For most women, a child becoming ill is a nightmare. But for some, it's a dream come true — one they'll go to horrifying lengths to make happen.
Later this month, Lifetime will be airing “Love You to Death,” a film based on a story so shocking, it’s hard to believe it actually happened. The fictionalized movie, which stars Marcia Gay Harden of “50 Shades” and “Mystic River” fame, is inspired to some degree by the terrifying and tragic tale of Gypsy Rose Blanchard, who murdered her own mother after she was forced to fake being sick since she was practically a baby. So what exactly happened to Gypsy Rose, and how is it similiar to this upcoming movie?
From a young age, Gypsy Rose Blanchard’s mother Clauddine "Dee Dee" Blanchard pretended that Gypsy was disabled and forced her to undergo unnecessary medical treatments. She claimed that Gypsy couldn’t walk and required a wheelchair, and even insisted Gypsy suffered from leukemia, muscular dystrophy, and mental retardation, amongst other ailments. Gypsy often wore wigs, apparently to give off the appearance of having leukemia.
But, in reality, Gypsy wasn’t sick at all — and it would lead to Dee Dee's murder, when Gypsy met a boyfriend, Nicholas Godejohn, online, and convinced him to help her kill her mother so she could be free of her.
The investigation of the gruesome murder exposed the lies about Gypsy Rose’s illnesses and revealed that Gypsy Rose was very much a hostage of her mother’s deception. Dee Dee pretended that her daughter was sick to garner sympathy, donations, free trips, and even a house. Professionals have speculated that she had Munchausen by proxy, which is "a mental health problem in which a caregiver makes up or causes an illness or injury in a person under his or her care, such as a child, an elderly adult, or a person who has a disability," according to the University of Michigan.
The case was the subject of a 2017 HBO documentary, "Mommy Dead and Dearest."
“I was taking medication that she said was cancer medicine,” Gypsy Rose recalled in a prison interview for the documentary. “She would shave my head and say, ‘Well it’s going to fall out anyway, so let’s just keep it nice and neat.’ I just went on blind faith that a mother knows best.”
“Love You To Death,” which premieres on Jan. 26, promises to feature a similar mother-daughter relationship. Lifetime describes the movie as “inspired by a true story” and a “shocking tale of a mother and daughter who are nothing like they seem, their tumultuous relationship ending in a brutal murder.”
Esme is described “as the sickly, child-like wheelchair-bound daughter, and Camile as the perfect caretaker and mother. They seem a perfect pair until Camile is found stabbed to death in her home, and Esme has vanished, believed to be kidnapped by the killer. But when Esme is found, a terrible secret emerges. Esme was not kidnapped. Instead, she ran away with her boyfriend after working with him to murder Camile. More than that, Esme is perfectly healthy, mentally and physically, and has been a victim of Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy, forced to believe she was ill by her controlling, abusive mother.”
In real life, Dee Dee was found murdered in her Missouri home on June 14, 2015, face down in her mattress and surrounded by a puddle of blood. Gypsy is currently serving a 10-year prison sentenced for her role as the mastermind in her mother's murder. Godejohn was found guilty last year of committing the act. He faces life imprisonment.
[Photo: Associated Press]
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