Hulu’s new true crime drama series The Act premieres March 20. The first season of the anthology show tells the real-life story of the murder of Dee Dee Blanchard (played by Patricia Arquette), who was killed by her daughter Gypsy Rose (Joey King) and Gypsy’s boyfriend Nicholas Godejohn (Calum Worthy) in 2015.
Gypsy’s mother suffered from Munchausen syndrome by proxy. For years, she had pretended that her only child was seriously ill and had the mental abilities of a 7-year-old. But as Gypsy got older, she realized she was not actually sick. She began to rebel, and eventually she and Godejohn, who she met online, killed Dee Dee at the home mother and daughter shared in Springfield, Missouri.
The murder of Dee Dee Blanchard
When Dee Dee’s body was discovered on June 14, 2015, Gypsy Rose was nowhere to be found. At first, friends and police thought that something terrible had happened to her. After all, they believed she was in her late teens, very sick, and unable to walk. But by the next day, authorities had found Gypsy safe in Wisconsin with Godejohn.
That’s when things got really weird. It turned out that Gypsy was 23 years old, not 19. And she didn’t actually have cancer, epilepsy, or any of the other ailments Dee Dee had told people her daughter suffered from. Nor was she confined to a wheelchair – she was perfectly capable of walking.
Gradually, a strange story emerged, where Gypsy played the role of both the person who orchestrated her mother’s murder and the victim of her mother’s consistent and years-long abuse.
What happened to Gypsy Rose?
Gypsy was the one who planned her mother’s murder, but it was actually Godejohn who did the deed, stabbing Dee Dee to death while Gypsy hid in a bathroom. In a deal, she pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and was sentenced to 10 years for her role in the crime. Prosecutors say the abuse Gypsy endured for years caused them to seek a relatively short sentence. She could have been tried for first-degree murder, a charge that carried the possibility of life in prison.
“When you look at this case, it’s a murder. And it’s a first-degree murder,” Greene County Prosecutor Dan Patterson told the Springfield News-Leader after Gypsy’s guilty plea in 2016. “But it’s also one of the most extraordinary and unusual cases we have seen.”
“It’s the best outcome for her, it’s the best outcome for the state of Missouri,” Gypsy’s attorney Mike Stanfield said at the time. “It’s the right thing to do for everybody.”
Gypsy is currently serving her sentence at the Chillicothe Correctional Center in Chillicothe, Missouri. She will be eligible for parole in 2024, when she is 32.
In interviews, Gypsy has said she does not mind being in prison. “I feel like I’m freer in prison than living with my mom,” she told Good Morning America in 2018. “I guess now I’m allowed to just live like a normal woman.”
What happened to Nicholas Godejohn?
Godejohn received a stiffer sentence than his ex-girlfriend for his role in Dee Dee’s killling. In November 2018, a jury found the 29-year-old guilty of first-degree murder. In February 2019, he was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
In an interview with 20/20 before his trial, Godejohn said Gypsy was the “mastermind” behind the murder and that he only killed Dee Dee to prove his love for her.
“I loved Gypsy to the point where I would … do anything for her. I’ve proven that with what I did,” Godejohn said.
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