In 2013, the world of television was blessed with a handful of hard-drinking, hard knock Gypsy ladies named Mellie, Nettie, Kayla, and Laura. These unique and very loud young women were filmed in their hometown of Martinsburg, West Virginia.
Their oeuvre involved screaming and hair-pulling, scratching and biting, and dressing like pre-makeover Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman (their words, not ours).
Alack and alas, all good things must come to an end. Four seasons and a lot of babies, breakups, and boozing later, the show finally came to an end.
So, how did the great empire fall? It’s time to find out with these 15 Behind-The-Scenes Secrets About TLC’s Gypsy Sisters.
15. Their big break came from a public fight
The sisters certainly are not shy about taking part in big blowout fights— emotional and physical— on their show. However, what you might not know is that the fighting was what got them the green light in the first place.
That’s right, the glorious discord that is Gypsy Sisters only came about because of the sisters’ particularly bad behavior during the filming of an episode of another TLC show which left viewers wanting more.
Four seasons of fame for Mellie, Nettie, Kayla, and Laura originally came about because of a no-holds-barred wedding brawl from 2012.
14. Grand larceny via barcode fraud at Target
Gypsy Sisters star JoAnn Wells, the sister to both Nettie and Mellie Stanley, was busted in 2014 for an elaborate coupon scam at a North Carolina Target— though what she was doing off in North Carolina puzzled even her staunchest fans.
By teaming up with some befriended cashiers at the Target in question, they were able to run fake barcodes and coupons. The result was the total amount of $14,700 in stolen savings.
JoAnn’s mother and sisters are no strangers to grand larceny and con jobs, so the police and public alike were quick to point fingers. JoAnn claims innocence, however, even after turning herself in to the police.
13. Nettie’s daughter facing jail time for child endangerment
From the way Nettie handles herself in life, it’s no wonder that her daughter got the wrong idea about how to handle herself responsibly.
After all, her mother and aunts do it all the time in their day-to-day lives and things always end up ok. What could possibly go wrong, providing a teenager with such questionable influences?
Apparently, a lot. In 2014 Nettie’s 15-year-old daughter Chastitie Mariah crashed a car into a light pole while babysitting two children. One child’s leg was shattered and the others were merely banged up.
Her mother, Nettie, took to the internet to defend her daughter and point the finger at her other child, Dallas, for putting Chastitie in that situation. Regardless, Chastitie was left facing jail time or juvie for underage driving and child endangerment.
12. Dallas marries her cousin-in-law
Even though their show is no longer filming, these girls can’t help but find a way back to the spotlight by any means necessary.
For an episode of My Big Fat American Gypsy Wedding— the show that Gypsy Sisters got its start on— Nettie’s daughter Dallas married boyfriend James in typical ludicrously lavish Gypsy wedding tradition.
There was one small problem with their blissful union, however: Jason is still technically married to Dallas’ mother’s cousin, Annie. The wedding ceremony wasn’t official, then, but James and Annie are close to finalizing their divorce.
It’s not yet known whether TLC will try to brand the wedding as a symbolic ceremony or a legal wedding. Honestly, we wouldn’t put anything past them at this point.
11. After a breakup Mellie plotted to change her daughter’s first and last names
Mellie Stanley had her daughter Divinity Rose Marie Lee in November of 2017. The father of this third child was George Lee, and after the baby’s birth the couple split up. Now, it’s not so uncommon to change a child’s last name after a breakup… but a first name?
“Well, I get to go this week and change my girls name she will no longer be Divinity and her last name will officially be Stanley,” Mellie said in a Facebook post, clarifying that the baby’s new name would be “Delaney Grace Marie Stanley.”
All of this was later called a “joke” by Mellie, however, and included a message praising the baby’s father. This was a bit suspicious– this was probably less of a “joke” than the father seeing her plot and putting the ax to it fast.
10. Annie is a convicted scam artist
Angela “Annie” Malone was arrested in January for scamming a senior citizen of Roanoke Rapids repeatedly.
The officer investigating the case, Detective Sgt. B.C. Griffin of the Halifax County Sheriff’s Office, said that Annie did some work on the property of the victim and forged the checks that they were given as payment for “outrageously high amounts.” The victim clarified that this happened several times.
According to online court records, Annie, as well as her two other accomplices Jeanette “Jett” Small and Dick “Bubba” Cooper, were arrested for the following offences: exploitation of the elderly, obtaining property by false pretense, forgery of instrument, uttering of forged instrument, and conspiracy.
9. “Black Sheep” Mellie’s many indiscretions
Gypsy sister Mellie Stanley inadvertently called her firstborn child a drunken mistake in an interview, but this wasn’t her first time in the spotlight for the wrong reasons.
Known by her sisters as well and fans as the most rebellious of the sisters, Mellie is often cited for her scalding temper. Beyond that, Mellie had a former career as a professional stripper and exotic dancer— a fact that is brought up pretty often when she is mentioned in the news or on the show.
She’s known as the “black sheep” of the family, but after her firstborn Richard Joe Whetzel Stanley was born in 2013, Mellie vowed to be a better person for her children.
8. The show was probably cancelled due to the harm of a puppy
The show was cancelled in 2015 due to allegations against one of the sisters’ husbands. These allegations declared that he was responsible for the tragic and violent death of a small puppy during an argument.
Mellie was fighting with husband Skott Vuncannon— not an uncommon occurrence, as the show can attest. Mellie mentioned later that the fight had apparently been about rent, but Vuncannon took their disagreement to a horrific new level– he grabbed Mellie’s small new puppy and threw it.
Mellie immediately called the cops who found the deceased puppy inside the house. Vuncannon was charged by police with felony animal cruelty.
“That could have been one of my babies,” she reportedly wrote on Facebook after the incident in a post that has since been deleted. “He’s never allowed back around me again … I got a [restraining order].”
7. Nettie bragged about getting her own spinoff show
Just because the cameras aren’t rolling anymore, this doesn’t mean that the drama has ended for these wild and crazy sisters.
It all came out in a Facebook post screencap of a text message conversation. Nettie posted a convo she’d been having with Firecracker Films producer Kirsty Smith. In the conversation, Smith said: “You are the star of the Gypsy Sisters so my plan is to meet with you.”
However, to add insult to injury, Nettie took it even further making doubly sure that the message got through: “Oh, and you’re not meeting Mellie, Kayla, or Annie? … I’m just curious.”
Smith told Nettie that there were no plans to meet with the others and that the executives just wanted to meet Nettie for talks about a possible spinoff. Nettie shared all of this after a bar fight between Nettie’s daughter Dallas and Annie Johnson.
6. Kayla announced engagement one day after divorce was finalized
Kayla Williams has already taken the last name of her new fiancé Douglas Cooper on Facebook. What may not be known, however, is that their divorces were finalized within hours of each other.
According to Kayla, the date for their July wedding had been set for a while but they didn’t want to announce it until after their divorces were finalized– so they waited… for only one day. Still, the intention was to not be completely tactless so that has to count for something.
The question on everybody’s mind is obviously whether they would make a TLC special out of the nuptials. The other sisters have been featured on TLC since cancellation, after all.
5. Another bridal shower brawl was set up by producers post-cancellation
A wedding-themed fight worked well enough to get them a show the first time, so it’s no surprise the Gypsy Sisters would try it again (and again and again).
The biggest fight on record since canellation happened at the bridal shower of Nettie’s daughter Nukki. The fight was related to Nettie’s other daughter Dallas, who is dating Nettie’s cousin Annie’s estranged husband.
Annie wasn’t invited to the bridal shower so that it would be less awkward, but Firecracker films (the production company who used to make their show and still makes My Big Fat American Gypsy Wedding) convinced Annie and Mellie to crash the shower.
Afterwards, Annie said that she didn’t want to do but “Firecracker kept offering us more money more money” until she agreed. They even drove them to the event. Fortunately, Nettie managed to break up the fight before it got too bloody.
4. Their mom has a huge criminal record
Mellie may get a lot of flack for her hardened rough and tumble attitude on the world, but one must keep in mind that she was forced to commit crimes with her mother— an honor her other sisters seemed to have escaped.
The sisters’ 61-year-old mother, Lottie Mae Stanley, started the Gypsy Sisters series after a nine-year prison sentence for bank fraud in 2004. This conviction came in the wake of a number of other cons.
“She is one of the smoothest talkers you will ever run into,” Detective Vince Chalecki from Sugarcreek Township Police said about Lottie, who was even featured on American’s Most Wanted in 2003! According to Enquirer, she taught Mellie everything she knew.
3. Mellie’s traumatic love life
Mellie’s had some horrible experiences with love. She had a near-death experience with her abusive ex-husband Danny, who she married at 16. Danny reportedly locked her into their trailer home.
However, the stakes were higher than they seemed: “I knew I was dead. I knew if he got his hands on me that that would be the end of me.” She escaped the incident with a severe beating but her life still intact.
Unbelievably, her family members were the ones to convince her to take him back. “That was the Gypsy tradition; you have to stick it out,” she said.
When she finally did get way, her second husband (who she married three years after the first) wanted her to have an abortion so he beat her in her sleep.
After all of that trauma, Mellie never pressed charges against her former husbands. “Gypsies don’t believe in that,” she said. Luckily Mellie no longer has any fear about getting out of toxic marriages, as a recent one only lasted six days.
2. Nettie’s stepson was murdered
Huey “Rocky” Stanley, stepson of Nettie, was stabbed to death in 2015 after a nighttime fight in a YMCA parking lot.
Kingsport PD in Tennessee said that the 22-year-old (who never appeared on the show Gypsy Sisters) got into an altercation over a basketball game. Though he was rushed to the ER, he died of his injuries shortly after being brought in.
The murder weapon was recovered by police and their lead suspect, Zachary Morris Gardner, turned himself over to the police the following morning. He was charged with first degree murder. One year after the event, the jury found Rocky not guilty by reason of self-defense.
The Stanley family was reportedly so upset by the verdict that they had to be escorted from the courtroom by police officers.
1. Sister vs sister fights
This group of chaotic sisters got their big break due to some footage of a wedding cat fight. The fight showed women on the floor pulling hair and grabbing throats.
Looking back on the event, it’s not exactly surprising, either. After all, such fights certainly explain quite a lot about the dynamic between the sisters and the way their families deal with conflict.
Pick any episode at random and you’ll see that the fights range from the verbal to the physical, and usually end up featuring both. The thesis statement to the complex social politics of this unconventional family is usually distilled down to an incidence of shouting and slapping.
It seems like these sisters can’t get enough of the fighting and constant bickering, as it happens all the time.
Can you think of any other dark secrets about TLC’s Gypsy Sisters? Let us know in the comments.
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