer had her picture taken with Gypsy.
Dee Dee continued to tell friends and neighbors that Rod, didn’t support Gypsy as he was an alcoholic and an abusive drug addict. Anytime Rod would make plans to come see Gypsy, Dee Dee would change the plans. On Gypsy’s 18th birthday, Rod called her but had been warned by Dee Dee that he couldn’t tell Gypsy that she was 18 years old, she told him that Gypsy thought she was 14. That was to keep Gypsy dependent on her, and to keep the support coming in. It also helped with the ruse that Gypsy was mentally stunted to that of a 7 year old child.
Dee Dee was also abusive, physically, to Gypsy as well. If during an interview, Gypsy spoke too much out of character, or portrayed herself as more intelligent than her mental capacity limited her to, Dee Dee would squeeze her hand tightly. Afterwards she would slap her or beat her hands with a hanger. Mommy Dearest indeed.
You all wonder why the many doctors that Gypsy saw, didn’t report suspicions to authorities. Well a pediatric neurosurgeon did have misgivings. Dee Dee originally claimed that all of the medical records for Gypsy were lost in Katrina. However the doctors and hospitals in New Orleans advised that they didn’t agree with the diagnosis that Dee Dee presented; in short, there was nothing wrong with Gypsy. The doctor, suspected Munchausen by Proxy, and was advised to treat them with “golden gloves” and he didn’t pursue the case any further.
Gypsy knew she wasn’t sick. She followed her mother’s directions because she had no choice. However Gypsy was allowed to attend SciFi/Fantasy Conventions, often in costume. In 2011, Gypsy attempted to escape her mother and went with a man to a hotel. Gypsy was over the age of 18, but her mother found them and produced the birth certificate reflecting her younger age, and threatened to call the police. At home, Dee Dee smashed Gypsy’s computer with a hammer, and said she would do the same to her fingers if she tried to escape again.
It wasn’t long until Gypsy was online again, and was in contact with Nicholas Godejohn who was from Big Bend, WI. Nicholas wasn’t without his own problem, he had a criminal record for indecent exposure, has Asperger’s syndrome, a history of mental illness, and was diagnosed with dissociative identity disorder. In 2014, Gypsy paid for Nicholas to come to Springfield, by bus. They had it planned that he would “bump” into Dee Dee and Gypsy at the movie theater. But when they first met, Gypsy led Nicholas into the bathroom and they two had sexual intercourse. The plan to meet her mother didn’t work out, so the pair continued to talk at night, and plan to murder Dee Dee.
In June of 2015, Nicholas came back to Springfield. After Dee Dee had gone to sleep, Nicholas arrived at the house. Gypsy let him in the house, and it was believed that she gave him duct tape, gloves, and a knife. Gypsy stayed in the bathroom, covered her ears, and Nicholas stabbed Dee Dee 17 times, in her bed. The pair then had sex in Gypsy’s room, and took $4000 and went to a motel outside of Springfield before planning their next moves.
They mailed the knife to Nicholas’s home in Wisconsin, so they weren’t caught with it on them. They then got on a bus and went to Big Bend to stay with Nicholas’ family. At this time, they felt they got away with their crimes.
After arriving in Wisconsin, Gypsy and Nicholas were waiting for any news on the murder. But nothing had been reported. So they posted some messages on Dee Dee’s Facebook account, that neighbors tried to get in contact with Dee Dee. Eventually the police were called, and it was learned that Dee Dee was dead, and they all feared the worst as Gypsy was missing, and they believed she was weak, helpless, and in danger without her wheelchair, medications, or other necessary equipment.
But investigators searched and found the IP address for the messages that were posted Dee Dee’s Facebook. It was from Wisconsin. The next day police were in Waukesha County. The murderers were extradited to Missouri, and eventually put on trial.
Nicholas Godejohn was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole, for first degree murder. Gypsy was sentenced to 10 years in prison for second degree murder. Hulu has an adaptation of this case, called The Act, and it is worth watching.
Now I’m not saying that what Gypsy and Nicholas did was right, there were certainly other ways to escape from her mother. But what Dee Dee did to her daughter, was beyond abuse. It was cruel.
No mother, should put her child through what Gypsy suffered including the claims of having; leukemia, muscular dystrophy, mental retardation, vision problems, hearing problems, asthma, chronic ear infections which required tubes put in her ears, allergies, a feeding tube, surgery to remove her salivary glands, her head routinely shaved, her teeth pulled, sleep apnea, and epilepsy. As shown above Dee Dee had a medicine closet due to all the medications that she had obtained for Gypsy.
Speak up, make good choices, stay safe