Now that The Act has reminded true crime fans about one of the creepiest killings out there, the show’s audience has all kinds of opinions about Gypsy Rose Blanchard and the story that inspired the show. But as fans get to know who she is — and who she was back when she was still under her mother’s control — they’ve got a lot of questions. And one of the most popular debates seems to be about whether or not her prison sentence was fair. While the Springfield News-Leader reports that Gypsy’s ex and co-conspirator, Nicholas Godejohn, was sentenced to life in prison in February 2019, his girlfriend got off a lot lighter. However, some thing that she still has it worse.
In July 2016, Gypsy made a plea deal with prosecutors and agreed to plead guilty to a second-degree murder charge in exchange for a 10-year sentence. “When you look at this case, it’s a murder. And it’s a first-degree murder,” the prosecutor said according to the News-Leader. “But it’s also one of the most extraordinary and unusual cases we have seen.” The now-27-year-old’s defense attorney agreed. “Essentially Gypsy’s mother was holding her a prisoner. … Her mother would not allow her to spend any time alone with any other human being. Her mother, when they went to the doctor, did all the talking.”
Though FindLaw states that second-degree murder is punishable by 10-30 years or life in prison in Missouri and Gypsy was given the minimum sentence, she still thinks it was a little “harsh.” In a past interview, she said, “To be honest, I have complicated feelings about [it]. … I believe firmly that, no matter what, murder is not okay. But at the same time, I don’t believe I deserve as many years as I got. … I do believe that I do deserve to spend some time in prison for that crime. But I also understand why it happened, and I don’t believe that I’m in the right place to get the help that I need.”
Her step-mom, Kristy Blanchard, agreed, and so did family friend Fancy Macelli. In an April 2019 interview with In Touch, Fancy argued, “At this point, you’re punishing a person who has spent her entire life being punished. She’s not gonna come out and kill anybody else. God help us, I don’t think anybody else is gonna shove her in a wheelchair for 20 years and tell her she has leukemia and make her teeth rot out of her head and pull her salivary glands. It’s not gonna happen.” While behind bars, she took classes and went through counseling that helped her process much of her life and abuse and they’re grateful for that — but they’re ready to see her come home now.
“I think [her sentence has] done what it’s supposed to do,” said Fancy. “She needs to come out and get help. She needs to go through intensive counseling. She needs to feel the love and support of a real community, a real family. … She needs now to come out and be in our society and acclimate into society where she’s going to be the rest of her life. … And she needs to do good. She wants to be an advocate for people who are being abused, or whose parents may have Munchausen syndrome by proxy, or just general child abuse. She wants to be an advocate. That’s what she wants to do with her life.”
Back in 2017, Gypsy’s cousin Bobby Pitre went even further. In an interview with In Touch in 2017, he said, “There are certain things about the murder that are sick and twisted. … But at the same time, Dee Dee put Gypsy through a living hell. In my eyes, she didn’t really do a crime.” And some fans online agree. While discussing the Hulu show, one wrote, “I truly understand murder is wrong but Gypsy should’ve gotten an easier sentence because her mental health was never taken care of.” Another added, “I hope this @hulu series The Act makes enough people fight for Gypsy Rose Blanchard to get her unfair sentence overturned, because that whole case is is pretty simple to start with. Gypsy Rose was made to be what she [was] by her own mother.”
But not everyone is so sure. Aleah Woodmansee, Gypsy’s real life friend and neighbor, told In Touch she feels “torn” on the issue. “I have gotten so many messages with people’s opinions on her sentencing. Personally — I’m torn. … It’s so easy to say that she did or didn’t deserve her sentence — but there are so many things to consider. Usually, I just say that I hope that she gets the help she needs to be able to live the fullest, most normal life as possible in the most healthy way,” she said. “We don’t know what she needs or how deep the damage that has been done to her truly is.”
Of course, the 27-year-old is set to be paroled before her 33rd birthday, meaning she’ll be out of jail in just a few more years. And though she doesn’t agree with the length of her sentence, being in jail hasn’t been so bad. “She told me she feels like she’s in college because she has friends, she’s getting an education and finally has her own space,” Bobby told In Touch. “She has freedom in there.”
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