Who is Joseph Oberhansley? Indiana man who allegedly killed ex-girlfriend and ate her organs faces new trial
Investigators discovered a plate with what appeared to be skull bone and blood on it and a pair of tongs with blood. The victim was found with parts of her heart, lungs and brain missing
JEFFERSONVILLE, INDIANA: A Jeffersonville man who allegedly murdered his ex-girlfriend and ate parts of her body now faces a new trial after the first ended in a mistrial on its first day.
As the new trial began for 39-year-old Joseph Oberhansley, who is charged with the murder, rape and abuse of the corpse of Tammy Jo Blanton in her Indiana home, prosecutors described the evidence against him as "worse than a horror movie". “Six years ago that lady met a fate that’s very difficult to describe," Clark County Prosecutor Jeremy Mull said on Friday, September 11, in his opening remarks. "And she met that fate at the hands of this man, Joseph Oberhansley."
Jurors were warned that photos and evidence they'd see during the trial would be "worse than anything you would see in a horror movie." On the other hand, defense attorney Bart Betteau asked jurors to keep in mind that "emotional evidence" wasn't relevant to the facts.
Oberhansley had been Blanton's boyfriend and he was present at her Jeffersonville home on the day of the murder. After receiving a call from concerned co-workers who were worried that Blanton hadn't shown up for work, officers responded to her house and found her dismembered body in the tub, covered with a tent. Oberhansley admitted to killing her, according to court records, before eating several of her organs.
The 46 year-old victim had called Jeffersonville Police just before 3 am on the day of the incident and reported that Oberhansley was trying to break into her house. After finding Oberhansley at the home of the victim, the responding officer made him leave that night but according to Mull's statement, he returned later, parking his car several blocks away to avoid being detected.
He then made his way back to the house and allegedly slaughtered Blanton using an electric saw to open her skull. Blanton's corpse was discovered with parts of her skull removed.
At the crime scene, the investigators also discovered a “plate with what appeared to be skull bone and blood” on it and a pair of tongs with blood on them in the bin. An autopsy revealed she died from multiple stab wounds and parts of her heart, lungs and brain were missing.
Oberhansley faces life in prison if convicted. The jury was brought in from Allen County, in northwest Indiana, as the case has been highly publicized. Oberhansley was declared unfit to stand trial in late 2017 and was taken to Indiana's Logansport State Hospital for more than a year before he was declared competent in November 2018.
At the time of the murder, Oberhansley was on parole for fatally shooting his 17-year-old girlfriend Sabrina Elder in 1988 in a drug-fueled jealous rage. He also shot his mother and shot at his sister before turning the gun on himself and shooting under his chin to give himself a "partial lobotomy". The prosecution and defense have reached an agreement to take the death penalty off the table if Oberhansley’s legal team agreed not to use insanity as a defense.
In August 2019, the original trial against Oberhansley began in Clark County Circuit Court but a mistrial was declared after a witness spoke about the suspect's criminal history, which was deemed inadmissible.