Freaky Flint History with Joe Schipani - Bad Rye April 20, 1929 #freakyflinthistory

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.

Bad Rye April 20, 1929

Prohibition turned liquor production and distribution into a shady illegal business. As the demand for moonshine and whiskey grew, the quality became less than desirable. 

One quality control problem came from methanol not being removed properly. 
Methanol is created during the distillment process. A still has to be properly vented so the methanol is released. If vented correctly you end up with alcohol safe for consumption. If not, you end up with toxic poison.
On Saturday April 20, 1929 Mr. and Mrs. Merritts decided they were going to let loose and have some fun so they purchased a cheap bottle of rye moonshine and sat at the kitchen table to drink. After the two were almost finished with the bottle they started getting sick. Fearing that they may have drank too much, Mr. Merritts decided he would make some warm milk to coat their stomachs. 

While preparing the milk, Mrs. Merritts passed out at the table. Mr. Merritts continued heating the milk and passed out on the stove. 

One of their neighbors noticed fire billowing from the kitchen window and called for help. The police came, put out the fire on Mr. Merritts body, and turned the stove off. The first thought was the couple had passed out from carbon monoxide from the stove. 

Mr. Merritts died before the police arrived but Mrs. Merritts was still alive and taken to Hurley Hospital where she died shortly after. 

During the autopsy it was discovered that the couple died from bad moonshine.

~ 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 

No comments:

Post a Comment