For the first time in her life, Gypsy Rose Blanchard is finally in control.
Gypsy became a national true crime sensation when it was revealed in 2015 that she planned the murder of her mother Dee Dee Blanchard with her then-boyfriend after suffering years of medical child abuse.
Almost five years later, following the release of an HBO documentary, Mommy Dead and Dearest, many TV specials, and now The Act, Hulu's miniseries that reveals the horrific true story of the mother and daughter duo's disturbing relationship, the public is still fascinated by Gypsy, still questioning if she's a victim or a villain.
And the latest twist in her tale is one of the most surprising yet: Obsessed with Disney princesses growing up, the 27-year-old is getting her fairy tale ending, even if she's behind bars. Gypsy is engaged, experiencing more freedom in prison than she ever did in real-life before Dee Dee's death, once saying 10 years in prison was "better" than 10 more years under her mother's care.
"In some ways they're the same, but now I'm so much more freer," Gypsy said of her life in prison compared to her life with her mother during her 20/20 interview. "The prison I was living in before with my mom, it was like I couldn't walk, I couldn't eat, I couldn't have friends. Over here, I feel like I'm freer in prison than living with my mom. [I can] live like a normal woman."
And that includes an engagement. Yes, really.
Fancy Macelli, a family friend who also serves as a public spokesperson for the Blanchards, confirmed to E! News that Gypsy got engaged earlier this year, with InTouch Weekly first reporting the happy news.
"It's something that she's been keeping under wraps for a little bit," Macelli shared with us. "It's very exciting for her, she's very excited."
Macelli added, "She's doing really, really well and I think there has been a maturity that has happened because now she's able to have normal, normal-ish relationships with people that are not controlled by one person."
After almost two decades under Dee Dee's rule, Gypsy is finally calling the shots in her life.
Due to a case of Munchausen syndrome by proxy, a mental health problem in which a caregiver makes up or causes an illness or injury in a person under his or her care, Dee Dee had everyone—including over 100 doctors that had provided consultations and treatments and organizations like Make-A-Wish, even Gypsy's own father—that her daughter was a paraplegic battling muscular dystrophy, leukemia and epilepsy.
Dee Dee controlled every aspect of Gypsy's life, actively pushing away any possibilities of normal teenage things, like friends
"She would show interest in different boys and try to ask me advice on how do you approach them, how to you kiss a boy," Gypsy's neighbor and close friend Aleah Woodmansee told ABC News, but said Dee Dee would immediately try to shut the girl talk down. "It was like, 'My daughter was the mentality of a child, like you're talking to her about teenage girl things.'"
Dee Dee would also tell doctors her daughter had a history of mental retardation, operating at the same level as a seven year-old, all while putting her hands over Gypsy's ears.
This control ultimately lead to Gypsy rebelling against her mother by secretly setting up a profile on a Christian dating site, which ultimately put her in contact with Nicholas Gottejohn, the man who would ultimately be sentenced to life in prison for stabbing Dee Dee to death.
In Mommy Dead and Dearest, Gypsy said she liked the Disney movie Tangled, which was about Rapunzel "who is kept in this tower for all of her life...so that is all she knows," something she related to, dreaming of being rescued by her own Prince Charming.
When talking about the end of the film, she explained the villain died because "Rapunzel tried to stand up for herself and leave her tower."
At the time, Gypsy couldn't distinguish the difference between fantasy and reality, saying in the 2017 documentary, "But in the Disney movies, everything's a fantasy, it's a fairy tale. And life is not a fairy tale. I learned all that the hard way."
She thought she found her own "fairy tale Prince Charming" in Nick, messaging him, "im a little emberessed this is my first time on an online dateing site but i thought it might be nice to me new people and maybe find love too."
They quickly entered a relationship, which became super-serious super-fast, with Gypsy writing on her secret Facebook account, "is it wrong to start thinking about ur wedding before ur even engaged?"
According to former FBI agent Brad Garrett, who spoke about the case with 20/20, Nick was "sort of similar" to Gypsy in that he functions at around 15-16 year old level and "did not really having a normal social interaction history."
Six years older than Gypsy, Nick struggled with mental health issues, according to his mother; he was arrested in 2013 for masturbating at a McDonald's and having a concealed knife. He also had multiple personalities, according to Gypsy in Mommy Dead and Dearest.
"At first it was all light-hearted...then as [the relationship] progressed, things got weird," Gypsy said. "He started talking about something called BDSM." Once she learned what it was, Gypsy didn't want to do it but said Nick "talked" her into it.
"I was taught that a woman's role was to be submissive and the man is dominant," she said, "so I didn't think it was that outlandish." When Nick claimed he wanted his other personalities to have their own girlfriends, Gypsy said she "made up some individual personalities to match his other personalities."
Living in different states, their relationship mostly played out online, largely involving role play. "It was deaf, dumb, blind love," Gypsy said, "and sometimes it's a bit crazy love."
That ultimately turned deadly, resulting to 10 years in prison for Gypsy and life behind bars for Nick.
In prison, Gypsy has no real access to the Internet and dating apps, with Macelli revealing Gypsy met her now-fiancé the old-fashioned way: They were pen pals, with her mystery boyfriend reaching out to her first after watching Mommy Dead and Dearest about a year and a half ago.
"He wanted to just write and tell her you know support her, be kind to her and this and that turned into a relationship through email and this pen pal situation and then he went and visited her and really that was the beginning of this friendship which turned into something more than a friendship," she revealed. "I'm not sure quite the timeline of when it became more than a friendship. I think she's keeping some things to herself so that she feels that she can control some stuff in her life for once."
And their courtship, including their decision to get engaged, was "very practical," according to Macelli. "At the beginning of this year they decided to get engaged. I don't think there was any major pomp-and-circumstance."
It's a far cry from the Bonnie & Clyde-esque turn her first relationship took.
After pleading guilty, Gypsy was sentenced to 10 years in prison in July 2016, the minimum sentence for a second-degree murder charge. She's eligible for parole in 2024, when she will be 32 years old.
While it will likely be a long engagement, her new fiancé has already started forming a connection with her family, namely her father Rod Blanchard and stepmother, Kristy Blanchard.
He hasn't officially met the parents in-person yet, but he's been talking to them via phone calls and e-mails, with Macelli telling In Touch Weekly, "They've been communicating with him for a long time...they're actually going to meet him next month."
The situation is a far cry from the first time her ex-boyfriend Nick met her mother, which ended in disaster.
She had arranged for them to officially meet at the movies during a screening of Cinderella, one of her favorite characters to dress up as, but Gypsy told ABC News it was "awful. She got jealous because I was spending a little too much attention on him. And she had ordered me to stay away from him. Needless to say that was a very long argument that lasted a couple of weeks."
In Mommy Dead and Dearest, Gypsy said Dee Dee "despised" Nick, describing him as "creepy" and "weird."
At the time, Gypsy believed she was in love with Nick, telling ABC News in January 2018 that she even thought she still loved him long after they were arrested and charged with her mother's murder.
"If you would've asked me that two years ago, I would've said I'm still in love with him," she said, "but now, I don't hate him, I feel sorry for him."
In the same special, Nick said he was "still" in love with Gypsy, who had since moved on, unbeknownst to him or the public.
Macelli revealed to E! News that Gypsy and her fiancé met a year and a half ago, likely before or around the same time as her sitdown with 20/20.
As E! News exclusively reported, Gypsy wears an engagement ring, but it was not picked out by her beau.
"Another inmate was getting divorced and gave her that so like now for her to just have," Macelli said of her temporary band, "so that she could feel good about it and then they'll go together and pick out rings, obviously later, at a time when she's out and they could do that and have their own intimate moment."
Since entering prison, Gypsy has found new hobbies, with Macelli telling E! News she has developed a passion for photography and cosmetology.
"She does all of the photography for when the inmates take pictures and things like that, she's involved with that," Macelli explained. "She's gotten into skin care and make-up and that kind of stuff."
Gypsy also took part in a program that enabled the "animal lover" to take care of dogs.
Beyond discovering passion projects, Gypsy is also finally learning essential life skills while in prison, taking classes for her GED.
"I definitely think that going in to the prison system was something positive for her in the fact that it gave her structure, and discipline, and she can have a social setting, and she can learn things, and she can get an education, and all of these different things while also working on herself and realizing that things have consequences and that's very important, she needs to learn that."
And she has a more robust social life than she ever had before entering jail as her mother almost never let Gypsy out of her sight, often calling her stuffed animals her only real friends.
"She has friends. We've gotten pictures of her with her roommate and things like that. She does have friends in prison," said Macelli. "One of her friends that left prison, she is the godmother of her daughter, so there definitely is a social life for her...which she was never afforded before."
Though she's sat down for interviews for Mommy Dead and Dearest and the 20/20 special, Macelli said Gypsy isn't quite aware of the level of media attention on her, especially with The Act's recent success renewing interest in her tragic story.
"She's told about every documentary and she knows about almost every interview that anyone does and all the different people requesting things so she does. But do I see she understands that level...really no, because she can't see it for herself. She can't see that our By Proxy page went from having 500 people following it a week ago to now it's almost 40,000 people following it. She can't see that. She's in prison so she can't get on social media, so she can't see all these articles, everything, all these people talking about her, sharing pictures...I think until she comes out and have a real world experience with it and see what it's really like, I don't think she has the concept fully in her head."
While she can't watch The Act, Gypsy and those around her are not happy with the miniseries' depiction of her story, though she does approve of Joey King portraying her. "That was someone she really liked," Macelli said. "She was very excited about Joey portraying her but she's very unhappy with the actual series itself."
After hearing about the series from a number of people, Gypsy is most upset with how Aleah, who is played by AnnaSophia Robb, is portrayed, as Gypsy is "very protective" of people.
"She heard from people about how Aleah was being portrayed and she was very upset about that because Aleah was such a positive influence for her like an older sister and she didn't like that," Macelli said. "She feels like, 'Oh well, I did what I did so I'm fair game kind of in way.' That was something that was very upsetting for her. "
Macelli, who is working on her own TV project about Gypsy's story called By Proxy, went on to call the series, "very inaccurate. It's very sensationalized, it departs in ways that I would never think that they would've needed to depart. As a writer, it's almost unethical in the way that they gone forward with it. It's totally different. It can't even really be called based on true events...it's so far from it and I don't know why it takes such liberties it doesn't make sense."
She isn't the only one upset with the project; Gypsy's beau is "not happy," as well as Dee Dee's family, according to Macelli.
"Even the way they're depicting Dee Dee is very inaccurate and very poor. They're making her out to be this person who is very sickly and declining in mental capacity and that was not the case at all."
Gypsy's supporters biggest issue with the series, which was co-created by Michelle Dean, one of the first reporters to cover the story for Buzzfeed News, are the scenes that "make it seem like Gypsy could've done more" to break free from her mother before the murder.
"They feel deceived and they feel like [Dean] had the ability to create something really great and really would've highlighted this and done it well and instead she chose to make things really insanely odd weird choices of how to depart," Macelli explained.
While Gypsy is "very unhappy" with The Act's retelling of her story, she is "flourishing" and "happy" in prison, looking forward to creating a life for herself with her fiancé after she is released from jail.
Aside from engagement ring shopping and wedding planning, Gypsy already has other ideas for what she would like to do post-prison. (Her father has started a petition calling for "any relief" for her, including a shorter sentence or relocation to a mental facility.)
"Gypsy has talked about being an advocate for children who are experiencing abuse, and possibly for people going through Munchausen by proxy," Macelli said. "She feels like it's something that people don't even know what it is. Gypsy is very adamant about wanting to come out and do something good for the community in that way. But other than that, she just wants to live a normal existence with her fiancé and have a family and be happy."
Reporting by Spencer Lubitz