Self-defense or premeditated murder? That's one of the major questions asked in HBO's chilling documentary Mommy Dead and Dearest, the story of daughter Gypsy Rose who murdered her mother Dee Dee Blancharde for forcing her to feign illness her entire life.
Dee Dee Blancharde's bizarre behavior is attributed to Munchausen's syndrome by proxy — a controversial psychological condition in which a caretaker pretends that the person they are caring for is sick when, in fact, he/she is not. Often times diagnosed in adult women who've had a long history of abuse, Munchausen's by proxy is considered to be one of the worst forms of child abuse. And behind closed doors, Dee Dee was committing just that. Never wanting to part with her daughter, Dee Dee was giving Gypsy seizure medication that caused her teeth to fall out, forcing her to sit in a wheelchair, and shaving her head.
Embracing the pity of the world, Dee Dee and Gypsy were accepting financial donations and free trips to Walt Disney, courtesy of charities like the Make-a-Wish Foundation. According to Dee Dee, her poor little girl was dying from multiple ailments like leukemia and muscular dystrophy, but in reality, Gypsy was growing in vindictive bitterness.
By the time she reached her early 20s, Gypsy found her way out of Dee Dee's deceptive madness: she met a young man, Nicholas Godejohn, through an online dating site, and with his help, stabbed her mother to death.
On June 15, 2015 Dee Dee and Gypsy's joint Facebook account published a post that shockingly read: “that B*tch is Dead!” After authorities found 48-year-old Dee Dee's body in her Wisconsin home, they were able to trace the murderous couple back to Wisconsin. Gypsy is currently serving a 10-year sentence at a correctional facility in Ohio.
Through photos, interviews, and exclusive one-on-ones with Gypsy herself, HBO's Mommy Dead and Dearest explores how a seemingly happy mother-daughter relationship could harbor a nightmare of deception and turn so dead wrong.
Mommy Dead and Dearest premieres on HBO on May 15th.