The disappearance of the Sodder children is a mysterious case that occurred on December 24, 1945, in Fayetteville, West Virginia. The Sodde family consisted of his wife Jennie Sodder and their ten children. They lived in a two-story home on a farm outside Fayetteville.
1. Who was George Sodder and Jennie Sodder?
Italian-American George Sodder was born in Tula, Sardinia, on June 23, 1895. At the age of 13, he and his elder brother moved to the country to join their father, who had already established himself there. The family relocated to Smithfield in West Virginia’s Fayette County.
George began working in the coal mines with his father after finishing his education, but in 1923 he launched his own trucking company. He was prosperous and ran a successful company that delivered products like coal throughout the region.
George wed Jennie Cipriani, another Italian immigrant, in 1923. Joe, John, Marion, George Jr., Maurice, Martha, Louis, Jennie, Betty, and Sylvia were the ten children that George and Jennie Sodder eventually had. The family resided in the West Virginian hamlet of Fayetteville, where George ran a prosperous trucking business.
2. What Happened on The Night of 24 December 1945?
The Sodder family, consisting of George and Jennie Sodder and their ten children, enjoyed Christmas Eve in their Fayetteville, West Virginia, home on the evening of December 24, 1945. John and George Jr., George’s two oldest boys, and George, who was working at their family’s trucking business, didn’t get home until late that evening.
The other members of the family retired to sleep, and at about 12:30 a.m., Jennie awoke to the sound of the phone ringing. When she answered, the caller asked for someone she didn’t know in a voice that she didn’t identify. Before the line went silent, Jennie could then hear background laughter and the sound of glasses clinking.
A short while later, Jennie heard something roll and then a huge bang on the roof. She rushed to check on her kids, believing a Molotov cocktail had been thrown onto their roof. She discovered that everyone was sleeping and everything was quiet.
One of the Sodder daughters, Marion, who was 17 at the time, heard a thud on the roof at around 1:00 in the morning, followed by a rolling sound. She also observed that the drapes weren’t drawn and that the lights were still on. She didn’t look any further and went back to slumber.
Jennie was once more startled a half-hour later, this time by the scent of smoke. She started to wake up her children as soon as she realized that the house was on fire. The children’s bedrooms were on the second story, but the fire had already spread throughout the entire house and they were unable to get there.
When George, his boys John and George Jr. returned home, they discovered the house in flames. They made an effort to put out the fire using their two water barrels, but the frigid weather had frozen the water into solid ice. George then tried to use a ladder to climb to the second story but discovered that it was missing. Later, he discovered the staircase on a nearby embankment.
The Sodder family finally managed to flee the burning home, but Maurice (age 14), Martha (age 12), Louis (age 9), Jennie (age 8), and Betty (age 8) were not found (age 5). The burned-out ruins of the house were thoroughly searched, but the children’s bodies were not to be discovered.
The Sodder family was dubious of the local fire chief’s original conclusion that the fire was brought on by defective wiring. They started looking into the fire’s causes on their own and came across a number of pieces of information that indicated that their children might not have perished in the blaze but instead had been kidnapped.
The Sodder family experienced strange phone calls over the years, and just before the fire, they noticed a man looking over their house. In addition, they discovered the life insurance agent who had threatened George before the fire and got a letter written to their kids from someone in Florida who claimed to have seen them.
The Sodder family searched for their lost children but was never able to find them or learn what happened to them. The five Sodder kids’ whereabouts are still unknown, and the crime has never been solved.
3. Were The Missing Children Kidnapped?
The Sodder family’s house was destroyed by fire on December 24, 1945, and five of their children—Maurice, Martha, Louis, Jennie, and Betty—went missing, leading to the assumption that they had perished. Several hypotheses, however, contend that the missing kids may have been abducted rather than dying in the fire.
People speculate that the kids may have been abducted for the following reasons:
3.1. Bones Could Not Be Burned by the Fire-
The Sodder family felt that the fire was insufficiently intense to properly cremate human remains. No human remains were discovered after the fire was put out, leading the fire chief to the conclusion that the bones had been totally destroyed.
The family did their own investigation, though, and found that the fire did not achieve the temperature necessary to reduce the bones to ash.
3.2. Strange Events Leading Up to the Fire-
The evening before the fire, a man knocked on the Sodders’ door and inquired about employment. When George turned him away, the man became enraged and threatened that “your children are going to be destroyed” and that “your home is going to go up in flames.” The Sodders got a strange letter with a Kentucky postmark a few months prior to the fire. The letter’s writer claimed to be aware of what had happened to the lost children.
3.3. Sightings of the Children-
Following the fire, there were numerous reports of the children being seen. When the home was on fire, a woman claimed to have seen the kids in a car. A Florida woman reported seeing a photo of a child who looked like Louis Sodder in a magazine. Another lady in Texas reported seeing a young woman who resembled Martha in a restaurant.
3.4. Physical Absence of Evidence-
There was no physical proof that the kids perished in the fire. The source of the fire was never discovered, and no human remains were discovered.
These facts have led some people to speculate that the kids were abducted rather than dying in the fire. The truth about what actually happened to the missing Sodder children is still a mystery because there is no hard evidence to back up this hypothesis.
4. Is the Sodder Children Case Solved?
Several investigations took place starting from the incident day.
4.1. Initial Investigations-
The Sodder family home in Fayetteville, West Virginia, caught fire on the evening of December 24, 1945, sparking the original investigation into the disappearance of the Sodder kids. Here is a thorough description of the preliminary investigation:
4.1.1. Fire Department
The first to react to the fire was the neighborhood fire department. When Fire Chief F.J. Morris arrived on the site, he oversaw the firefighting operations. Later, Morris said he thought the fire was brought on by faulty wiring, particularly a fuse box close to the foot of the steps. He did not, however, look into the fire’s origins any further.
4.1.2. Police Department-
The Fayetteville Police Department additionally arrived at the fire site. They contributed to the area’s security and helped stop any theft or damage. They didn’t, however, look into the Sodder children’s absence or the origin of the fire in great detail.
4.1.3. The Sodder Family
The Sodder family looked around the area for any signs of their missing children after the fire was put out, but they came up empty-handed. The absence of any human remains and the appearance of a cut telephone line were two additional odd and suspicious details they observed encircling the fire.
The father of the missing children, George Sodder, had suspicions about the fire’s origin and started looking into its conditions. He didn’t think that the house’s faulty wiring was what started the fire because it had just been examined and found to be secure.
In the years that followed the fire, the Sodders also started getting strange and threatening letters that indicated their children were still alive and being held against their will. The family decided to employ private detectives to look into the case after receiving these letters.
Initial inquiries into the loss of the Sodder children were scant, and no conclusive information about what happened to them was found. Faulty wiring was initially blamed for starting the fire, but the Sodders subsequently disputed this.
The reason for the fire and the disappearance of the children were not thoroughly investigated by the police. Following a private inquiry prompted by the family’s suspicions, several odd and suspicious circumstances surrounding the case would later come to light, spurring new search efforts for the missing children.
4.2. Private Investigations-
The Sodder family engaged private detectives to look into the case after the initial investigation into the disappearance of the children produced no conclusive results. Here is a thorough description of the private investigator’s process:
4.2.1. The Sodder Family Hires Private Investigators-
The Sodder family commissioned C.C. Tinsley, a private eye, to look into the matter in 1949. After conducting a comprehensive investigation, Tinsley learned some new details, such as the account of a woman who claimed to have seen the missing kids in a car driving through town the night of the fire. This claim, however, could not be verified.
On the night of the fire, Tinsley also heard of an odd and suspicious occurrence. Earlier that day, a man had stopped by the home and inquired about George Sodder’s coal truck. Later, the man suddenly vanished, and Sodder never saw him again. Tinsley thought this guy might have been responsible for the kids’ disappearance.
4.2.2. Other Private Investigators
The Sodder family also employed additional private detectives to investigate the case, including Cloyd B. Marshall, a former FBI agent. Marshall thought that someone with a vendetta against George Sodder or the family might have kidnapped the kids.
In the years that followed the fire, the family received a number of strange and threatening letters that raised the possibility that their children were still living and being held against their will. The FBI looked into these letters, but they turned up no real clues.
New material and leads were discovered during the private investigation into the disappearance of the Sodder children, but none of them offered any conclusive explanations for what transpired to the kids. The private investigators investigated a number of hypotheses, including the likelihood that the kids had been abducted or that they had escaped from home, but none of these were proven. The matter has never been fully resolved.
4.3. New Leads-
The Sodder Children case remains unsolved, and there are no current leads to find them. Due to the efforts of the remaining Sodder family members and numerous internet sleuths who have taken an interest in the case, the case has gained fresh attention in the twenty-first century.
The surviving family members have recently followed a number of tactics to uncover the truth, including working with private detectives, scanning the property with ground-penetrating radar, and providing a reward for information. To share knowledge and interact with the public, they have also created websites and social media accounts.
On various online forums and social media sites, some internet sleuths have discussed their ideas and research related to the case. These initiatives have involved performing their own investigations, looking over paperwork and police records, and analyzing old pictures of the Sodder fam
No fresh leads or significant developments in the case have been made despite these attempts. One of the most puzzling unsolved cases in American history, the enigma surrounding the disappearance of the Sodder children continues to enthrall and intrigue people.
The sad and enigmatically unsolved case of the Sodder family’s disappearance in 1945 continues to this day. The house of the Sodder family in Fayetteville, West Virginia, was destroyed by fire on the evening of December 24, 1945.
Although their bones were never discovered, it was assumed that five of the Sodder kids perished in the blaze. Numerous other peculiarities surrounding the case raised suspicion, and the source of the fire was never identified.
The crime has not been solved despite extensive investigations by both the authorities and private detectives. For the remainder of their lives, the Sodder family themselves continued to look for answers and look into the case. People are still fascinated and perplexed by the eerie enigma surrounding the disappearance of the Sodder children.
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