Freaky Flint History with Joe Schipani - Kerr’s Pharmacy October 13th, 1931 #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.

Kerr’s Pharmacy October 13th, 1931

Leah Young was a bright and beautiful young woman who was dating Willis Kerr, the owner of a local pharmacy just south of downtown.

On the morning of Tuesday October 13, 1931 the couple had a quarrel and Willis Kerr decided to call it quits.

Leah was both heartbroken and furious. A neighbor reported that she screamed at Willis that he couldn’t do this to her and that he would pay for it. Later that afternoon, after Leah calmed down, she called the pharmacy and left a message with the clerk to let Willis know she was on her way to talk. Leah then called a cab and headed to the pharmacy.

The clerk gave Willis the message. Willis then requested that the clerk close upthe pharmacy for him. Willis walked out the front door and headed south on Saginaw Street. The clerk found this strange because his boss always left out the back door, which was where his car was parked.

About fifteen minutes later, Leah walked into the pharmacy. She demanded to talk to Willis. The clerk informed her that he left right after he got her message. Leah figured he would be back soon.  His car was still out back.  She insisted on waiting for him in the back office.

What happened next is still a little unknown.

The clerk was busy in the store when he was suddenly startled by a loud noise. After making sure the money and medications were safe at the pharmacy counter, he walked into the back to find Leah lying on the ground, blood spurting from her neck. A gun was lying next to her.

The clerk immediately called the police. When the police arrived Leah was still alive. The ambulance arrived and she was rushed to Hurley Hospital but died a few hours later. When Leah was taken out the back door to the ambulance the clerk noticed that Willis’s car was gone.

The police took the clerk’s statement and went searching for Willis Kerr at his home but he wasn’t there. They then proceeded to patrol the area looking for his car but came up empty handed.

Later that evening, Willis phoned the pharmacy to check the day’s profits. The clerk told him what had happened. Willis said he was at his parent’s house and the police could speak with him there.

When the police arrived Willis explained to them that he and Leah had a quarrel and broke up. When Leah called the store, he was not in the mood to talk, so he went to Lake Nepessing so he could clear his head. He then went to his parents’ home for dinner.

Willis was a respected business owner so the police simply told him not to leave town.

When the coroner’s report came back it was ruled as a suicide. They found gun powder on Leah’s hands and the angle of the bullet hole determined that she could have shot herself.

The only other explanation was that someone put the gun in her hand and forced her to pull the trigger, but they thought that was highly unlikely.

Leah’s death was ruled a suicide and the case closed.

But many people in Flint believed that Willis Kerr killed her.   

~ 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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