Munchausen by Proxy: Exploring HBO’s Upcoming True Crime Documentary, Mommy Dead and Dearest

The latest HBO true crime documentary deals with a very strange and often baffling disorder: Munchausen syndrome by proxy. An offshoot of Munchausen syndrome, Munchausen by proxy sees a caregiver—often a mother or spouse—create symptoms in those they care for (whether by fabricating symptoms or physically causing harm/illness) in order to gain sympathy and attention. While extremely rare, it’s also extremely dangerous. Some of the more high-profile cases led to years of physical and psychological torture and even death.

Mommy Dead and Dearest, premiering May 15th at 10 p.m. on HBO, deals with the strange case of Dee Dee and Gypsy Rose Blancharde. Gypsy Rose was a very ill little girl, confined to a wheelchair and suffering from a litany of serious illnesses, including: leukemia, muscular dystrophy, seizures, hair loss, and teeth loss. Her mother, always by her side, seemed to be a wonderful caregiver to her unfortunate child.

After being displaced by Hurricane Katrina, the two were the recipient of a new handicap-accessible home built by Habitat for Humanities. Over the years, they received all sorts of trips, donations, and assistance from several charity organizations. But it was all a lie…

On June 14, 2015, friends and family were alarmed by a crude and unusual Facebook status: “That Bitch is dead!” After neither answered the phone or the door, the police were summoned to the home where Dee Dee was found stabbed to death in her bedroom. Gypsy was nowhere to be found—though all of her wheelchairs and medical equipment remained.

A frantic search was conducted, and Gypsy was found two days later in Wisconsin—walking on her own. Was this a case of a mother manipulating her child for financial gain and public sympathy? Were the two scheming together to until Gypsy got fed up with a life of lies?

Watch Mommy Dead and Dearest on Monday, May 15th to find out!

Watch the trailer: