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I got me this job one time busin' tables at a country club. So I could case all these big rich pricks that come in. So I pick out this guy, go in one night and do his place. He wakes up and gives me sh-t. So I killed him. Him and this tasty bitch he was with. That's the best part. She's f--kin' this prick, see, this golf pro, but she's married to some other guy! Some hotshot banker. And he's the one they pinned it on!
~ Blatch, about committing the crime Andy was imprisoned for.

Elmo Blatch is the overarching antagonist of the 1982 Stephen King book Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption, as well as its 1994 film adaptation The Shawshank Redemption.

Despite making only a brief appearance, Elmo is actually one of the stories most influential characters. Elmo is a professional criminal by trade, being a convicted robber and self-confessed murderer. It turns out that he is the real killer of Andy Dufresne (the main protagonist's) wife and her lover. Since Elmo left no evidence at the scene however, Andy was wrongfully convicted and imprisoned for his crime.

He was portrayed by Bill Bolender

Personality

A hardened criminal, Elmo is a cruel and sadistic man. He is also implied to be a narcissist, given that he brags about the various things/crimes that he has committed. Despite finding him irritating and not taking him seriously, Tommy described Elmo as the type of cellmate "you pray you don't get". suggesting that people did nevertheless fear Elmo.

Elmo does not show any remorse for his crimes or the people whose lives he ended/ruined. On the contrary, when retelling his story (in the film), he laughed openly at both Andy's wrongful arrest and the fact that he (Elmo) had gotten away with a double murder.

Biography

During his time in Shawshank Prison, Andy Dufresne helped newly arrived inmate Tommy Williams with his GED's. Believing that he had failed, Tommy confided in Andy's long time friend and fellow inmate Ellis Boyd Redding (aka Red), who assured Tommy that Andy is proud of him. The two men proceeded to talk about their mutual friend. Despite being part of the group, Tommy did not about the circumstances behind Andy's conviction. Red told him about the murder of Andy's wife and golf pro lover, at which point a look of horror spreed across Tommy's face.

Meeting with Red and Andy in the library, Tommy told them about an old cellmate of his during a stint at Thomaston, Elmo Blatch. He explained that Elmo had been arrested for armed burglary and had a habit of bragging to his fellow inmates about various things, mostly the "supposed" crimes he committed, his "relationships" and the people he had "allegedly" killed. Tommy notes that whilst he originally paid little attention to these stories, one day he got fed up of Elmo's bragging. He then sarcastically asked Elmo who he had killed, only to get a chilling response.

Note: What follows is a retelling of how Elmo committed the murder which saw Andy Dufresne wrongfully committed. It is based upon both Elmo's testimony and the prosecutions evidence at Andy's trial.

At one point, Elmo got a job at a unnamed country club. Whilst in his own words "busin' tables" Elmo would keep an eye on the regulars, determining which of them were worth robbing. He eventually settled upon golf pro Glenn Quinton. After finding out where he lived, Elmo broke into the house. Though his intention was just to rob the place, Elmo brought a gun with him, a .38 special revolver, just in case.

By pure coincidence, the same night that Elmo broke into the residency, was the same one in which, Andy's wife, Linda, had left him. Although a drunken Andy had intended to confront the couple, he changed his mind at the last minute, but left a broken bottle and some unused bullets from the same type of gun Elmo used, both of which had his finger prints upon them. Although Andy had left before Elmo arrived, Blatch caused enough of a commotion to wake both Glenn and Linda. When the former yelled at him Elmo, who did not like being shouted at shot the couple dead, both to shut them up and avoid leaving any witnesses. Since Elmo had wrapped towels around to muzzle, nobody heard the gunshots allowing him to make a clean get away.

According to Tommy at the end of the story, the laughing Elmo had told him "the best part". Blatch later found out that the woman he'd killed was in fact married to a "hotshot banker". Laughing ecstatically, the unremorseful Elmo told Tommy that same banker was the one that cops and state blamed for the murder. Needless to say, Red (and later the other members of his group) were horrified to hear this story, as they realized that Andy had been falsely convicted and that an innocent man had spent almost twenty years of his life serving time Shawshank State Prison for a crime that he did not commit.

Andy took this information straight to Warden Norton, but Norton refused to accept this "story" for two reasons. Firstly, he said that Blatch had more than likely already been released from Thomaston at that point and that even if confronted, would never confess. Secondly and most importantly, Andy was laundering money for him. Not only did Norton want to keep it coming, he did not want to run the risk that Andy might betray him to the authorities. When Andy continued to protest, Norton had Dufrense placed in solitary. He later had Tommy killed by Captain Byron Hadley to prevent him from telling anybody about his discovery, (in the book though, Norton bribed Tommy into staying quiet).

Elmo Blatch is not mentioned after this and fate remains unknown.

Trivia

  • In the novel, his name is Elwood Blatch.
  • In the book, Andy does nothing to clear his name following his escape from Shawshank and a bribe from Norton kept Tommy quiet about Andy's innocence. As such, Blatch presumably got away with the crime and given that his sentence for robbery was short, he more than likely returned to the streets before Tommy's incarceration at Shawshank.
    • In the movie, Andy may have sent over evidence of Blatch's crimes along with the evidence used to convict both Hadley and Norton, although this remains unconfirmed.

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