The Children who Literally Went Up in Smoke
the Sodder Children (Fayetteville, West Virginia)
Details of Disappearances
- 5 children go missing from their home on Christmas Eve in 1945. The missing children were (in order of the picture) 14 year old Maurice, 12 year old Martha, 10 year old Louis, 8 year old Jennie, and 6 year old Betty.
- Mrs. Sodder wakes up in middle of the night to a prank call. Later, she was awoken again by a loud noise on the roof. Her and Mr. Sodder went outside to investigate and discovered their house was on fire! And that 5 of their 10 children were no where to be found.
It gets Weirder…
- No sign of any of the children’s bodies: The coroner ruled the children’s deaths to be caused by the fire; however, they had little to no evidence of human remains on site. (Some reports state there was no remains at all, and others say there was bone fragments that were later believed to be planted at the scene because they had no sign of fire damage.) Also, It would be unlikely for such a quick burning fire to completely destroy any trace of human remains, especially since some household items were still found still intact at the scene.
- Faulty wiring or intentional fire?: The fire department blamed the fire on faulty wiring, but there was evidence there phone line had been deliberately cut prior or during the blaze, and also if it were an electrical problem, then why were their Christmas lights still on during the fire?
- Their ladder wasn’t in it’s normal spot: Their ladder they kept near the house was later found not too far from the home. Of Note: the children’s bedrooms were on the 2nd floor.
- Reported sightings: There were several sightings of the children shortly after the fire. Someone claimed to have seen them leaving the scene in a car, and another claims to have served them breakfast at a diner the next morning.
- Possible picture of one of children surfaces 23 years later: In 1968, the family received a photo in the mail of a man appearing to be in his twenties-early thirties, and Louis’s full name name was written on the back. Spooky. The identity of the man in the photo was never confirmed, so there is no telling if it actually was Louis or not. Can we get an age progression here? Has any photo analysis person looked into this yet?
The police at the time refused to investigate further saying that there was no missing persons case because the children had died in the fire, and the the Sodder parents were treated as simply being in denial their children had died. Come on guys!, there is no doubt something fishy about some circumstances in this case. The prank call before the fire, the ladder being moved, the phone line being cut, and the picture years later!
I believe that someone really had it in for the Sodder family. I read somewhere that the father had angered someone by a critical comment he had made about Mussolini and the government from his native Italy. It is theorized that the Sicilian Mafia was involved in their disappearance, and I think that is highly probable.
Whoever took the children, I still wonder how they got 5 children out of the house without an obvious fuss. Maybe they lit the place up and acted as they were helping them escape, and the children didn’t suspect a thing when they were driven away (to safety as they probably believed). The children could have been told that the rest of their family died in the fire, so that could be an easy ploy to get them to put their old lives behind them. It is possible they got new identities and are living in a another country.
My question is: If the Sicilian Mafia had kidnapped them, then why would they potentially keep them alive assuming the man in the picture is, in fact, Louis? That is 5 more mouths to feed, nevertheless. How could the children have been of use to the mafia? Was the father’s comments really worth all that? Has anyone searched for them in their native Surname (immigrants typically Americanize their family names)? Or has anyone done a through international search yet?
I am very certain the children did not planned all this on their own, but that would be one hell of a way to runaway! If the children are alive today, they would be in their 80’s and 90’s now, possibly thinking back to a life they once lived with a family they still probably believe were fated in that dreadful fire.