Freaky Flint History with Joe Schipani: Dance Hall Shooting September 24th, 1921

Flint is well known for its modern violent crimes but Flint's history is filled with little known stories that read stranger than fiction. Gruesome murders, weird accidents, and violent deaths. Join us every Thursday as Joe Schipani details some of the odd but true deaths he found in Flint's archives.

 Dance Hall Shooting September 24th, 1921

It was a beautiful Saturday evening in the fall of 1921 the Liberty dance hall on North Saginaw Street was packed with people trying to unwind after a long workweek. 

Everyone was having a great time until William Vernon walked in around 10:30 PM with his gun and fired four shots. 

Scared dancers started scrambling to leave the dance hall quickly. The crowd of dancers burst through the back door and filled the streets. 

The bullets hit two people. Miss. Dina Linhart was shot in the arm and Mrs. Ina Knisley was shot three times in the chest. 

After shooting Ina Knisley William yelled, “I got her and now I’m going with her” as he turned the gun to his temple and pulled the trigger.

Ina Knisley’s two children were at the dance hall that night and saw the murder of their mother. They followed the ambulance to the hospital but Ina died before arriving at Hurley hospital. 

William Vernon died instantly on the dance floor. 

Ina Knisley had been divorced for almost a year, leaving behind an abusive husband. She had two children, a son age eighteen and a daughter age fifteen that lived with her. 

After her divorce Ina rented half of a duplex home that was owned by William Vernon, who lived on the other side of the duplex. Everything went well for a while, but the last six months of living in the duplex with William Vernon became weird. William was spreading false rumors about being engaged to Ina and gossiping about them living together. 

Things were getting really scary with William so Ina decided to move out a few weeks before the shooting at the dance hall occurred.

According to Ina’s son, as soon as they moved out of William Vernon’s duplex on North Street he would show up at the new house they rented on Jane Street. 

He would profess his love for her. Everyday William would show up trying to win Ina’s love, but she would turn him away.

The Thursday before the dance hall shooting he showed up with a pistol trying to force Ina to be with him. She filed a complaint with the police that William said “if I can’t have her no one else will.”.  

The police searched Mr. Vernon’s house but no pistol was found. 

The pistol did not resurface until the following Saturday at the dance hall where he killed Ina and himself. 

~ Joe Schipani is the Executive Director of the Flint Public Art Project and the FFAR Project Assistant at the Community Foundation of Greater Flint.  Find him on Facebook at 

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