In 1945 on Christmas Eve in Fayetteville, West Virginia, a family's house burned to ash. Five children were trapped in the upstairs bedrooms, never to be seen again. Did they die in the fire or was something else going on here? Let's delve into the case:
George and Jennie Sodder, along with nine of their children, were asleep when a fire started in their house around 1 a.m. George, Jennie, and four of their children escaped, but five remained upstairs in the house.
George broke back into the house to save them, but the staircase was on fire. When he went to get a ladder, he discovered that it was missing. Additionally, both of his trucks, which he wanted to use to climb on top of, would not start.
One of the children, who escaped the fire, ran to a neighbor’s house to call the fire department, but got no answer. Another neighbor also called with the same result. That same neighbor drove to town and found the fire chief in person. Still, even though the fire department was only 2.5 miles from the Sodder house, firefighters didn't arrive until 8 a.m.! It literally took them seven hours to get there.
Authorities scavenged the ashes of the fire looking for bones and remains, but found nothing. This is suspicious, as typically when bodies are cremated, bones are still left behind.
George and Jennie began to suspect that their five children were not dead, but instead kidnapped. They believed that the fire was deliberately set as a diversion.
But why would someone kidnap their children? As it turns out, George had emigrated from Italy and was very anti-Mussolini, which sparked several heated debates with fellow Italian immigrants in the community. He also may have been involved in some shady business back in Italy.
Weirdly enough, a life insurance salesman threatened George in the fall before the house fire, when he tried unsuccessfully to sell George life insurance. He literally told George his house would go up in smoke and his children would be destroyed!
Also, in the days leading up to the fire, two of the surviving Sodder children witnessed a man watching the younger kids from the highway.
Additionally, on the night of the fire around 12:30 a.m., the phone rang. Jennie got out of bed to answer it and noticed that the lights were still on downstairs, which disproves the theory that the fire had been started by electrical problems and faulty wiring. As she began to fall asleep, she heard a loud bang on the roof followed by the sound of something rolling. An hour later, she awoke to smoke.
Much later, when the family visited a memorial on the property, they found a rubber object in the yard that George believed to be a napalm "pineapple bomb." They believed this could've caused the loud bang that night.
Seems like this fire was arson, y'all.
Additionally, there have been reported sightings of the children over the years. A woman even claimed to have seen the children driving away as the fire was blazing that night.
A few years later, George saw a photo of New York City school children in a newspaper, and one looked like his missing daughter. He tracked down her parents and drove all the way to New York to speak to them, but they refused.
In 1947, the FBI agreed to help with the case, but the local police and fire departments both denied their offer.
Twenty-three years after the fire, a photograph of a man in his twenties with very similar features to their missing son was sent to Jennie with no return address. There was also a very interesting and mysterious handwritten note on the back of the photo.
The letter was postmarked from Kentucky, so the Sodders hired a private detective to go there and find this man. Strangely enough, the detective was never heard from again!
vote votesThe children died in the fire.
vote votesThey were kidnapped! Probably by that angry salesman.
vote votesThey were kidnapped by the Italian mafia!