On the Christmas Eve of 1945, five of the Sodder children ended up missing after a mysterious fire that burned their house down.
That said, even with the many conspiracy theories, the Sodder family were never able to find these missing children.
Here’s What Happened:
The Sodder family was made up of George and Jennie Sodder and their ten children who lived in Fayetteville, West Virginia.
On 1945’s Christmas Eve, nine of the Sodder children were at home with the eldest son being away in the Army.
Since it was Christmas Eve, five of the children [Maurice (14), Martha (12), Louis (10), Jennie (8), and Betty (6)] requested to stay up late.
Their mother agreed with instructions that they shouldn’t forget turning off the lights, locking the front door and closing the curtains.
We before dawn on the 25th, Jennie heard the phone ring and came down to the hall to answer it. The call asked for someone Jennie didn’t know, to which, the woman calling laughed strangely before hanging up the phone.
It was then that she noticed the front door being unlocked with the lights turned on without anyone downstairs.
So, while upset at the children, she locked up the house and went back upstairs to go back to bed.
When she was falling asleep, she heard a loud thump on the roof, followed by something rolling down to the side of the house.
And it was then that she smelt it….smoke.
It was 1:30 am by then, and she immediately woke her husband and ran out the door of the bedroom.
Both Jennie and George screamed for the children to get out of the house as smoke and fire was covering the stairway to the children’s rooms.
By the time they got everyone out, there were only four children present. There was no sign of the five kids who had stayed up late on Christmas Eve.
When he realized that he couldn’t get back inside due to the heat, George tried to find his ladder to reach the top-floor window. However, when he reached the side of the house, his ladder was missing.
His next desperate hope was to move one of his trucks closer to the house so that the kids could climb down from the burning house. However, he soon found that both vehicles weren’t starting.
In the end, all George and Jennie Sodder and the other four children could do was to watch the burning inferno turn their house into ash. In fact, according to reports, it didn’t even take an hour for the house to burn to the ground.
The Mystery Surrounding The Fire And The Sudden Children Disappearances:
While the fire was ravaging the Sodder house to the ground, the local fire department couldn’t be contacted.
In fact, two of the neighbors tried to call the fire station to report the fire. One of them even drove to the fire department to inform the fire chief, F. J. Morris.
However, even then, it wasn’t until eight in the morning that the fire trucks arrived at the Sodder house. This was over six hours after the fire had started.
Shockingly, the fire department was just a few miles from the Sodder house. Plus, it was close enough that you would have been able to see the smoke.
The local police also reached the scene after the firemen to conduct their investigation. However, after a brief investigation and consultation with the coroner, it was concluded that the five Sodder Children undoubtedly perished in the fire. The cause of the fire was said to be faulty wiring.
However, George and Jennie were unsatisfied with the conclusion drawn by the police investigation.
So, the Sodder couple went to great lengths to have an in-depth investigation done on their missing and supposedly dead kids.
The Suspicious Facts About The Sodder Children Disappearances:
No Faulty Wiring:
According to George, Jennie, as well as a neighbor, the lights were still on while the house was burning.
If the wiring in the house were the cause, it would have caused a short, shutting down the house’s electricity.
In fact, George had the wiring checked out by the electricity company just a few months back. So, the theory about the fire being caused by faulty wiring looked to be untrue.
No Human Remains Found:
After the house burned itself to ash, the investigation team tried to find the remains of the five missing children.
However, there was no sign of human remains in the house. This included human bones or bone fragments that are expected in case of a fire like this.
The coroner suggested that the fire burned hot enough to melt the bones. However, Jennie consulted the local crematorium and was informed that it takes at least 2 hours for a skeleton to disintegrate, that too at very high temperatures.
That would make it almost impossible for there to be no human remains as the Sodder house fire only burned for less than an hour.
Fireballs On The Roof:
According to a bus driver who saw the fire starting, there were fireballs that looked to be falling on the roof before the house caught on fire.
This may have been the sound that Jennie heard when she was going back to sleep around 1:30 am.
Five Children In A Strange Car:
One woman who was friends with the Sodder family told them that she saw the five children get into a strange car.
This was said to have happened when the fire was burning the house down.
The Threatening Salesman:
A few months before the fire, one man tried to sell George family life insurance. However, the salesman became irate when his offer was declined.
He told George, “Your goddamn house is going up in smoke, and your children are going to be destroyed. You are going to be paid for the dirty remarks you have been making about Mussolini.”
On this note, it was well-known that George was very vocal about his dislike of the Italian dictator in the Italian-immigrant community in town.
The suspicious fact about the salesman was that he was also a member of the coroner’s jury that deemed the fire to be an accident.
Five Children In A Diner:
On Christmas morning, a waitress in a Fayetteville dinner claimed that she served breakfast to five children.
She recalled that there were two men and two women with the kids. The men also appeared to prevent her from talking to the kids.
Four Children In A Hotel:
After the news of the missing kids spread to other towns, one woman claimed to see four of the children in a South Caroline hotel.
According to her account, four adults were accompanying them.
Bread Crumbs That Led Nowhere:
With all the suspicious facts around the kids’ disappearance, George and Jennie were sure that their kids didn’t die in the fire.
They even erected a billboard near the former home that showed the photos of the five children. This was accompanied by a $10,000 reward for the return of the Sodder Children.
Even so, there was no news of the missing kids…. until 1968.
Twenty-three years after the fire, Jennie got an envelope in the mail which contained a photograph of a young man.
The sender was from Kentucky, and on the back of the photo, it said: Louis Sodder, I love brother Frankie, Ilil Boys, A90132.
While everyone else thought this was a hoax, George and Jennie were convinced that the photo was of an adult Louis.
But even after hiring a private investigator, the sender wasn’t found.
After this, George gave an interview where he said, “Time is running out for us, but we only want to know. If they did die in the fire, we want to be convinced. Otherwise, we want to know what happened to them.”
In the end, George Sodder died in 1969. After her husband’s death, Jennie continued wearing all black as a sign on mourning, even until her own death in 1989.
Her surviving children and grandchildren continued their search for the five missing Sodder Children. But so far, no new information has come to light explaining what really happened on Christmas Eve 1945.