Freaky Flint History with Joe Schipani - City Commissioner October 10th, 1933 #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.

City Commissioner October 10th, 1933

Vernon Dodge moved to Flint Michigan with the Campion Ignition Company in 1919. A few years later he became the legal advisor for the Buick Motor Company.

In 1928, Dodge was elected a member of the charter revision commission.

In 1929, he was elected fifth ward alderman.

Vernon Dodge was so well liked on the charter revision commission, that when he ran for commissioner, he won by a land slide and was appointed to the job in the spring of 1930. By October of 1930, he resigned as commissioner and was appointed the second probate judge in Genesee County by the governor. After his appointment ended, he ran for commissioner again in 1931, and won a three year term, again by a landslide.

On the night of October 9th, 1933 the Commissioner arrived home around seven at night. He and his wife had a late supper. After dinner he went to his room around nine.

The next morning, Mrs. Dodge woke up at five-thirty in the morning to go make breakfast. She noticed the light in her husband’s room was on and called his name. After getting no answer, she grew concerned and called her daughter and son-in-law to come over. They arrived at a quarter after six. The three forced the locked door open and found the commissioner hanging in the closet dooway by a cord from his robe that was tied around his neck.

Although the Commissioner’s death was ruled a suicide, the prosecutor had Mrs. Dodge detained for questioning. Even though he had no proof, the prosecutor suspected foul play in the commissioner’s death.

After a few days, Mrs. Dodge’s attorney had Mrs. Dodge released of a Habeas Corpus writ, due to lack of evidence.  When she was released, she moved into an apartment with her ten year old daughter on Detroit Street, a few blocks away from her home on Garland Street where her husband had died.

The prosecutor got a court order to have the commissioner’s body exhumed from Sunset Hills Cemetery for another autopsy. He claimed that an important witness came forward in the case. The judge granted his wish and allowed him to detain Mrs. Dodge again for questioning.

Mrs. Dodge found herself in the county jail once again. This time she was not allowed to talk with anyone, not even her attorney. After the autopsy, Mrs. Dodge’s attorney demanded a hearing, to get her client released. During the hearing the prosecution was unable to supply their only witness and the autopsy showed no signs of foul play. The evidence gathered on Mrs. Dodge was ruled gossip and was not allowed in the hearing.

Mrs. Dodge was declared innocent of murder and Commissioner Dodge’s death was ruled a suicide.   

~ 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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