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JEFFERSONVILLE, Ind. – An Indiana man who was found incompetent to stand trial multiple times over the past six years was sentenced Tuesday to life in prison, without the possibility of parole, for killing and cannibalizing his former girlfriend in 2014.

Joseph Albert Oberhansley, 39, of Jeffersonville, was found guilty last month of murder and burglary in the Sept. 11, 2014, killing of Tammy Joe Blanton. Oberhansley has maintained his innocence in the murder, telling reporters that two Black men killed Blanton, 46, inside her home.

Oberhansley confessed the day of the murder, however, to killing Blanton and eating parts of her body, authorities have said. Blanton suffered more than 25 stab wounds, along with multiple blunt force injuries, according to The Associated Press.

Oberhansley, who was the sole witness for the defense, testified that he was suffering from head injuries when he confessed to killing Blanton. He claimed that the men who killed her knocked him unconscious and that he awoke only when police arrived at Blanton’s door several hours later.

“I was totally out of my head,” Oberhansley said on the stand.

Clark County prosecutor Jeremy Mull told jurors that assailants would not have violently killed Blanton but left Oberhansley unharmed.

“We all know they didn’t do that,” Mull said, according to the AP. “We all know Joseph Oberhansley killed Tammy Blanton.”

Oberhansley was found guilty of murder and burglary, but jurors found him not guilty of rape.

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The News and Tribune in Jeffersonville reported that Blanton had confided in friends that Oberhansley had held her captive the weekend before her death and raped her multiple times. She addressed the allegations in texts with Blanton days before her killing.

“You can choose to be in denial about what happened Saturday into Sunday. I won’t be in denial,” Blanton wrote, according to the newspaper. “No one, and I mean no one, gets to terrify me like you did on Sunday. I will never forget it as long as I live.”

Oberhansley’s response was apologetic, the News and Tribune reported. He asked Blanton to “come to him.”

Blanton responded by telling him to get his things out of her home before she went to the police. She threatened to file rape and criminal confinement charges.

“I don’t want to involve the police but if you leave me no choice, that is what I will have to do,” Blanton texted.

Blanton stayed with a friend the Monday and Tuesday nights, going home on Wednesday only after her father had changed her locks.

She was killed and mutilated Thursday morning, the paper reported.

Blanton had texted a friend on Sept. 10 that she’d locked all her windows and placed a chair under the knob of her back door.

“At the end of the day, I’m taking my life back,” read the text. “I worked too hard to get here. NO ONE WILL TAKE ME DOWN.”

Blanton is not the first person Oberhansley has killed. According to the Deseret News, a then-18-year-old Oberhansley walked into his grandmother’s Utah home on Dec. 9, 1998, and fatally shot his girlfriend, Sabrina Elder.

Elder, 17, had given birth to their child days before.

Oberhansley, who was high on meth, then shot his mother in the back before shooting himself in the head. According to the News, he was under “severe emotional distress” following the recent death of his father and the suicide of his brother.

A bullet remains in Oberhansley’s frontal lobe, the newspaper reported. According to Oberhansley’s defense attorney in that case, the injury to his brain made him a calmer person.

Oberhansley pleaded guilty in 2000 to manslaughter and attempted murder and spent more than a decade in a Utah prison before being released in 2012. He was on parole at the time of Blanton’s killing.

He was facing additional felony charges, including one for strangulation stemming from a March 2013 incident at a Jeffersonville bar, when Blanton was slain. Mull, who handled the 2013 case, had requested that Oberhansley be held in lieu of $25,000 cash bail.

Another prosecutor, who has since resigned, agreed to a reduction of the bail to $5,000. Oberhansley was able to post the 10%, or $500, required to be freed.

I felt he was dangerous, I was right, he was,” Mull told WAVE in Louisville after Blanton’s killing. “And he was released without my knowledge. That devastates me.”

Oberhansley was arrested again two months before the murder following a police chase into Kentucky. Blanton bailed him out that time, the news station reported.

Editor’s note: The following story contains graphic details.

“I want you to look me in the eye and tell me you did not do this,” Blanton’s mother said to Oberhansley during Tuesday’s sentencing hearing, according to the News and Tribune. “You’re just pure evil, and you’re just lucky to be able to live out your life breathing.”

Oberhansley countered that he is a “highly religious man,” the newspaper reported. He and Blanton’s mother argued back and forth until the judge ordered Oberhansley to stop speaking to her.

Another family member of the victim said Oberhansley showed no remorse for taking Blanton’s life, a killing that she said has devastated the family.

“Tammy Jo couldn’t fix you,” the woman said. “You are a monster. Rot in hell.”

According to a probable cause affidavit in the case, Blanton called 911 at 2:52 a.m. to report that her ex-boyfriend was outside trying to get in, and that he would not leave. Officers responded to the call and found Oberhansley outside.

Oberhansley claimed he lived at the house but said his key would not work. When he produced his identification, it listed a different address.

Tammy Jo Blanton murder

The home where Tammy Jo Blanton, 46, was slain and cannibalized Sept. 11, 2014, in Jeffersonville, Ind., is pictured in a July 2019 Street View image. Blanton’s ex-boyfriend, Joseph Oberhansley, was sentenced Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2020, to life in prison for her murder.

“He expressed agitation with not being able to get into the home and repeatedly complained that police always side with women,” Detective Todd Hollis wrote in the affidavit.

When an officer spoke with Blanton, she explained that she’d broken up with Oberhansley and changed the locks on her home. She asked the officers to make him leave.

The officers watched as Oberhansley drove away in a white 2002 Chevy Blazer, according to the affidavit. They remained on the scene for several minutes to ensure that Oberhansley had left.

Oberhansley’s mother, Brenda Lee Self, later told detectives that Oberhansley walked into her bedroom at her home around 3:30 a.m. that day, complaining about his relationship with Blanton and the fact that she had changed her locks. Oberhansley was also upset over his finances and his job, she said.

“When Oberhansley went outside to his vehicle, she followed and sat with him in the vehicle for several minutes to speak with him further,” Hollis wrote. “After their conversation, Oberhansley left in his vehicle, alone.”

When Blanton failed to show up for work later that morning across the Ohio River in Louisville, Kentucky, co-workers became worried and called her cellphone. A man claiming to be her brother answered the phone and said she had gone to care for her sick father.

“(The friend) did not believe that the man answering Blanton’s phone was her brother,” the affidavit states. “(She) then called Jeffersonville police and requested a welfare check by officers at Blanton’s home.”

Officers who went to Blanton’s house shortly after 10 a.m. found her vehicle in the driveway and signs of forced entry at her back door.

Oberhansley met the officers at the door.

“He identified himself as Joe but said he did not have identification,” Hollis wrote. “He told officers that Blanton was not at home and he did not know her whereabouts.”

The officers ordered Oberhansley outside to the front of the home, where they saw fresh injuries to his right hand. When they searched him for weapons, they found a folding knife in his pocket.

The knife had blood and hair on it, the affidavit states.

While her colleagues detained Oberhansley, Jeffersonville police Officer Connie Viers went inside to check on Blanton. She confirmed that the back door had been broken into and found blood on several surfaces in the house.

“There was blood everywhere,” Viers testified at Oberhansley’s trial.

The bathroom door had also been forced open, the affidavit states.

Viers went back outside after noticing a large amount of blood in the bathroom, along with a large vinyl camping tent draped over the bathtub.

Accompanied by other officers, she returned to the home to secure the scene. Capt. Mike Pavey went into the bathroom, where he found Blanton dead in the tub.

“The front of the victim’s skull appeared to have been crushed, and brain tissue appeared scattered around the bathtub,” Hollis wrote.

Read the probable cause affidavit below.

Joseph Oberhansley Probable Cause Affidavit by National Content Desk on Scribd

Oberhansley was taken into custody for questioning and a search warrant was executed at the scene. A deputy coroner examined Blanton’s body and found injuries to her face, head, neck and chest.

Many of the cuts were deep, including a “full-thickness cut” spanning almost the entirety of her neck.

“A large section of the front of her skull was removed,” the affidavit states. “A large portion of the victim’s brain was missing.”

An examination of the cuts to Blanton’s chest showed that her heart was also missing from her body.

Parts of her brain were found in the bathtub, along with part of the skull, and in a trash can, Hollis wrote.

“A plate with what appeared to be skull bone and blood was found in the kitchen,” according to the document. “A skillet and a pair of tongs with blood on the handles were found on top of the stove.

“The cooking surface of the skillet was blackened with a void in the middle where the cooked material had been removed.”

In the front bedroom of the home, police found several trash bags containing Oberhansley’s belongings. One of Blanton’s friends told detectives he’d talked to her the night before about her relationship troubles and suggested she pack up Oberhansley’s things and put them on the porch for him to retrieve.

When investigators questioned Oberhansley, he initially claimed not to know Blanton had been killed. Eventually, he admitted to breaking into her house and into the bathroom, where she had locked herself away after he broke in.

Oberhansley admitted killing Blanton with the knife found in his pocket.

“He also admitted to mutilating her body, using a jigsaw to cut open her skull, remove a portion of her brain and eat it raw,” Hollis wrote. “He further admitted to cooking a section of her brain and eating it.”

A bloody jigsaw and jigsaw blade were recovered from the crime scene.

When Oberhansley was asked what happened to Blanton’s heart, he confessed to eating it, along with part of one of her lungs.

Blanton’s autopsy confirmed the missing body parts.

Questions about Oberhansley’s mental competency have plagued the case from the start. According to the Louisville Courier Journal, Oberhansley told police that he could hear Blanton’s thoughts and that she planned to cut off his head.

He also complained during court appearances that his attorneys were “trying to control (his) mind.”

A judge in October 2017 found him incompetent to stand trial and ordered him held at the Logansport State Hospital, the AP reported. In July 2018, he was determined to have regained competency following treatment.

Oberhansley’s first trial ended in a mistrial in August 2019 after a witness for the prosecution mentioned alleged drug use by Oberhansley. The witness also testified that Blanton hesitated to call police after the alleged weekend rape and confinement because she didn’t want to send him back to prison.

Jurors were not supposed to hear testimony about either drug use or Oberhansley’s prior criminal history because those details could have prejudiced the panel against him, WAVE in Louisville reported.