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Sodder Family Fire, What Really Happened?
Transcript of Sodder Family Fire, What Really Happened?
George attempted many times to save his five other children. First, he tired breaking a window to reenter the home slicing his arm in the process. After not being able to see anything or have any idea where he was going he quickly ran back outside. Then, he went to get the ladder that was always propped against the side of the house, so he could reach the upstairs window where the children would have been sleeping. But strangely the ladder was no where in sight. In a frantic rush to save his children he then came up with an idea to climb on top of his coal truck to reach the window. But first he had to move it. Rushing to move the truck as quickly as possible he attempted to start the engines that had worked perfectly the morning before. They didn't start. In his final attempt to save his children he went to the rain barrel to try to stop the fire but sadly found it frozen solid. While George was trying to save his family one of his daughters that escaped the fire Marion rushed to a neighbors house to call the fire department. But for a strange reason there was no response from the operator. Finally by the time a bystander was able to get in contact with a fireman (8 a.m.) the Sodder home was a pile of ash.
Where are the other children. Originally believing the children died in the fire a quick search on Christmas Day showed no human remains in the ashes. The chief on duty, F.J. Morris, suggested the blaze was hot enough to completely cremate all five children. The fire department blamed the fire on faulty wiring. This was confusing George and Jennie because their Christmas lights were still shinning bright as their house went down in flames. George not able to believe then came up with his own theory that the children had been kidnapped. Later new evidence arose proving that his theory might not be a theory after all.
The Theory That Might Be The Answer
There was a lot of different evidence that pointed to the fact that what the police and fire department said what happened may not be true. Although the detectives on the case say that the children had died there were no remains to prove this. According to the lead detective the bodies were cremated during the fire but scientific studies have shown that it takes a 2,000 degree fire and two hours to completely cremate a body and the bones. Their house had burnt within 45 minutes. There was also confusion on why the detectives would blame it on faulty wiring. The power would have been completely dead so they wouldn't have seen the Christmas lights. One top of that a telephone repair man told George and Jennie that there was no sign of faulty wiring. One other strange incident that had happened was later Detective Morris had claimed to find a human heart in the ashes but he buried it at the sight. Jennie demanded he show it to them. George and Jennie soon went to see what maybe the answer to their questions and an end to the theories. But soon found the supposed heart that had been put in the box was actually a beef liver that had never even been exposed to the fire . The Chief claimed that it was done with good intentions trying to give the parents closure and stop the investigation. Was the chief trying to hide something?
Leads & Evidence
Jennie Sodder claimed to wake up before the fire happened to a thud on the roof. When the surviving family was walking around after the fire George found a strange item laying in the grass. He concluded that is was a pineapple bomb like the ones used in warfare. Was it supposed to go off? Ever wonder why the coal truck engine wasn't working that night? Well one witness came forward claiming to see a man taking out the car engines at the house the night of the fire. More and more witnesses started to come forward clamming to see the children. One saying they saw the children in a car driving away as the house was burning. Another person claimed to serve the children breakfast a few days later. One other women who worked at a hotel front desk said she saw the children with two men and two women of italian extraction and they checked into a large room. George was originally from Italy and never wanted to say why he left. What did George do in Italy that made him want to leave and never talk about it? Did he have a run in with the Mafia?
If It Wasn't Faulty Wiring...Who did it?
Who could have done it? New suspects were brought up when George remembers some strange situations a couple months before the fire occurred. There was two big thing that happened between George and a stranger. This stranger made an odd comment whiel looking for hauling work that didn't make sense then but it may have had to do with what happened. The stranger pointed out two separate fuse boxes and said "This is going to cause a fire someday." A couple weeks later another man was trying to sell the family insurance. George decline and the man made comments about how his house would catch fire and his children would be destroyed... both of these things happened. The man selling insurance was also saying dark things about how George's out spoken anti-Mussolini remarks that upset most of the Italian community in Fayetteville would come back to haunt him.
In Fayetteville, West Virginia on Christmas Eve, 1945 George and Jennie Sodder and nine of their ten children laid sleeping. At 1 a.m. George and Jennie awoke to the smell of smoke. Their house had caught fire. The husband and wife were able to escape with four of their children, but the other five...
were never seen again.
After 72 years later its no to late to investigate
Social Studies Google Project 2017
The Missing Children
In 1967 there was an envelope put in the Sodder mail box with a picture of a man who looked a lot like Louis (one of the children who wnet missing the night of the fire). On the back of the picture was a note that read "Louis Sodder. I love brother Frankie. Ilil Boys. A90132 or 35." There was no return address on the envelopment only postmarked in Kentucky. George and Jennie hired a private detective and sent him to Kentucky to try and find out where the picture came from and if their suspected nine year dead child was alive and well. George and Jennie never heard from the investigator again. Was Louis still alive? Was there hope? We may never know.
What Do I Think?
This my first time ever hearing about this case when I researched it. So I really didn't have any preexisting opinion. I thought this was a very interesting case that could have many different endings. There is enough evidence to back up multiple theories. But I do believe that the children didn't die in that fire. First of all there were no remains and the detectives tried to convince the parents that they found a heart (that turned out to be a cow liver) so they would stop the investigation. Was there something that the police didn't want George and Jennie to find? Then there was barely an investigation the investigators sort of just came up with an answer. Also I don't think it was any coincidence that two men made comments on the house burning or the children being destroyed. I personally think that George really offended someone high in the Italian Mafia and it came back and didn't just hurt him but destroyed his family.
Louis before fire
strange picture received in the mail 20 years later
This sign was put up by the surviving Sodders family at the location of the fire.