JEFFERSONVILLE — In six-year-old police interviews, played Tuesday for the jury in a Clark County murder trial, defendant Joseph Oberhansley can be heard admitting to detectives that he ate parts of the victim.
While this information has come up before in the case through court records, it’s not something he was ever formally accused of by the state through charges.
In the Sept. 11, 2014, death of 46-year-old Tammy Jo Blanton, Oberhansley was originally charged with murder, a level 6 felony for residential entry, and a level 6 felony for abuse of a corpse. The latter charge included that he had mutilated the victim, removing part of her skull and organs. The charges were later amended to murder, a level 3 felony for rape and a level 4 felony for burglary, for which he is being tried.
Police responded just before 10 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 11, 2014, to Blanton’s home in the 300 block of Locust Street in Jeffersonville, after a co-worker became concerned when Blanton failed to arrive at work. Several responding officers testified earlier in the trial that Oberhansley had answered the door, and that he appeared to have blood on his knuckle and a knife with blood and hair on it in his pocket.
In a search of the house, Blanton’s body was found mutilated in the bathtub. Evidence collected included clothing and DNA samples from Blanton and Oberhansley, DNA and swabs of other places in the home where what appeared to be blood was found, photos of evidence, including bloody towels, utensils, cookware, tools and a plate with what police say was flesh.
The two interviews — a roughly three-hour video interview of Oberhansley by Jeffersonville detectives Isaac Parker and Sam Moss and a roughly 10-minute audio interview with Oberhansley at the Clark County jail — were the bulk of evidence presented at trial Tuesday.
Early into the video interview, which was conducted shortly after Blanton’s body was found, Oberhansley tells the investigators that the house on Locust Street is his and that Blanton stays with her father and sometimes friends from work. He said he didn’t know where she was and hadn’t seen her in two days.
“I don’t know where she is, sir,” Oberhansley said. “I haven’t seen her. Last time I seen her was the other day...probably about two days ago.”
The state previously entered evidence that showed the house in Blanton’s name. Earlier testimony also showed that Blanton had stayed with a friend from work the Monday and Tuesday before her death on Thursday, after telling a friend Oberhansley had raped her the previous weekend. The friend testified that Blanton returned to her home Wednesday after having the locks changed. Testimony showed Oberhansley had gone to her work that Tuesday.
At some point during continued questioning, Parker asks, “So you don’t know Tammy’s dead?” to which the defendant says that’s the first he’s heard of it. In the same interview, Oberhansley later says when he went to the home “to try to talk some sense into her,” there were two men there and that one stabbed and killed Blanton. He further said he believed they were planning to cut off his head and eat his brain.
“She set me up,” he said.
Oberhansley at first can be heard saying he had removed and eaten part of her brain, cooking a portion, since “she was already dead,” he said in the interview, although maintaining that it was two other men who had killed her.
He later admitted to breaking the back door and also the door to the bathroom, where Blanton was hiding, stabbing and killing her, court records show.
In the subsequent interview at the jail, Parker can be heard asking Oberhansley about her other organs.
“Where’s Tammy’s heart?” he asked.
“I ate it,” he said. “...It’s part of me now.”
Court was expected to resume Wednesday morning.
NOTE: While the jury, judges, attorneys, defendant and court and sheriff’s office staff are present in the courtroom, it is closed to the public and to media, but streamed live at https://public.courts.in.gov/incs#/. When there, select Clark County Circuit Court 4.