Man convicted in murder, cannibalism case sentenced to life

Updated: Oct. 13, 2020 at 11:34 PM EDT
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Joseph Oberhansley, 36, was sentenced to life without parole for the September 11, 2014 murder...
Joseph Oberhansley, 36, was sentenced to life without parole for the September 11, 2014 murder of Tammy Jo Blanton.(Source: Miles Jackson, WAVE 3 News)
Tammy Jo Blanton
Tammy Jo Blanton

JEFFERSONVILLE, Ind. (WAVE) - The man convicted of killing his ex-girlfriend and eating parts of her body has been sentenced to spend the rest of his life behind bars.

Joseph Oberhansley, 36, learned his sentence for the September 11, 2014 murder of Tammy Jo Blanton this afternoon in Clark Circuit Court. He was convicted on Sept. 18 on murder and burglary charges, but was found not guilty of rape.

The life sentence will run without parole. He also was sentenced to six years on the burglary charge. The sentences will run concurrently.

Oberhansley continued to claim his innocence as he walked into and exited the Clark County courtroom Tuesday.

“I am 100 percent not guilty of these false charges against me. I am disappointed in the decision,” Oberhansley said. “I did not kill Tammy Blanton. It was two Black guys.”

Blanton’s body was found by officers who went to her home to perform a welfare check after co-workers became concerned when she didn’t show up for work. Officers had been to the home around 3 a.m. on a domestic disturbance call. At that time, Blanton told the officers she had changed the locks and wanted Oberhansley to leave her property. The officers later testified to watching Oberhansley leave.

When officers returned later for the welfare check they found Oberhansley outside looking “nervous.” Police said Oberhansley was non-compliant to a pat down search and was arrested. A bloody knife was found in his pocket. Blood was found throughout the house. Blanton’s body was found in the bathtub.

Defense attorney Bart Beatteu said he knew this day was coming but he was still disappointed in the results.

“We don’t feel that justice was served here,” Beatteu said. “We don’t feel that that’s appropriate for him. This was a mental illness case from the beginning, and so to say that we are troubled by how it came out is an understatement.”

After the judge announced the sentence, the mother and sister-in-law of Tammy Blanton addressed Oberhansley for the first time inside the courtroom. Her sister-in-law told him he deserves to sit in a cell for the rest of his life.

“Tammy Jo couldn’t fix you,” she said. “No one can. You are a monster. Rot in hell.”

Oberhansley responded to her, saying he loved Tammy and what happened to her was horrible, but said he did not kill her.

Blanton’s mother looked him in the eyes and told him he had taken so much from so many people and he didn’t care.

Both Blanton’s mother and sister-in-law called him evil and told him he took the life of someone they loved.

Prosecutor Jeremy Mull says he hopes that was the start of the healing process for the family.

“It was just very poignant watching the family finally have an opportunity to have a say, finally be able to address him-- Oberhansley-- and just express to him their feelings about him and what he did,” Mull said. “The system has just swung so far in the wrong direction in making the proceeding about the defendant’s rights and not about the justice that is due to the victim and the family. So as the prosecutor, I really like that point in time when justice accrues to the family members, to the victim and we get to talk about justice and not the rights of the defendant. That happened today.”

Addressing reporters following the verdict, Oberhansley said he is not guilty of Blanton’s murder and the charges against him won’t stand. He repeated previous statements he has made since his arrest that Blanton was killed by two men who broke into her house.

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