During opening statements in an Indiana courthouse on Wednesday, prosecutors said a man accused of murder mutilated his ex-girlfriend days after she broke up with him, then ate her body parts.
“Joseph Oberhansley butchered Tammy Blanton like you wouldn’t kill a livestock animal,” Clark County Prosecutor Jeremy Mull told jurors Wednesday morning. “But this lady died with dignity.”
Courier Journal reports that Oberhansley, 38, is accused of killing 46-year-old Tammy Jo Blanton inside her Jefferson, Indiana, home in 2014. Authorities found Tammy in her bathtub with 25 stab wounds and blunt force injuries on her mouth, throat, chest, and fingers.
According to Mull, an enraged Oberhansley kicked down Tammy’s bathroom door after she locked herself inside while fleeing from him. Oberhansley raped the victim, Mull said, then held her captive while he viciously mutilated her.
When Tammy failed to show up to work, police arrived at her home on September 11, 2014, for a welfare check, and found Oberhansley inside. The suspect claimed his ex wasn’t there and said he didn’t know where she could be, according to News and Tribune.
A man accused of murdering an Indiana woman and eating parts of her body is on trial.
His defense attorney calls him a "crazy person." https://t.co/BymmYGfHi2
— WIS News 10 (@wis10) August 22, 2019
Investigators searched the home, however, and found Tammy’s lifeless body in her bathtub with several parts of her major organs missing.
Police arrested Oberhansley, who later told investigators that he broke into Tammy’s home after she changed the locks, stabbed her to death, then used an electric jigsaw to remove parts of heart, brain, and a lung, according to prosecutors. Oberhansley said he then ate the body parts he cut out.
For years, Oberhansley has been receiving treatment for mental issues, thus delaying the trial, but a judge found him competent earlier this year. While heading into the courtroom on Wednesday, Oberhansley blurted out that two black men killed Tammy.
“State prosecution knows I’m not guilty in this case that’s why they dropped the death penalty. Two black male suspects broke into the house and killed Tammy.”
— Rachael Krause (@RKrauseWAVE) August 22, 2019
During opening statements, Oberhansley interrupted Mull several times, accusing the prosecutor of failing to provide proof.
Mull was not deterred. He told jurors Tammy decided to “take back her life” after breaking up with the defendant. She moved back into her own home after hiding out at a friend’s house, then changed her locks and tried to start a new life for herself without fear.
Mull also explained how the defendant previously told investigators that while killing Tammy, “she really wasn’t all that scared.”
“In her last moments, she wasn’t going to give him the pleasure of seeing her scared,” Mull said.
Meanwhile, the defense pushed for jurors to keep an “open mind” and look at the details of Oberhansley’s reported mental issues.
“We believe his decision making was the result of his mental illness, and we believe that makes this process unfair,” defense attorney Brent Westerfeld said. “You know, when a crazy person is deciding what his defense is, that’s a problem in our mind under the constitution.”
Judge Vicki Carmichael told jurors to weigh in all evidence in the upcoming days, in order to truly decide if Oberhansley is guilty “beyond a reasonable doubt.”
The jury has been sequestered during the trial.
Check back for further updates.
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[Feature Photo: Tammy Blanton/Handout; Joseph Oberhansley/Police Handout]