SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) — A woman who for years was made out to be seriously ill by her abusive mother testified on Thursday that she had talked her boyfriend, whom she’d met online, into coming to Missouri to kill her abusive mom, believing it was the only way she could be free of her.
The testimony from Gypsy Blanchard, 27, came in the trial of her former boyfriend, Nicholas Godejohn of Big Bend. His attorneys don’t deny that he killed 48-year-old Clauddine “Dee Dee” Blanchard in June 2015 at her home near Springfield, Missouri, but are hoping to persuade jurors to convict him of something other than first-degree murder, which carries a sentence of life in prison.
Gypsy Blanchard, who is already serving a 10-year prison sentence for second-degree murder in her mom’s death, was the first witness to testify for the defense after prosecutors wrapped up their presentation on Wednesday, The Springfield News-Leader reported .
“I wanted to be free of her hold on me,” Blanchard said. She went on to add: “I talked him into it.”
It’s the latest twist in a bizarre case that was the subject of the 2017 HBO documentary “Mommy Dead and Dearest.” Friends and attorneys say Clauddine Blanchard had essentially kept her daughter prisoner in their home, which was provided by Habitat for Humanity. Blanchard for years forced her daughter to use a wheelchair and to undergo unnecessary medical tests. Gypsy Blanchard had little formal schooling, according to investigators, and friends believed she was severely ill and developmentally delayed. It turned out, she was perfectly healthy.
Blanchard said she met Godejohn on a Christian dating website in 2012 and that they carried out a secret relationship, in party by using text messages, which prosecutors had read earlier in Godejohn’s trial.
Prosecutors have argued that Godejohn plotted for more than a year before he stabbed Clauddine Blanchard. His attorneys argue that he is autistic and therefore hasn’t got the mental capabilities required for premeditation.
But under questioning from prosecutors, Gypsy acknowledged that Godejohn dominated their relationship, saying he was the “master” and she was the “slave.”
She testified that her mom made her believe that she had muscular dystrophy, cancer and other ailments. She said it wasn’t until she was 19 that she began to understand that she wasn’t as sick as her mom said, and that it wasn’t until her arrest that she realized how healthy she was.
She said she was too afraid of her mom to tell doctors the truth. She said her mother hit her, punched her and starved her. Once after she tried to run away, she said, her mother chained her to a bed for two weeks.
“I feared her more than I feared anyone else,” she said.
She said she first met Godejohn in person in March 2015, when he visited from Wisconsin. In text messages presented earlier in the trial, Godejohn and Gypsy generally discussed love, sex and planning a life together — until June 2015, when they began discussing needing duct tape and knives in the days before Clauddine Blanchard was killed. Godejohn and Gypsy often referred to each other’s darker impulses. Godejohn discussed his “evil side” that he said “enjoys killing.” Gypsy’s darker side was called “Ruby” in the texts.
Clauddine Blanchard’s body was found after her friends noticed a post on her Facebook page stating, “That (expletive) is dead.”
Prosecutors also played a tape of an interview with Godejohn conducted after he and Gypsy Blanchard were arrested at his home in Wisconsin. In the interview, Godejohn said he killed Clauddine Blanchard because Gypsy “asked me to.”
“She felt it was her only way to be with me,” he said.