“That bitch is dead!”
When those chilling words appeared on the shared Facebook page of Dee Dee Blanchard and her teenage daughter Gypsy Rose, friends were immediately concerned. “Between the two of them, never a heavy word. Never a curse word, heaven forbid,” said friend Kim Blanchard (no relation) in Oxygen’s Killer Couples: Gypsy Rose and Nick special. “To see an expletive on their [Facebook page] was like, ‘Oh my goodness!’”
The cruel Facebook post led the Greene County, Missouri police to perform a wellness check at the Blanchards’ home, where they discovered Dee Dee’s dead body, marked by stab wounds, in bed. Gypsy Rose was nowhere to be seen.
The unusual story of Dee Dee Blanchard’s 2015 murder is well-trod territory by now. The name Gypsy Rose Blanchard should ring a few bells, or perhaps even bring to mind images of a skinny wheelchair-bound girl with a shaved head and thick-framed glasses. The twisted true story of murder and Munchausen syndrome by proxy in the Midwest has since been the subject of an in-depth BuzzFeed News article, an HBO documentary called Mommy Dead and Dearest (directed by I Love You, Now Die’s Erin Lee Carr) and a Hulu series, The Act. The latter, starring Joey King and showbiz veteran Patricia Arquette, received overwhelmingly positive reviews from critics.
Spanning eight hour-long episodes, The Act tells the story of how, after losing their house in Hurricane Katrina, single mom Dee Dee Blanchard and her sickly daughter moved into a Habitat for Humanity home in Springfield, Missouri. Friends and neighbors quickly grew to love and pity the mother-daughter duo.
However, after Dee Dee’s murder, a new picture emerged. Gypsy Rose was not sick at all and could in fact walk perfectly well without a wheelchair. Her mother had lied about her age, convinced her she was ill, and kept her as a prisoner in her own home. To free herself from the abuse, she and her secret online boyfriend Nicholas Godejohn killed Dee Dee. Both were charged with murder and are currently serving sentences (10 years for her, life for him). So, what more is there to add to this narrative?
Nothing, it turns out, regardless of Oxygen’s best efforts in their true crime special, Gypsy Rose and Nick, the latest episode in the Killer Couples series. The two-hour episode essentially covers the same details that everyone already knows with one notable difference: Nick Godejohn gets to tell his side of the story.
The episode really shouldn’t even be called Gypsy Rose and Nick. It is entirely about Nick, which was a smart call on Oxygen’s behalf, given the aforementioned exhaustive coverage of Gypsy Rose’s story. In the opening minutes of the special, Godejohn sputters out a declaration about his ex-girlfriend/co-conspirator: “That woman will always be in my heart. Because she’ll always be in my heart, everything about her will always be stuck with me. If I would have done it again, I might have done it differently. But I would have done it again.” By “it,” he presumably means commit murder. That’s how much he still loves Gypsy Rose, despite the fact that she is currently engaged to a different man.
Gypsy Rose and Godejohn met online in 2012 on a Christian dating website and progressed into a deeply intimate three-year correspondence. As Gypsy Rose began to trust Godejohn, she gradually opened up about her home life. Eventually, Gypsy Rose told Godejohn that so long as her mother was alive, the two would never be able to be together. The couple engaged in online role play, each cultivating different characters to match different personalities. Godejohn would later use these personalities to explain the mindsets they were in when they plotted and killed Dee Dee.
Killer Couples seems to advance a new theory that Godejohn was manipulated into committing the vicious act by Gypsy Rose, who had picked up masterful emotional manipulation tactics from her mother. One local journalist even suggests that Gypsy Rose never actually loved Godejohn, that it was all, well, an act. Through interviews with journalists, law enforcement, Godejohn, and Godejohn’s father, the episode portrays the young man as a troubled, misunderstood loner.
Godejohn himself tells the cameras—his lips almost entirely obscured by a thick, wiry beard and mustache—that he was in special education programs from kindergarten through high school. He was diagnosed with autism in elementary school. “Really, I kept to myself,” he says. “The reason I kept to myself is because I didn’t really have the social skills due to my mental disability.” Godejohn’s father, Bobby Godejohn, alleges that his son only did what he did because he genuinely thought he was helping his beloved.
Irrefutable details of the case, woven throughout Godejohn’s emotional testimony, bring the viewer back down to earth. Of the 17 stab wounds Dee Dee Blanchard sustained, the one on the back of her neck was so deep that she was almost decapitated. And of course, Godejohn himself admits at the beginning of the episode that he would kill again.
“That was a big part I think of what, I hope, dispelled this knight in shining armor myth about Mr. Godejohn,” says the assistant prosecutor Nathan Chapman, “that it wasn’t just a reluctant, ‘I guess I’ll just do what has to be done to save you.’ That he really got into the role for him, that he got to play this sort of assassin.”
As someone who has seen both Mommy Dead and Dearest and The Act, I yawned my way through Killer Couples: Gypsy Rose and Nick. While it is undoubtedly important to hear from Nick Godejohn himself, it’s not enough to justify devoting two more hours of content to telling the same story.