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Despite COVID-19 outbreaks, US prison guards refuse to be vaccinated.

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Despite COVID-19 outbreaks, US prison guards refuse to be vaccinated.
Despite COVID-19 outbreaks, US prison guards refuse to be vaccinated.

Despite COVID-19 outbreaks, US prison guards refuse to be vaccinated.

 

 

“Will you take the COVID-19 vaccine if offered?” a Florida correctional officer asked his colleagues in a private Facebook group earlier this year. ”

Just 40 of the 475 respondents said yes, suggesting that more than half of the respondents said “hell no.”

More than half of the people hired by the Massachusetts Department of Corrections refused to be immunized. According to a statewide study in California, half of all correctional officers will wait to be vaccinated. According to medical director Dr. Justin Berk, prison personnel in Rhode Island have declined the vaccine at a higher rate than the imprisoned. In Iowa, a little more than half of workers said they would get vaccinated, according to early polling.

Corrections workers are rejecting vaccinations at unprecedented rates as states begin COVID-19 inoculations in prisons around the country, leading some public health experts to be concerned about the possibility of controlling the pandemic both inside and outside the prison walls. Infection rates are more than three times higher in jails than in the general population. In cramped, poorly ventilated spaces ripe for virus transmission, prison workers aided outbreaks by refusing to wear masks, downplaying people’s symptoms, and haphazardly implementing social distancing and hygiene protocols.

The Associated Press and The Marshall Project partnered on this report about the state of the prison system in the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic. The Marshall Project’s Nicole Lewis, Beth Schwartzapfel, and Tom Meagher contributed reporting.

The Marshall Project and The Associated Press met with correctional officers and union leaders around the country, as well as public health experts and prison physicians, to learn why officers are refusing to be vaccinated despite the fact that they are at a higher risk of contracting COVID-19. Many workers talked on the condition of anonymity because they were afraid of losing their jobs if they said something.

At least 37 prison systems began offering vaccinations to their employees in December and January, especially front-line correctional officers and those working in health care. According to data collected by The Marshall Project and The Associated Press since December, more than 106,000 prison personnel in 29 programs, including the Federal Bureau of Prisons, have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Employees who are vaccinated in a group environment, such as a clinic or pharmacy, are not tracked in some states.

Nonetheless, several correctional officers are rejecting the vaccine because they are worried about the vaccine’s short- and long-term side effects. Others have embraced vaccine-related conspiracy theories. Officers have been unable to get immunized due to their distrust of the prison administration and the treatment of the virus. Correctional officers have said that they would rather be shot than vaccinated in some cases.

Correctional officers aren’t the only ones who have developed vaccine resistance. Health care staff, nursing home caregivers, and police officers — who have experienced the pandemic’s worst consequences — have all refused vaccination at alarmingly high rates.

According to public health advocates, prison staff’ reluctance to take the vaccine threatens to derail attempts to contain the pandemic both inside and outside of jails. Since prisons are coronavirus hotspots, as staff members return home after work, they provide a gateway for the virus to spread. Over the past year, the coronavirus has infected more than 388,000 inmates and 105,000 staff members. In states like Michigan, Kansas, and Arizona, this means that one out of every three employees has been contaminated. One in every 20 employees in Maine, the state with the lowest infection rate, tested positive for COVID-19. These infections killed 2,474 inmates and at least 193 staff members around the country.

Brie Williams, a correctional health specialist at the University of California, San Francisco, or UCSF, said, “People who work in prisons are an important part of the equation that will lead to reduced disease and less risk of renewed explosive COVID-19 outbreaks in the future.”

According to Kareen Troitino, the local corrections officer union president, less than half of the 240 workers at FCI Miami, a federal prison in Florida, had been completely vaccinated as of March 11. According to Troitino, many of the staff who declined raised reservations about the vaccine’s effectiveness and side effects.

Troitino and FCI Miami warden Sylvester Jenkins sent an email to employees in January saying that they had decided to get vaccinated “in an act of unity” and urged other employees to do the same. “While we understand and appreciate that this motion is not necessary, we urge all staff to join us with the goal of promoting staff safety,” the Jan. 27 email said.

There were just 25 workers who signed up. According to Troitino, FCI Miami has had two major coronavirus outbreaks: in July, when more than 400 of the facility’s 852 inmates were accused of having the disease, and in December, when about 100 people were affected at the facility’s minimum-security camp.

There are concerns that this might happen again because so many correctional officers and inmates have not been vaccinated. “Everyone is on pins and needles,” Troitino said. Despite having received the vaccine, he is concerned about another outbreak and the effect on the prison’s already overburdened workers.

The pandemic has put a strain on jails that are still understaffed and have poor health care. Low vaccination rates among officers can put prisons at risk of overcrowding. Since so many staff members had called in sick or declined to work at the peak of the epidemic behind bars, many states had to call in the National Guard to operate the facilities temporarily.

Troitino said that officers at FCI Miami are regularly transporting sick and elderly inmates to the hospital. As a result, the jail is run by a skeleton crew of employees. Workers that have not been vaccinated contribute to the issue because they are at risk of becoming ill if diseases arise in the jails.

“A lot of workers are frightened when they hear stuff like, ‘Oh, we had an outbreak in a unit, 150 inmates have COVID,’” Troitino said. “Everyone gets sick and calls in.”

According to Brian Dawe, a former correctional officer and national director of One Voice United, a policy and advocacy organization for officers, widespread confusion among correctional personnel is contributing to vaccine resistance. According to Dawe, the majority of law enforcement officers lean right. He said, “They get a lot of their information from right-wing media outlets.” “Many of them feel that masks are unnecessary. That it’s the flu.” According to national surveys, Republicans without a college diploma are the most resistant to the vaccine.

Many of their colleagues believe the vaccine could give them the virus, according to several correctional officers in Florida who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they are not allowed to talk to the press. Some people have taken to debunked conspiracy theories circulated on social media, claiming the vaccine contains tracking devices developed by former Microsoft CEO Bill Gates, who has contributed to coronavirus treatment studies, according to the officers. (There are no monitoring devices in the vaccine.) Some say the vaccine was rushed out without enough time to study long-term side effects.

“I wouldn’t get (vaccinated) even though I served in a dorm with every prisoner getting COVID,” said a correctional sergeant with the Florida Department of Corrections for more than a decade. “I’d feel safer operating like that than putting the vaccine in my body if I’m wearing a mask, gloves, washing my face, and being careful.”

The refusal of guards/officers… at my facility to get the vaccine is so common that UCSF researchers have produced a frequently asked questions flyer for the incarcerated, which includes: “I heard the guards/officers… at my facility are refusing to get the vaccine.” Why should I care if they aren’t having it? The researchers urge incarcerated people to read what they can about the vaccine and make their own choices “regardless of what other people are doing.”

Public health advocates have encouraged states to make vaccinations a top priority in prisons and jails, but have warned against prioritizing workers over inmates. The Marshall Project and the Associated Press discovered that at least 15 states started vaccinating workers before the inmates were imprisoned, but figures from certain states aren’t available. Lauren Brinkley-Rubinstein, the director of the COVID Prison Project, which monitors correction officials’ reactions to the pandemic, said, “We know they have anti-vax ideas and attitudes.” “We have repeatedly stated that we do not have a two-tier system.”

Guards’ refusal to be vaccinated, on the other hand, has become a boon to some imprisoned citizens. Since the vaccines have a brief shelf life until thawed, authorities have given the remaining vaccines to inmates rather than letting them go to waste. For sending explosives to state and federal authorities, Julia Ann Poff is incarcerated at FMC Carswell, a federal prison in Texas for women with special medical and mental health needs. After some officers refused, she said she got her first shot in mid-December.

Using the prison’s email system, she wrote, “I consider myself very fortunate to have received it.” “I have lupus and have just been diagnosed with heart disease, so I couldn’t afford to get sick.”

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Ghislaine Maxwell trial: Jurors must decide if she was Epstein enabler or pawn

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Ghislaine Maxwell trial: Jurors must decide if she was Epstein enabler or pawn

NEW YORK (AP) — Ghislaine Maxwell spent the first half of her life with her father, a rags-to-riches billionaire who looted his companies’ pension funds before dying a mysterious death. She spent the second with another tycoon, Jeffrey Epstein, who killed himself while charged with sexually abusing teenage girls.

Now, after a life of both scandal and luxury, Maxwell’s next act will be decided by a U.S. trial.

Starting Monday, prosecutors in New York will argue that even as she was sipping cocktails with the likes of Prince Andrew, Bill Clinton and Donald Trump, Maxwell, 59, was secretly abetting Epstein’s crimes with girls as young as 14.

A key question for jurors: Was Maxwell an unwitting pawn of Epstein’s manipulations or an opportunist who knew all about his sex crimes?

Ian Maxwell says his sister is being railroaded by a U.S. criminal justice system intent on holding someone responsible for Epstein’s crimes.

“And she is paying a heavy price, a blood price for that,” he told The Associated Press.

Ghislaine Maxwell grew up at Headington Hill Hall, a 51-room English country mansion where politicians, business leaders and newspaper editors attended lavish parties punctuated by trumpeters and fireworks. BBC images from the time show Ghislaine as a child with a kid-size plate of food, circling in a party dress, learning how to be a master networker.

Her father, born Jan Ludvik Hoch, was one of nine children of Yiddish-speaking parents in a village in what is now southwestern Ukraine. Escaping the Holocaust, he ultimately joined the British Army, rising to the rank of captain and transforming himself into Robert Maxwell.

After the war, Maxwell built on his military connections to buy the rights to German scientific journals, the beginnings of a publishing empire that ultimately included the Daily Mirror, one of Britain’s biggest tabloid newspapers, as well as the New York Daily News and the book publisher Macmillan.

Along the way he married, fathered nine children and was twice elected to Parliament. He also earned a reputation for boorish behavior and bullying subordinates.

Ghislaine was Maxwell’s youngest child, born on Christmas Day 1961. Her brother Michael was severely brain damaged in a car accident just days later at age 15, although he lived for another seven years.

Her mother, Elisabeth Maxwell, wrote in her memoir that she and Robert were so focused on their injured son that their baby daughter was overlooked. So neglected was Ghislaine that at the age of 3 she stood in front of her mother and said, “Mummy, I exist!”

“I was devastated,’’ Elisabeth Maxwell wrote in “A Mind of My Own: My Life with Robert Maxwell.’’ “And from that day on, we all made a great effort with her, fussing over her so much that she became spoiled, the only one of my children I can truly say that about.’’

While studying history at the University of Oxford in the early 1980s, Ghislaine Maxwell began building contacts of her own, including Prince Andrew, who would later invite her and Epstein to Windsor Castle and Sandringham, Queen Elizabeth II’s country estate.

After graduating, she worked for her father in a variety of roles. In 1991, at age 29, she became his U.S. emissary after he bought the Daily News amid efforts to compete with fellow media tycoon — and New York Post owner — Rupert Murdoch.

Later that year, Robert Maxwell fell off his yacht — the Lady Ghislaine — in the Canary Islands and died in what some saw as an accident and others a suicide. Investors would discover his wealth was an illusion: He had diverted hundreds of millions of pounds from his companies’ pension funds to prop up his empire.

Soon after her father’s death, Ghislaine Maxwell was photographed sitting next to Epstein during a memorial at the Plaza Hotel.

John Sweeney, a longtime U.K. journalist and creator of the podcast “Hunting Ghislaine,” told the AP he believes that “after the monster her father died, she found a second monster.”

“Robert Maxwell stole hundreds of millions of pounds from people who were dependent upon his good word; Jeffrey Epstein turned out to be a darker figure, a worse human being,” Sweeney said.

Ian Maxwell said his sister’s relationship with Epstein developed after the family advised her to remain in the U.S. because the Maxwell name was “in the dirt” at home. Amid the family’s reputational and financial woes, she had to make her own way in New York and forge new friendships, he said.

One of those was with Epstein, a onetime teacher who built his own fortune on the back of contacts like the former CEO of the parent company of lingerie retailer Victoria’s Secret.

“My father was a powerful man — you know, an alpha male, really. And when you have that kind of experience, all of us, all of the brothers and sisters have had to somehow deal with that,” Ian Maxwell said. “Ghislaine was no exception. But clearly to then say, ‘Well, you know, he dies, then she moves along to the next rich man.’ I just don’t buy that.”

In sworn testimony for an earlier civil case, Ghislaine Maxwell acknowledged that she had a romantic relationship with Epstein but said she later became his employee, tasked with things like hiring staff for his six homes.

“I hired assistants, architects, decorators, cooks, cleaners, gardeners, pool people, pilots. I hired all sorts of people,’’ Maxwell said during a deposition in April 2016. “A very small part of my job was to find adult professional massage therapists for Jeffrey. As far as I’m concerned, everyone who came to his house was an adult professional person.”

But in 2005, Epstein was arrested in Palm Beach, Florida, and accused of hiring multiple underage girls — many students at a local high school — to perform sex acts. He pleaded guilty to a charge of procuring a person under 18 for prostitution and served 13 months in jail.

Years of civil litigation followed, in which women accused Epstein and Maxwell of sexual abuse. Prosecutors in New York revived the case and charged Epstein with sex trafficking in 2019, but he killed himself in jail before he could face trial.

The indictment against Maxwell is based on accusations from four women who say she recruited them to give Epstein massages that progressed into sexual abuse. One was just 14 at the time. Maxwell sometimes participated in the sexual encounters and was involved in paying at least one accuser, prosecutors allege.

Annie Farmer alleges she was 16 when she was tricked into visiting Epstein’s New Mexico ranch under the guise of attending an event for college-bound students. But when she arrived, there were no other students. She said Maxwell tried to groom her by taking her to the movies and shopping, and giving her an unsolicited massage while the teenager was topless.

The AP does not identify people who say they were victims of sexual abuse unless they come forward publicly. Although she is not identified by name in court documents, Farmer has described her experiences in interviews with ABC and The New York Times. When Maxwell — a citizen of the U.S., U.K. and France — sought bail, Farmer asked the judge to deny it, calling her a “psychopath.”

“I do not believe that … any of the women she exploited will see justice if she is released on bail,” Farmer wrote in a letter to the court. “She has lived a life of privilege, abusing her position of power to live beyond the rules. Fleeing the country in order to escape once more would fit with her long history of anti-social behavior.”

Virginia Giuffre, who has filed a related civil lawsuit against Britain’s Prince Andrew but isn’t part of the criminal case, has described Maxwell as a “Mary Poppins” figure who made young girls feel comfortable as they were being lured into Epstein’s web.

Giuffre alleges she was 17 when she was flown to London to have sex with Andrew at Maxwell’s house. Other encounters with Andrew occurred at Epstein’s homes in Manhattan and the U.S. Virgin Islands, according to her lawsuit. Andrew denies the allegations.

Prosecutors say Maxwell went into hiding after Epstein’s suicide, moving into a gated New Hampshire home she bought for $1 million — with a husband her lawyers have declined to publicly identify — and wrapping her cellphone in foil to ward off hacking.

Maxwell was just protecting herself from the press, her lawyers said in court papers — a notion U.S. District Judge Alison J. Nathan rejected.

Nathan repeatedly denied Maxwell bail, deeming the risk of her fleeing too great. The judge’s decision has left Maxwell isolated at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, confined to a small cell equipped with a toilet and a concrete bed. Ian Maxwell said imprisonment is preventing his sister from receiving a fair trial.

Ghislaine Maxwell has remained mostly silent about the Epstein allegations over nearly two decades, but in a 2016 deposition in a civil case, she said she learned about the allegations against him “like everybody else, like the rest of the world, when it was announced in the papers.’’

She said she never saw Epstein getting massages from anyone under 18 and that no one ever complained to her that Epstein demanded sex.

“Never,” she declared.

With Epstein gone and no apparent recordings of alleged incidents that occurred two decades ago, the trial will likely hinge on the women’s allegations and Maxwell’s denial.

A jury will soon decide who it believes.

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Secret boyfriend: A Missouri family’s outrageous con that ended with a 2015 murder

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Secret boyfriend: A Missouri family’s outrageous con that ended with a 2015 murder

ST. LOUIS, Mo. – In October 2005, after Hurricane Katrina destroyed multiple areas of New Orleans, Claudine “Dee Dee” Blanchard and her daughter Gypsy Rose Blanchard moved to a home in Aurora, Missouri. Dee Dee claims Gypsy’s medical records were destroyed in the flooding.

According to Blanchard, Gypsy was diagnosed with leukemia and muscular dystrophy. She was wheelchair-bound, used a feeding tube, and had an oxygen tank. This would later be discovered as untrue.

Taking advantage of charities

In March of 2008, Habitat for Humanity built a small house in Springfield for the Blanchards. The home was specifically designed with accessibility features like lower light switches, a large bathtub, wide doorways, and a wheelchair ramp.

During this time, news outlets, the public, friends, and neighbors were fooled by their con. An outpouring of support came from charity organizations, donations, and even celebrities. They received free flights, lodging, and trips.

The Blanchards went on charity trips to Disney World and through the Make-a-Wish Foundation met Miranda Lambert. According to Tara Sullins, a friend of Blanchard, they received a large sum of money from Lambert and Blake Shelton for medical treatment in Paris.

Dee Dee’s legal name was Clauddine Blanchard. She uses various aliases and misspellings over the years such as DeDe, Claudine, and Deno. According to Michelle Dean’s BuzzFeed article, Dee Dee Wanted Her Daughter To Be Sick, Gypsy Wanted Her Mom Murdered, by the time she reached Missouri, she went be Clauddinnea and always added an “e” to her last name.

Gypsy’s father, Rod Blanchard, met Dee Dee while in high school. He was 17 years old and she was 24 when she got pregnant. They would soon get married, but he left the marriage before Gypsy was born. He remained involved with his daughter early on. He would later remarry and continue to make monthly child support payments, sent gifts, spoke to her on the phone. But according to Michelle Dean from BuzzFeed News, Dee Dee told neighbors Rod was an abusive drug addict and alcoholic who had never come to terms with Gypsy’s health issues and never sent them any money.

Dee Dee was convinced Gypsy suffered from a wide range of health issues. They spent a lot of time with various specialists throughout Louisiana. With her insistence, she managed to get treatment for her daughter’s ailments, including prescriptions for anti-seizure medication and surgeries.

Dr. Bernardo Flasterstein, Gypsy’s neurologist, became suspicious of her muscular dystrophy diagnosis. He ordered MRIs and blood tests, which found no abnormalities. After contacting Gypsy’s doctors in New Orleans, he learned that Gypsy’s original muscle biopsy had come back negative, which undermined Dee dee’s self-reported diagnosis as well as the claim that all of Gypsy’s records had been destroyed by flooding.  

He suspected the possibility of Munchausen syndrome by proxy. A condition in which a caregiver creates the appearance of health problems in another person, typically their child. 

Flasterstein did not report Blanchard to social services. He said he had been told by other doctors to treat the pair with ‘golden gloves’ and doubted the authorities would believe him anyway. 

A secret boyfriend

According to Michelle Dean’s BuzzFeed article, in 2012, Gypsy Blanchard met Nicholas Godejohn online. He was from Big Bend, Wisconsin, and had been diagnosed with autism.

The pair met online on a Christian singles dating site. They hit it off immediately. Blanchard and Godejohn spoke of eloping, naming future children they would have together, and sexual exchanges.

In HBO’s documentary, Mommy Dead and Dearest, Blanchard revealed Godejohn was into BDSM, sexual activity involving such practices as the use of physical restraints, the granting and relinquishing of control, and the infliction of pain. Blanchard was taught how to roleplay characters each with names and personas. Using secret social media accounts, she would dress up in costumes and share photos of herself with Godejohn.

In 2013, Godejohn pleaded no contest to disorderly conduct for allegedly viewing pornography on his laptop at a McDonald’s and touching himself inappropriately.

Their relationship would be a secret for two and half years before confiding to Blanchard’s friend, Aleah Woodmansee in 2014. Woodmansee found their relationship alarming due to the sexual nature and that she believed Blanchard was still a minor. She tried to talk her out of continuing contact with Godejohn, but Blanchard appeared to be completely smitten.

Blanchard confessed she wanted to be more like girls her age and date but knew Dee Dee would have to approve first.

At Godejohn’s trial, Blanchard revealed she arranged and paid for him to meet her mother in Springfield. She hoped that Dee Dee might allow them to date if she thought they met for the first time in person. They decided to meet at a movie theater to see Cinderella. Blanchard said her mother hated him. Regardless, she was able to sneak away and lose her virginity to Godejohn in a bathroom stall.

The murder

In an interview with 20/20, Blanchard said her mother got jealous that she was giving Godejohn too much attention and ordered her to stay away from him. They fought for weeks over the event. Gypsy said her mother called her names like slut and whore.

After the failed attempt, Blanchard and Godejohn began planning Dee Dee’s murder. “It was not because I hated her. It was because I wanted to escape her,” she said.

On June 2015, the day of the murder, per ABC News, Godejohn traveled to Missouri, checked into a motel, and waited for a confirmation text from Blanchard. Once Dee Dee fell asleep, he went to their home where Blanchard gave him a knife. She hid in the bathroom with her hands over her ears while Godejohn stabbed Dee Dee to death.

In an interview with 20/20, she said, “I honestly thought he would end up not doing it. I heard her scream once, and there was more screaming but not like the kind in a horror film. Just like a startled scream, and she asked, ‘Who was it that was in the bedroom?’ And she called out to my name about three or four times, and at that point, I wanted to go help her so bad, but I was so afraid to get up. It’s like my body wouldn’t move. Then everything just went quiet.”

Blanchard and Godejohn admitted they had sex immediately after the murder, according to ABC News.

On June 14th, 2015, a pair of disturbing posts appeared on Dee Dee’s Facebook page. Many wondered if the account had been hacked, but the second message made it clear something was wrong. 

On the run from the law

Blanchard and Godejohn stayed overnight in his motel in Springfield. They left on a bus to Big Bend, Wisconsin, on June 14th.

It was that afternoon when she made Godejohn create the Facebook posts. “I couldn’t stand the thought of her just there because what happens if it would have taken months to find her, so I wanted her found so she could have a proper burial,” Blanchard told 20/20.

In Springfield, when police found Dee Dee’s body, Woodmansee told police about Blanchard’s secret online relationship with Godejohn. With help from Facebook, authorities were able to find his IP address and track him and Blanchard down in Wisconsin.

Police from Waukesha County, Wisconsin, were dispatched to Godejohn’s family home. He and Blanchard were taken into custody on charges of murder and felony armed criminal action. The pair were extradited back to Missouri and were held on a one million dollar bond.  

Greene County Sheriff Jim Arnott held a press conference to warn the public about donating money to any of the fundraiser accounts associated with the Blanchards.

Gypsy’s trial

While the charge of first-degree murder can carry the death penalty under Missouri law or life without parole, county prosecutor Dan Patterson announced he would not seek the death penalty for either Blanchard or Godejohn, calling the case, “extraordinary and unusual”.

Investigations into the crime revealed a series of texts between them that appeared to discuss and plan Dee Dee’s death. It read, “Honey, you forget I am ruthless, and my hatred of her will force her to die,” Godejohn texted Blanchard. “It’s my evil side doing it. He won’t mess up, because he enjoys killing.”   

According to BuzzFeed, prosecutors also said they found social media evidence of Blanchard directly asking Godejohn to kill her mother, though these have never been made public. Documents from pretrial discovery show him telling a friend about Blanchard’s desire to murder her mother as early as May 2014.

On June 29th, Gypsy Blanchard pleaded not guilty to charges of first-degree murder and armed criminal action.

Mike Stanfield, Blanchard’s attorney, said he was able to uncover decades worth of abuse that Dee Dee inflicted on Blanchard as a part of an elaborate fraud scheme. For months, he traveled to Lousiana to try to recover her medical records. 

After the disclosure of how Dee Dee had treated Blanchard all those years, sympathy for her as the victim of a violent murder quickly shifted to her daughter as a long-term victim of child abuse.   

Blanchard revealed everything about the financial fraud scheme. She admitted she had been lying for years and that her mom made her do it. But even she didn’t know everything that happened. When Blanchard first spoke with the police she told them she was 19. Gypsy’s father, Rod Blanchard, had to clarify she was actually 23.  

According to the HBO documentary, Dee Dee told her she suffered from asthma, epilepsy, hearing and vision impairments, had to be fed with by a feeding tube, was paralyzed from the waist down, and suffered from intellectual disabilities. During medical visits gypsy was told to not move her legs and to just play with the dolls she would bring with her as Dee Dee did all of the talking.  

Gypsy kept the facade for years, but as she became older, she expressed feelings of wanting freedom and love.

Attorney Mike Stanfield told BuzzFeed that Gypsy was so undernourished that during the year she was in the county jail, she gained 14 pounds, in contrast to most of his clients who lose weight in that situation.

In July 2015, she accepted a plea bargain agreement of second-degree murder and was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Speaking with various media outlets, Blanchard says she was able to research Munchausen syndrome by proxy and said her mother had every symptom.

She also says she feels freer in prison than she was before with her mother.

Blanchard is now serving her sentence in Missouri’s Chillicothe Correctional Center.

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Bo Byram is back. Nathan MacKinnon is returning. The Avalanche’s NHL-leading scoring clip is bound to surge.

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Bo Byram’s return sparks Avalanche in victory over Nashville Predators

Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said if rookie Bo Byram had shot quicker a couple of times on Saturday night, the dynamic young defenseman would have had three goals against Nashville.

Following Colorado’s 6-2 victory, Bednar also could have said if star center Nathan MacKinnon was in the lineup, the Avs could have reached seven goals for the fourth time in eight games.

Bottom line: Colorado proved in November that it is loaded offensively, and has the ability to become more dangerous when MacKinnon rejoins Byram in the lineup on Wednesday at Toronto. The Avs are 7-1 in MacKinnon’s latest absence and 5-1 without both MacKinnon and Byram this month.

They have averaged 5.4 goals in the past eight games to lead the NHL in scoring at 4.00. And their .750 winning percentage in November (7-2-1) is a club record.

What happens when MacKinnon follows Byram in rejoining the lineup in the next game on Wednesday at Toronto? Perhaps MacKinnon will realize he doesn’t have to be the superstar for this team to score more goals than it allows, and that diminished pressure will add to the team’s chemistry.

“He’s one of the best players in the world,” Mikko Rantanen, who had three goals and four points against the Preds, said of MacKinnon. “Getting one of the best players back to the team is only going to help us.”

Byram is certainly an important side piece, and he adds to what already is the NHL’s most multi-faceted blue-line corps.

Byram, who settled for the game-winning goal and four shots in logging 22:00 after missing six games with another concussion, was the second coming of Cale Makar against the Preds. That’s a big statement as Makar, the 2021 Norris Trophy finalist who is on an offensive tear, had seven goals and 12 points in his career-high six-game points streak.

Bednar had high praise for Byram for how quickly the 20-year-old returned to his dominant nature while coming off at least his third concussion of 2021.

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