There’s no question that Dee Dee Blanchard committed fraud when she deceived doctors, her family, and even her own daughter, Gypsy Rose, about the severity of Gypsy’s medical condition for financial gain and as a result of what experts believe is Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy. Her years of inflicting medical abuse were well documented first in Michelle Dean’s gripping Buzzfeed article about Dee Dee and Gypsy back in 2016, then in HBO’s investigative documentary, Mommy Dead and Dearest, in 2017, and now, in Hulu’s dramatic limited series, The Act.
But one of many questions that remain concerns Dee Dee’s past: what other crimes did Dee Dee commit prior to pulling off her headline-making act? In episode 6 of Hulu's fictionalized series about the mother and daughter, a young Dee Dee goes to jail for writing bad checks shortly after giving birth to Gypsy (Joey King). Dee Dee (Patricia Arquette) is taken away from her home in handcuffs while her mother, Emma (Margo Martindale), looks on in disgust. In the series, Dee Dee is locked behind for bars for several months, with Emma looking after baby Gypsy in the interim.
In reality, there are no available public records of any arrests, though Dee Dee (who also went by her birth name, Clauddine, or any number of variations on her name — Claudinea, DeDe, Claudine, Deno) had a number of run-ins with the law that should have been red flags to friends and family. In HBO’s 2017 documentary, several relatives made claims about Dee Dee’s bad track record of misdeeds, which included allegedly writing bad checks, committing credit card fraud, and engaging in petty theft.
They also claimed, alarmingly, that Dee Dee may have helped kill her own mother, Emma Pitre, through slow starvation. (Dee Dee’s stepmother, Laura, also claimed in the doc that Dee Dee once tried to kill her by putting the weed killer, Roundup, in her food. Laura ultimately survived, but was bedridden for nine months following the alleged murder attempt.)
Dee Dee’s own father, Claude Pitre, said on the documentary that “she was OK” as a daughter growing up, but given all her problematic behavior later on in life, he felt she “got what she deserved” when she was ultimately murdered in June 2015. The family even ended up flushing Dee Dee’s ashes down the toilet after she was cremated because no one wanted to claim them.
“I think Dee Dee’s problem was she started a web of lies, and there was no escaping after,” her ex, and Gypsy’s father, Rod Blanchard, told Buzzfeed in 2016. “She got so wound up in it, it was like a tornado got started, and then once she was in so deep there was no escaping. One lie had to cover another lie, had to cover another lie, and that was her way of life.”
When things got extremely tense between Dee Dee and her family, she simply moved from Lafourche Parish, Louisiana, two hours north to Slidell. It was in this new town that she and Gypsy lived when Hurricane Katrina completely wiped out their home in 2005, precipitating the larger-than-life lie that all of Gypsy’s medical records had been washed away in the storm.
It would be the lie that finally began to unravel Dee Dee's other misdeeds, and the one the started the fictionalized character's journey on The Act.