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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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Avalanche’s Nazem Kadri, former DU star Troy Terry voted to NHL All-Star Game

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Avalanche’s Nazem Kadri, former DU star Troy Terry voted to NHL All-Star Game

Avalanche center Nazem Kadri is headed to his first NHL All-Star Game. So is Colorado native and former Denver Pioneers standout Troy Terry.

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DIA sets new record for the number of guns seized at airport security

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DIA sets new record for the number of guns seized at airport security

Denver International Airport ranked sixth nationally in 2021 for the number of firearms seized by TSA agents at security checkpoints, the Transportation Security Administration announced Tuesday.

In 2021, agents found 141 firearms in travelers carry-on luggage, more than any year since 2018, according to TSA data. Nationally, 5,972 guns were seized at airport security checkpoints. The 141 guns seized set a new record at the Denver airport, the TSA said in a news release.

“As the data suggests, travelers bringing firearms in carry-on luggage is not new and we have now reached an unacceptable level of carelessness by gun owners. Simply stated, one gun in carry-on luggage is one too many,” TSA Federal Security Director for Colorado Larry Nau said in a news release.

Still, the percentage of passengers trying to bring guns onto airplanes is small.

Security agents at DIA screened approximately 18.3 million departing passengers and crew in 2021, making it the sixth busiest airport for TSA security checkpoint screening operations. That is a 72% increase in passenger traffic over 2020, a year where air travel was marred by the coronavirus pandemic.

The airports with the most firearms seized at security in 2021 are:

  • Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport , 507
  • Dallas Fort Worth International Airport, 317
  • Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport, 245
  • Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, 196
  • Nashville International Airport, 163.

Travelers caught with firearms at an airport security checkpoint face criminal and civil penalties. Even those with concealed carry permits must check their unloaded weapons in a hard-sided case.

For more information on carrying firearms on an airplane, visit https://www.tsa.gov/travel/transporting-firearms-and-ammunition.

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Opinion: Colorado must address workforce age discrimination

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Opinion: Colorado must address workforce age discrimination

We have a paradox going on in Colorado: employers are desperately looking for talent, and older adults are desperately looking for work. But workforce age discrimination makes it difficult for older Coloradans to fully contribute to the labor market.

For years, older workers from every corner of the state have told me their frustrating and often heartbreaking stories of age discrimination that prevented them from landing needed jobs, that they faced once in the workplace, and that they felt as they were forced out.

Stories like these: a man who was a colleague of mine, a fundraising pro with decades of success who couldn’t get callbacks for development jobs; a former corporate marketing VP who was told that she lost out to a younger applicant because the hiring manager assumed she would not be social media savvy; a group of women in their 60s forced to live on small social security checks — this despite help-wanted signs in almost every store window in their Western Slope town.

Such age discrimination is common: studies from AARP and others show that 78% of workers over 45 have seen or experienced age discrimination in the workplace and over one-half of long-time, employees age 50 and over are forced to leave positions before they would voluntarily choose to do so. Once this happens, only 10% of them ever regain their previous economic status.

Nationwide, the country lost $850 billion in GDP due to age discrimination and that could grow to $3.9 trillion by 2050, reports the AARP.

Discrimination based upon age has especially harmful consequences for already economically vulnerable groups like women, people of color, and those with low incomes.

There are many reasons to work toward ending workforce age discrimination. There are ways to do it, and there’s no time to waste.

First off, ending age discrimination is good for business. Older adults provide numerous benefits in the workplace. Intergenerational teams create mentoring opportunities, improve team problem-solving, and increase creativity born from combining different perspectives and histories.

Keeping older workers on the job strengthens economies from Main Street to Wall Street. Ongoing paychecks mean more disposable income spent and more taxes paid, while tax-supported benefits can be delayed.

Older adults also need to continue working: the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that 48% of households headed by a person aged 55 or older lack retirement savings. The median 401(k) balance for those between 55 and 64 is less than $15,000. For older adults who lack adequate savings, continuing to work past the traditional retirement age is an economic necessity.

Last, but not least, older adults want to continue working, and continued workforce participation may be connected to better physical and mental health for older adults.

When the legislature reconvenes in January, we can change our workforce discrimination laws so that our economy benefits from the experience and wisdom of older workers.

We must end requirements that job applicants write their high school graduation dates or other age-identifiers on application forms. Right now, it is illegal to ask someone their age, but not their high school graduation date.

And also, ensure that the penalties for age discrimination are commensurate with those for other forms of discrimination. Currently in Colorado, compensatory and punitive damages are allowed in race and gender discrimination cases, but not for age.

Make clear that Colorado’s age discrimination laws apply to hiring, and that the burden of providing age discrimination is not higher than for other forms of discrimination.

Some problems seem overwhelming and too big to solve, but this is one we can address. Certainly, we can’t legislate away ageism, but we can give older workers the same protections afforded to other groups — and we can help businesses get and keep the workers they need.

Janine Vanderburg directs Changing the Narrative, a Colorado-based campaign to change the way people think, talk and act about aging and ageism. The end game? To end ageism. You can read more about what they are doing to reduce workplace ageism.

To send a letter to the editor about this article, submit online or check out our guidelines for how to submit by email or mail.

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