Ind. Man Accused of Killing Ex, Eating Her Organs Is Back on Trial After 2019 Mistrial
A new trial for the Indiana man accused of raping and killing his ex-girlfriend — and then eating her organs — is underway after his first trial was declared a mistrial in 2019.
On Sept. 11, 2014, the bloody, mutilated body of Tammy Jo Blanton, 46, was found in the bathtub of her Jeffersonville home, where she’d been raped and stabbed at least 25 times, police said at the time.
Blanton had just broken up with her boyfriend, Joseph Oberhansley, 38.
Oberhansley was arrested that morning and charged with murder, burglary and rape.
He allegedly confessed to consuming parts of Blanton’s heart, lungs and brain, Clark County Prosecuting Attorney Jeremy Mull previously told PEOPLE.
In 2017, Oberhansley was deemed incompetent to stand trial, a decision that was reversed in 2018.
When Oberhansley’s first trial began in 2019, a statement by a witness for the prosecution led the judge to declare a mistrial.
The witness, Blanton’s friend Donna Victoria, testified that Blanton didn't call police after an incident between her and Oberhansley because she “didn’t want him to go back to prison,” the Courier Journal reported at the time.
This was ruled inadmissible by Clark County Circuit Judge Vicki Carmichael. Defense attorney Bart Betteau said the comments would prejudice jurors against his client, reported the Courier Journal.
On Monday, during Oberhansley's new trial, officers who responded to a welfare check on Blanton in 2014 took the stand, local station WAVE reports.
One said that when officers arrived at Blanton’s home, they found Oberhansley outside and that he seemed “nervous,” local station WAVE reports.
They testified that Oberhansley was arrested after he refused to let officers pat him down. Officers found a bloody knife in his pocket afterward, they said.
One of the officers testified that she entered the home and found the back door kicked in, “as if someone had forced their way in,” WAVE reports.
She found a trail of blood throughout the house, tools on top of a tarp – and Blanton’s mangled body in the bathroom.
“There was blood everywhere,” the officer testified, WAVE reports.
A second officer testified that part of her skull was missing, the News and Tribune reports.
“It’s worse than anything you’d see in a horror movie,” Clark County Prosecutor Jeremy Mull said last week, according to WAVE.
A third officer testified that Oberhansley “began to beat his chest while panting” after he was placed in a padded cell that day after his arrest, the News and Tribune reports.
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One of Blanton’s co-workers, Tessa Shepherd, testified about the troubled nature of Blanton's relationship with Oberhansley. Blanton had told her that Oberhansley had repeatedly raped her the weekend before she was killed, the News and Tribune reports.
On the night before Blanton’s body was found, Shepherd said she called Blanton, who told her she changed her locks after breaking up with Oberhansley, the News and Tribune reports.
Blanton called 911 at about 3 a.m. that morning because Oberhansley was “beating on her back door and refused to leave,” according to earlier testimony, the News and Tribune reports.
At the time of the arrest for Blanton's murder, Oberhansley was on parole following a conviction for a previous killing that occurred when he was a teenager.
In 2000, according to court records cited by the Courier Journal, Oberhansley was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to 12 years in a Utah prison for shooting and killing his child’s mother while in a “meth rage.”
His attorney did not immediately return PEOPLE’s calls for comment.
He faces life in prison without parole if convicted.
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