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Sunday, November 26, 2023

The Joseph Oberhansley Murder Case

     On Wednesday night September 10, 2014, Tammy Jo Blanton, following an argument with her boyfriend Joseph Oberhansley, threw him and his belongings out of her house. A few hours later Blanton's father changed the locks on her Jeffersonville, Indiana dwelling.

     The next day at three in the morning Tammy Blanton called 911. Her 33-year-old ex-boyfriend had returned and was trying to break into her house by kicking in the back door. Police in the southern Indiana town confronted Oberhansley at the Locus Street residence.

     Instead of taking Joseph Oberhansley into custody for attempted burglary and threats, officers ordered him off the property and told him to stay away from his former girlfriend. Oberhansley, just before he drove off in his 2002 Chevrolet Blazer, complained to the officers that the police aways favored the woman in domestic disputes.

     From his 46-year-old ex-girlfriend's home, Oberhansley drove to his mother's place. He got her out of bed and complained about his mistreatment at the hands of Tammy Blanton and the police officers his ex-girlfriend had summoned. He left his mother's home at three-thirty that morning.

     The Jeffersonville police must have known that Joseph A. Oberhansley was an unstable and dangerous man. In 1998, outside of Salt Lake City, Utah, shortly after Sabrina Elder, Oberhansley's 17-year-old girlfriend gave birth to their child, he shot her to death. He shot the victim's mother in the back and in the arm when she tried to protect her daughter. The mother survived her wounds.

     After shooting his girlfriend and her mother Joseph Oberhansley put the gun to his head and pulled the trigger. The bullet entered his frontal lobe and damaged his brain. A year later he pleaded guilty to manslaughter and was sent to prison. He got out of prison in 2012 after spending eleven years behind bars.

     In March 2013, after putting a man into a chokehold and fighting the Jeffersonville police when they broke up the fight, a Clark County prosecutor charged Oberhansley with assault and resisting arrest. He posted his bail and was released from the county jail.

     In July 2014 Mr. Oberhansley led Jeffersonville police officers on a vehicle chase that ended up with his arrest in Louisville, Kentucky. Due to a bureaucratic screwup the judge set Oberhansley's bail at $500. Once again Oberhansley walked out of jail a free man.

     On Friday September 11, 2014 when Tammy Jo Blanton did not show up for work, the police, at ten o'clock that morning returned to her house. They were met at the door by Oberhansley who had a fresh cut across the knuckles of his right hand. Officers searching him found a bloody folding knife in his back pocket.

     Officers discovered Tammy Jo Blanton's body beneath a vinyl camping tent draped over the bathtub. She had been stabbed numerous times in the chest and head. Her killer had also slashed her throat. Her torso had been cut open and several of her internal organs were missing.

     Officers at the murder scene found a piece of skull sitting on a bloody dinner plate. A kitchen skillet contained traces of blood as did the handle to a pair of tongs. Searchers found hunks of human flesh in the victim's garbage can.

     Confronted with this physical evidence of horrific violence, Joseph Oberhansley confessed that he had stabbed and slashed his ex-girlfriend. He cut out her heart, her lungs and other internal organs that he claimed to have eaten. Some of the body parts he cooked, others he consumed raw.

      Charged with murder, abuse of corpse and breaking and entering, Mr. Oberhansley appeared before Clark County Judge Vickie Carmichael on September 15, 2014. At the arraignment hearing the defendant took back his confession. "Obviously you've got the wrong guy," he told the judge. Moreover, he claimed that he was not Joseph Oberhansley but a man named Zeus Brown. The suspect also asserted that he didn't know how old he was or if he were a U.S. citizen. The judge denied him bail.

     To reporters after the arraignment, Clark County prosecutor Jeremy Mull said, "There's a motive and a reason behind Oberhansley's denial of guilt. There's no doubt in my mind he is responsible for Tammy Jo Blanton's murder."

     On March 8, 2017, Clark County Circuit Judge Vicki Carmichael, pursuant to a defense motion declaring the defendant mentally incompetent to stand trial, ordered additional psychiatric examinations of the accused killer. These examinations were to be conducted by mental health experts selected by the court, not by parties to the case. At the time Oberhansley was receiving psychiatric treatment at the Logansport State Hospital in Logansport, Indiania.

     In October 2017, after the testimony of three mental health experts, Judge Carmichael ruled that Oberhansley was unfit to stand trial. However, on August 9, 2018, after an Indiana state psychiatrist testified that the defendant was mentally competent, Judge Carmichael ruled that the murder trial could go forward. 
     On September 18, 2020, after six days of testimony the Clark County jury found Joseph Oberhansley guilty of murder and burglary. Judge Carmichael sentenced him to life in prison. 
     The criminal justice system had failed to protect Tammy Jo Blanton.


  1. This case is as bad as it gets. Eleven years for killing his girlfriend and so grievously wounding her mother!! I can't even imagine the pain and suffering that this woman has and will continue to endure, not just for her injuries but for the death of her daughter. This guy being released after only eleven years is the reason why Tammi Jo Blanton is dead.

    1. Joseph killed his seventeen year old girlfriend by shooting her in the face while she was breastfeeding their 5 day old child. He then shot HIS OWN MOTHER and then shot himself. They should have locked him away at 18 years old. Instead, he’ll stand trial for murder, if convicted will not get the death penalty, and jurors will not hear about his previous crime. This isn’t justice. It’s ridiculous.

  2. It was his mother that he shot in the original incident. Nonetheless, it unfortunately doesn't change the fact that two families are left without their daughter/ mother/ loved one.

    I live in Southern Indiana and, before moving to my current home seven years ago, I lived in Jeffersonville (where this took place). I'm grateful that I never ran into this monster- that I'm aware of. What he did is so grotesque and horrifying... It's hard to even wrap my mind around.