Brenda Self, mother of accused killer Joseph Oberhansley, claims her son is not actually a violent man. Oberhansley is charged with the death of his fiance, 46-year-old Tammy Jo Blanton, a crime to which he has admitted to law enforcement. Self claims a self-inflicted bullet wound in his head is responsible for her son’s mental health issues. Joseph Oberhansley is accused of and admitted to police that he murdered his 46-year-old fiancée Tammy Jo Blanton and then ate parts of her organs. Oberhansley’s past reveals a dark, troubled history of violence and encounters with law enforcement.
Clark County’s chief deputy prosecutor told an NBC affiliate that Oberhansley should have been in jail the night he allegedly murdered and cannibalized Tammy Jo Blanton. A fellow prosecutor agreed to reduce Joseph Oberhansley’s from $25,000 full cash, to $5,000 with the ability to post 10 percent. With $500, Oberhansley was a free man.
“I felt he was dangerous, I was right, he was,” prosecutor Jeremy Mull told WFPL Radio. “And he was released without my knowledge. That devastates me.”
Joseph Oberhansley’s mother told WFPL that her son’s mental health issues began in 1997 when Oberhansley’s half-brother and father died just weeks apart. Self claims that, since those deaths, her son has battled mental health issues and drug addiction. Norma Dodge, Joseph Oberhansley’s grandmother, said that Oberhansley frequently carried around his father’s ashes, according to a 1999 report from Deseret News. Oberhansley half-brother apparently committed suicide, and his father’s death was considered suspicious.
Oberhansley was on parole until this summer for a manslaughter conviction in Utah. Prosecutor Jeremy Mull believed he should have never been granted freedom, considering that before his parole period was over, Oberhansley had four encounters with Indiana police.
Oberhansley,who is only 33-years-old, spent almost 12 years in a Utah Prison after he killed Sabrina Elder. Elder, his 17-year-old ex-girlfriend, had just given birth to a child days before. Oberhansley, according to Deseret News, worried that the baby was not his. At that time, he also shot his mother, but she survived. After killing Elder and shooting his mother, Joseph Oberhansley attempted suicide. He shot himself in his frontal lobe. Amanda Thomas, Oberhansley’s purported girlfriend when he killed Sebrina Elder, said that he often talked about killing Elder when he was high, but she didn’t take him seriously.
“He’s going to get out in five to seven years to do it again,” Sabrina’s grandfather, Alfred Irmer, told Deseret News in 2000, “They didn’t give us our day in court.”
At his sentencing for the killing of Elder, Oberhansley spoke of his love for victim and asked her family for forgiveness.
“I’d give my life for hers,” Oberhansley said at the March 2000 sentencing. “I will take responsibility for my acts, not only today, but for every day until I die.”
At the trial for that killing, Oberhansley’s attorney, Ronald Yengich, claimed that when Oberhansley shot himself, he inflicted a wound that might be considered “beneficial.” The defense claimed his gunshot wound would make him a calmer person. Yengich told WFPL that Oberhansley’s doctors said the gun shot to the brain and the surgery that followed would lead to less aggressive behavior. Oberhansley’s mother and grandmother were resistant to helping the prosecutor at that trial, though they were eye witnesses. The family’s resistance led the prosecutor at that trial to fear he wouldn’t get a conviction for first-degree murder, so a plea bargain was offered.
“I know that I felt very sorry for him,” the defense lawyer told WFPL. “It was one of those cases where you couldn’t either read the reports or deal with the people in that case without feeling a great deal of sorrow.”
That same self-inflicted injury is what Oberhansley’s mother blames for his extreme mental illness.
“He has a bullet in his own head, wouldn’t you have some mental health issues?” Self asked.
Oberhansley had an Interstate Compact parole agreement. This agreement allowed him to relocate closer to his family during his parole period. His parole was then supervised by local authorities in Indiana. His parole expired in July 2014; however, while on parole, he had multiple issues that should have raised major red flags, according to authorities.
The most serious offense during Oberhansley’s parole period stems from an incident in a bar last year. That incident is the one most concerning to the lead prosecutor. Joseph Oberhansley had to be tased by police officers. The arrest report alleges that Oberhansley was found naked in a bar strangling another bar patron in an alleged fight over a woman, according to an NBC affiliate.
Judge Joseph P. Weber set cash bond for that incident at $25,000 cash bond. The next day, he approved an agreement made between the defense attorney and a prosecuting attorney, which led to the now-infamous $500 get-out-of-jail card. Self refused to discuss with the media if she had any part of her son’s most recent release, stating that the issue of bond was between her, her son, and Blanton.
“There was no dispute, they had simply tendered an agreement,” Judge Weber said of the low bond agreement between the now resigned prosecutor and Oberhansley’s defense lawyer. “Basically, it short-circuited me out of the process.”
Besides the strangulation charge and the charge of resisting arrest, in May 2014, Joseph Oberhansley was charged with driving with a suspended licence, but the charge was dismissed.
In May 2013, Joseph Oberhansley was convicted of speeding.
Just this summer, Joseph Oberhansley was charged with resisting law enforcement and criminal recklessness committed with a deadly weapon. Tammy Jo Blanton, his latest alleged victim, reportedly paid $1000 to bail Oberhansley out of jail in Louisville after he allegedly led Indiana officers into Kentucky on a low-speed chase.
Indiana authorities should have alerted the Utah Board of Pardons and Parole of all interaction Oberhansley had with police, according to Greg Johnson, of the Utah Board of Pardon and Parole.
“We had no reports of violations so we didn’t even consider a warrant or extradition,” Johnson told WFPL. “The information we had was that there was no violations and he was doing well.” These encounters with police were never reported to the Utah Board of Pardons and Parole, according to Johnson.
Still, Ryan Harrison, Oberhansley’s parole supervisor in Indiana said the Utah Board of Pardons and Parole was sent notification of each incident that occurred in Indiana.
Meanwhile, Oberhansley’s mother blames the police for the death and alleged cannibalism of Tammy Jo Blanton. She said that when police responded to a call from Blanton the night that she was killed, they sent her son away and diffused the situation. Self says that she is “kind of disgusted” in the police because they didn’t take her son to jail that night. Self said that the police left her son, Joseph Oberhansley, free to kill and cannibalize Blanton.