Live

Watch CBSN Live

Mo. "disabled" woman pleads not guilty in mother's murder

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- A woman who police say faked a disability pleaded not guilty Monday in her mother's murder during her first court appearance in Missouri.

Gypsy Blancharde, 23, entered the plea during a brief hearing in Greene County Court. She is charged with first-degree murder and armed criminal action in the June 14 stabbing death of 48-year-old Clauddinnea "Dee Dee" Blancharde at their home near Springfield.

1adee3.jpg
Gypsy Blancharde, left, and Nicholas Godejohn, right KOLR

Prosecutors allege Gypsy Blancharde persuaded her boyfriend, Nicholas Godejohn, 26, to kill her mother. Then they allegedly stole money from the house and fled to Godejohn's hometown in Big Bend, Wisconsin, where they were arrested June 16.

Authorities have said the Blanchardes claimed to be Hurricane Katrina survivors and pretended that Gypsy was disabled so they could collect charitable donations.

Gypsy, who neighbors reportedly believed was confined to a wheelchair because of muscular dystrophy, "can walk without assistance or wheelchair and she can do that very well," Greene County Sheriff Jim Arnott said at a news conference June 16.

He said police have unearthed the "appearance of a long financial fraud scheme along with this tragic event."

Dee Dee Blancharde was discovered dead and Gypsy was reported missing early June 15 after several disturbing Facebook messages were posted on Dee Dee Blancharde's account, prompting friends to call police. Police now say Gypsy posted those messages from her boyfriend's home in Wisconsin, leading officials there.

Godejohn told police he stabbed Dee Dee Blancharde to death at Gypsy's request, using a knife she gave him, according to court documents. Gypsy Blancharde allegedly admitted that she hid in the bathroom as her mother was murdered and later helped Godejohn clean up blood with baby wipes, the documents allege.

Blancharde didn't speak during the hearing other than to whisper to her attorney, The Springfield News-Leader reported.

Gypsy Blancharde's lawyer, public defender Michael Stanfield, suggested during Monday's hearing that his defense would include evidence about her difficult home life.

"At this point I would just like to thank the police, the media and all of the citizens who have helped to so quickly uncover the scope of what Dee Dee was involved in," Stanfield said. "We are still trying to understand exactly how large the activities were that Dee Dee was involved in."

Blancharde is being held in Greene County Jail on $1 million bond. Godejohn is also charged with first-degree murder and is jailed in Wisconsin awaiting extradition.

Stanfield told Judge Ron Carrier that he will ask that Blancharde's case to be severed from Godejohn's. Greene County Prosecutor Dan Patterson said he wants the two cases to be tried together. A hearing on that question was scheduled for July 20.

Blancharde's preliminary hearing was tentatively set for July 24.