With the words "I have nothing
to say," Elbert Blancett went to his death on the scaffold at 5:22
AM in Santa Fe, shortly after sunrise on July 9, 1920. Only his
right hand was handcuffed, his left hand being left free as it had
been rendered useless in a previous suicide attempt. Ten minutes
later he was pronounced dead.
The fall did not break his neck,
but he was unconscious throughout the proceeding, evidently from the
snapping of the knot of the noose against his head. Blancett had gone
to his death calmly, having read and written letters the whole of the
At the scaffold, he nudged the
noose and quipped, "When I am at the end of this it will all be over."
At the beginning of the reading of the warrant for the execution, he
suggested, "We might dispense with that. It will only delay the game."
The story behind Blancett's crime and execution
is far too interesting for a brief summation - the reader is encouraged
to investigate further.
Briefly, Blancett was hanged for the murder of
Clyde D. Amour, whose partially coyote-eaten body was not found until
January 14, 1917, in an arroyo near Glorieta.
An examination showed that Armour had been killed
by a shotgun blast from behind, and an impressive feat of detective work
revealed that Blancett had evidently impersonated his victim for a time
after Amour's death on October 23, 1916.
Blancett, who was traveling from Sioux City, Iowa
to Fresno, California, then spent Amour's money gambling and upon other
activities purportedly in an attempt to forget the incident. He had
even made telegrams to various parties including Amour's own mother
seeking additional funds.
Upon Blancett's arrest in Friday Harbor,
California on December 31, 1916, he requested permission to go inside
his mother's house to "say goodbye." Once inside, he unsuccessfully
attempted to end his life with a shotgun by shooting himself in the neck
- but merely rendered his left arm practically unusable.
Before his trial, he maintained complete silence
regarding Armour's death, stating to Amour's brother that he had never
seen Clyde Armour.
At the trial, which was a local sensation, he
maintained that the shooting was accidental. He claimed that he had been
drinking shortly before the shooting, and that he feared that as a
stranger to the locale he would be accused of murder, and therefore did
not report the incident.
Having been found guilty and incarcerated, he was
subsequently baptized a Catholic. Until his execution, Blancett
continued to maintain that the incident had been an accident.
Before his execution, the governor refused to set
aside the court's verdict and denied a reprieve to Blancett's execution
in order to make a sanity inquiry. Framing the entire trial and
execution, however, appears to be the issue of 'degeneracy' - both
Blancett's attorney and priest maintained that he was not a degenerate.
As to the subject of the supposed degeneracy, one
can only speculate. Perhaps the issue involved was that of homosexual
propositions or activity; further research needs to be done with regard
to this matter.
Toward the end of Blancett's life, his mother,
who had traveled from California to be with her son, visited every day;
and his fellow prisoners raised the money for Blancett's funeral
Angelo State University -