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shadowangel
05-04-2005, 09:34 PM
Several years ago, sometime in the mid-70s, I was travelling through central WV with the family and saw a billbaord detailing, as I remember, the disappearance of several children from the same family. The disappearance(s) occured in the early 60s, maybe, or earlier. The billboard was located near the Hawk's Nest (a popular tourist spot) or the town of Ansted. Anyone have any idea the incident I'm referring to? I recently returned to WV with my family and could not locate the billboard.

marylandmissing
05-05-2005, 07:46 PM
It was a fire in a house and they didn't find the bodies of the kids, if I remember right.

Shadow205
06-13-2005, 07:50 AM
Several years ago, sometime in the mid-70s, I was travelling through central WV with the family and saw a billbaord detailing, as I remember, the disappearance of several children from the same family. The disappearance(s) occured in the early 60s, maybe, or earlier. The billboard was located near the Hawk's Nest (a popular tourist spot) or the town of Ansted. Anyone have any idea the incident I'm referring to? I recently returned to WV with my family and could not locate the billboard.
It is so strange that you asked about this. I can remember seeing that billboard too but couldn't remember where I saw it. I was living in WV then, moved to FL in the mid 80's and just returned to WV. I ask my family once if they knew anything about it but they didn't even know what I was talking about. I live less then an hour from Anstead & Hawks Nest now. I think that I will do some sleuthing. Will keep you posted if I find anything.

dacqueri
06-13-2005, 08:55 AM
I found a link from a Dean at a College in Dayton Ohio that was looking for the same information, so I e-mailed him with the hopes that he would have a clue about this. He said he mailed all the newspaper clippings and files he had to a woman in Fayette County and does not have her address or name anymore. He said he would get back to me later with what he does remember, as he is busy right now. When he e-mails me back I will update you with whatever information he gives me. He was in the same boat as us, just curious, and looking for information. Lets hope he can give us answers that will satisfy our curiousity!

Shadow205
06-13-2005, 10:11 AM
I found a link from a Dean at a College in Dayton Ohio that was looking for the same information, so I e-mailed him with the hopes that he would have a clue about this. He said he mailed all the newspaper clippings and files he had to a woman in Fayette County and does not have her address or name anymore. He said he would get back to me later with what he does remember, as he is busy right now. When he e-mails me back I will update you with whatever information he gives me. He was in the same boat as us, just curious, and looking for information. Lets hope he can give us answers that will satisfy our curiousity!
Dacqueri, that is funny. I found the same link that you did with his email adress. We have been emailing back and forth all morning. I'm going to take a ride over there and snoop around a little bit. He provided me with some good directions and I'm going to send him some pictures. I'll keep you posted.

shadowangel
06-13-2005, 11:38 AM
I'm glad someone else remembers this...I was born and raised in WV, left for the Army in the mid 80's. When I recently returned to visit my follks, I drove the family to Hawks Nest then we drove around, and around, and around....My folks remembered the location as they are lifelong residents of WV, but the area was so different from what they remembered I can't be sure we ever were in the right place. My wife thought we had all gone off the deep end. Even the local newspaper couldn't help. I was just thinking what a huge story this had to have been back then...

dacqueri
06-13-2005, 11:42 AM
Shadow25, this is great! Ever since I read this on here, I was curious as well. Hopefully this man will have information, coupled with your pictures that will give us a clue as to what happened. He said he had nightmares in his teens after seeing the billboard. He also said it happened in 1948. Someone out there knows the story, maybe the local library would have something on file about this case? Good luck in your endeavors today, let me know what you find!

Shadowangel, I am surprised the local newspapers cannot help. If it was huge back then someone should have some paperwork somewhere! I am grateful for this man who is helping us, he is all we have right now!

Shadow205
06-13-2005, 11:59 AM
Shadow25, this is great! Ever since I read this on here, I was curious as well. Hopefully this man will have information, coupled with your pictures that will give us a clue as to what happened. He said he had nightmares in his teens after seeing the billboard. He also said it happened in 1948. Someone out there knows the story, maybe the local library would have something on file about this case? Good luck in your endeavors today, let me know what you find!

Shadowangel, I am surprised the local newspapers cannot help. If it was huge back then someone should have some paperwork somewhere! I am grateful for this man who is helping us, he is all we have right now!
I too remember the billboard from when I was a kid. I could never remember where I saw it just that it was somewhere in WV. I asked my Mom once if she remembered it and she did not. There is a newspaper article in the Charleston Gazette, I think that it was a remember this kind of article. I believe the date was 12/25/95 but you had to pay to read the article. Going to try and find some free stuff beofre doing that. I live about an hour from where this happened and will try to get over there within the next week. If anyone finds any info please post it. Maybe we can drum up enough interest to get the case looked at.

shadowangel
06-13-2005, 12:06 PM
1948? Wow! I didn't think it was that far back, however I was a bit on the young side when I saw the billboard, and my main "sleuthing" was with Scooby Doo on Saturday morning! (Yes, I saw the originals when they came out!) As for the local papers, all I could do was call and no one really seemed too interested in helping me. Checking the local libraries is a great idea...Shadow205 (great name, by the way!), since you're closest, any chance of checking into it for us?:waitasec:

Shadow205
06-13-2005, 01:42 PM
1948? Wow! I didn't think it was that far back, however I was a bit on the young side when I saw the billboard, and my main "sleuthing" was with Scooby Doo on Saturday morning! (Yes, I saw the originals when they came out!) As for the local papers, all I could do was call and no one really seemed too interested in helping me. Checking the local libraries is a great idea...Shadow205 (great name, by the way!), since you're closest, any chance of checking into it for us?:waitasec:
I didn't realize that it was that long ago either. I was thinking in the '60's. I am planning on going over there and snoopin around but it will be a week or so before I get to. In the meantime maybe we'll come up with something online. By the way I think the families name was Sodder.

dacqueri
06-13-2005, 02:03 PM
You were dead on with the name Sodder, evidently it was a Christmas Eve fire..in 1945...they had ten kids, but that was all i could gather from the little blurb you get before you pay...and something about the billboard having 6 children's pictures on it...keep on sleuthing!

Shadow205
06-13-2005, 02:23 PM
http://boards.ancestry.com/mbexec/message/rw/localities.northam.usa.states.westvirginia.countie s.fayette/222.1

Check this link out. I am finding some info. A great grandson of the Sodders has posted here.

Shadow205
06-13-2005, 02:26 PM
http://www.rootsweb.com/%7Ewvrcbiog/WhatReallyHappenedToChildrena.html

dacqueri
06-13-2005, 02:44 PM
http://www.rootsweb.com/%7Ewvrcbiog/WhatReallyHappenedToChildrena.html
Great job, looks like we got the answers we were looking for. But I also believe they were taken, and I also wonder why they never came back. That part of the mystery may never be solved. Great job Shadow205....now maybe I will finally get back to cleaning my office! I took a mental health day off from school today and wanted to clean my office, but spent a majority of my day researching this! I can't thank you enough for finding the answers!:)

annemc2
06-13-2005, 02:58 PM
Wow- most excellent sleuthing, guys!! What a sad and interesting case. It sounds like these people were in a pretty rural area - what would make them the target of a kidnapping like this? Someone would have to know them and their habits very well. Strange.

shadowangel
06-13-2005, 03:06 PM
Great job!!!! This is such a disturbing and mysterious story....Five people just don't disappear!!! Strange, though, I don't remember the sign looking like that...maybe they did put up a new sign? I (kind of) remember the sign having the painted faces of the children down the left side...However, it was several years ago....

Mullins
06-13-2005, 03:40 PM
Wow- most excellent sleuthing, guys!! What a sad and interesting case. It sounds like these people were in a pretty rural area - what would make them the target of a kidnapping like this? Someone would have to know them and their habits very well. Strange.
I agree, excellent to see that article! It's so sad for the parents, and I agree with them...it's just a little too odd not to recover the bones from the fire debris. But what would be the motive? :waitasec: Did the parents or older siblings have any enemies? Did any of the children have life insurance policies? I don't recall them saying so if they did.

dacqueri
06-13-2005, 04:08 PM
The theory about how the fire started sounds plausible, but you guys are right...what would be the motive? Can you imagine if this happened in this day and age? What a CSI episode this story would make! My heart goes out to the parents, and the remaining siblings...i can't imagine their despair, living by tha sign every day as a reminder of their babies...I am sure there were many endless nights sleeping...i don't recall...did they ever rebuild? Move? I can't recall if i read that!


You did great Shadow405...thanks again for making my afternoon more enjoyable than i thought it would! If anyone finds out any more info, please let us know...i never did pay for those articles in the paper (poor and destitute teacher!) but they were dated recently as 1995...so maybe there may have been conversations with family members in it.

Shadow205
06-13-2005, 05:02 PM
60 years ago.......where could they be?

shadowangel
06-13-2005, 08:30 PM
Here's some random thoughts I'm going to throw out...The article mentions five children were missing. The two oldest boys made it out, as did the young girl who was with the mother. There were two younger boys, and three young girls...what about the older girl who brought the presents home?
I'm sorta familiar with the military, and I have never heard of a device like that mentioned here. All grenades have always been made of metal, and the US military never produced a napalm grenade-only large bombs. Napalm was also used in flame throwers. Napalm devices use either white phosphorus or thermite (or thermate) to ignite the napalm, which burn at about 4000 degrees...I don't think a hollow rubber ball is going to survive! (The Us does use an icendiary grenade, which is metal and tubular-it basically ignites and burns in place. I've seen one burn through an auto engine block. I'll speak to a historian at the West Point Museum tomorrow just to be sure, though).
The father was an immigrant from Italy-I don't think his real name is George Sodder. Pretty common for immigrants to "Americanize" their names back then, I'm told.
Keep in mind, the coal fields were a battlefield from the turn of the century and still are to some degree today. Battles between the management and the unions resulted in many deaths (Google the Matewan Massacre for an example). If the father was involved in trucking around the mines, he was a definite target. Also, that area was not the most ethnically tolerant (I still know some folks with robes and hoods hanging in the closet). I'm not bashing WV, in my heart its still home, but facts is facts.
The area is (or was) criss-crossed with rail systems (the tourist stop Hawks Nest overlooks a rail tunnel). If the kidnappers had the trust of the kids, due to the fire, they could have bundled them off to the train and disappeared-selling them into adoption for cheap labor.
I wonder about that oldest daughter, though...

Mullins
06-15-2005, 08:55 AM
That's excellent input. I will look forward to hearing what the historian at West Point has to say. Is there any information on his trucking business? Does anyone know the names of the coal companies that he hauled for?

shadowangel
06-15-2005, 11:22 AM
Haven't heard from the museum, so I'll stop by over the weekend. All my military buddies are skeptical, though. Interestingly, there is a Sodder Coal Co listed on the WV mining website, working mines back into the 1800's. There is also a Sodder Trucking Co still active in the general area of the disappearances. Maybe the wife's family was in the business and the husband took her name when he married? (The article only lists him as an immigrant).

shadowangel
06-20-2005, 07:34 PM
As suspected, no one has heard of any such device. As I understand it, the phones systems at that time in that area were all directed through a switchboard operator who would announce the call when the receiving party picked up-you could not directly ring into someone's home. Makes me wonder how the family got the call from the unidentifed woman.

Mullins
06-22-2005, 02:39 PM
I wonder that, too; and if she was only laughing it may have been that the person answering the phone at the Sodder's overheard another conversation...I know with party lines you could sometimes overhear other conversations faintly. Could the napalm grenade have been brought back from another country following the war? I guess that would be nearly impossible to ever verify. I was looking at the mining website you mentioned and saw where the Sodders (not sure if related) own several mines in Raleigh, Fayette, and Kanawha counties. If the men seen traveling through Fayetteville and Charleston with the kids were planning to kill the children and hide the bodies, it's possible I guess that they may have hidden them in an old mine that was not being used. I just don't understand what the motive would have been for that though. It would make more sense for them to have taken them to Italy (if relatives) or sold them etc. for personal gain. So sad to think such....

shadowangel
06-22-2005, 10:27 PM
Its all so bizarre....the police seeming to have little concern for five missing kids. This one night of all nights the kids are up by themselves, unsupervised. No further mention of the eldest daughter, who was the reason the kids were still up. A device supposedly found which could not exist (napalm was developed in late '42 by the US, and not used by anyone else during the war that I am aware of-and, as I said, rubber would be the LAST thing to make such a device from). Who knows what was going on in that house? Maybe someone thought they were saving the children? Maybe the mother had an inkling of what was about to occur, thus she keeps ONE of the children with her? Children being sold into adoption was, disturbingly, not unheard of in this area, especially in KY and TN just before WWII...However, a connection to the mines seems most likely. The song "16 Tons" isn't far off..."St Peter don't you call me, 'cause I can't go, I sold my soul to the company store"...The mining companies OWNED entire towns, and everything in them-including law enfocement. If the family was working a mine (or for a company) in competion to the local company...

mysteriew
06-23-2005, 01:11 AM
George Sodder was a 50 yo Italian immigrant, who ran a small coal trucking business.
When did he immigrate to the USA?
OK, it is the end of the war. Could there have been ill will due to the fact that he was Italian? Could a returning vet who served in Italy area have been suffering from "shell shock or PTSD" and decided to retaliate? But could not bring himself to hurt the kids. Or a family member of a vet who was fighting in Italy.
He owned a coal trucking business. Did he have employees? Could he have made a customer mad? Or made the coal company mad?
If someone took the kids, they would have had to leave the area immediately.
Kids would have seen the fire and would have been easy to convince that everyone was burned up in the fire.
One other possibility. What was the toys the sister brought them? Could it have been imitation war toys? The balls of fire reminds me of Moltov cocktails. Could the boys have decided to make their own "grenades"? And then seeing the fire, gathered the girls together and run because they knew they would be in trouble?
It was not unheard of for a 16 yo to get a job and be responsible for his family, so the 14 yo could have lied about his age and the circumstances of how his family ended up alone. If so they probably went to the nearest city.

mysteriew
06-23-2005, 03:51 PM
Thinking about this overnight, I see several flaws in my theory.
It would have taken a little bit of time for kids to absorb the fire and and come up with a plan on what to do. They would most likely have shouted for the other family members. There is no discussion from the Mother that she even heard the kids, and Moms listen for things like that even if unconciously (sp). Also a group of 5 kids that age traveling together would have been remembered, and probably commented on later.
But this line of thinking brings up another question. Mom and the little girl and the father and 2 older bros. were asleep. Younger kids were up. The noise was enough to wake Mom up, but she doesn't mention hearing the kids. Shouldn't she have heard them? Things are bouncing on the roof, then there is smoke. Kids are curious and easily excitable.
Were they already out of the house when the whatever got thrown on the roof?

Amateursleuth
07-05-2005, 08:41 PM
Hi! I'm new to posting messages, so please forgive me if I do something wrong. I went to college at WV Tech in Montgomery during the late seventies and travelled through there many times visiting friends. I, too, saw the sign and became intrigued with the case. I'm somewhat familiar with the case, so here is more information for everyone to think about. (I get my info from West Virginia Unsolved Murders.) The oldest daughter, Marion, stayed up later than the other children and fell asleep on the couch. When the mother smelled the smoke, she awakened Marion and had her go to the parents' bedroom and get the youngest child while she attempted to awaken the other children.... There were many suspicious occurrences both during and after that night. One person who acted suspiciously was the fire chief. He even claimed to a by-stander that he had found a human heart and buried it in the ashes. The family heard about this incident and dug up the organ. They took it to an expert, who identified it as a beef liver. Not only wasn't it a human heart, it had never been burned! The liver later disappeared from the expert's house.... The family also recalled a disagreement that they had had a couple months earlier with a man, who threatened their home and their children. The man was upset because the Sodders refused to buy life insurance from him, and he was also upset because Mr. Sodder had been very vocal in his dislike for Mussolini. Mr. Sodder later found out that the man was a member of the coroners jury which ruled the fire as accidental... Many questions were never answered about this case: Where was the ladder that Mr. Sodder insisted was always leaned against the side of the house? Why didn't the two trucks start that night when they worked perfectly the day before? Why was there no sign of the children in the windows during the fire? Why was there no sign of the bodies? (The house only burned 30 - 45 minutes - not long enough to burn the bodies completely.) I guess these questions will never be answered. Does anybody know if any the of the remaining children are still living, and do they still live in Fayette County?

Stacy Horn
09-23-2005, 06:16 PM
I just read this thread. I have never been so instantly drawn to a case. i have nothing to add, but I want to find out more. Amazing story.

shadowangel
09-23-2005, 08:01 PM
The billboard caught the attention and imagination of everyone who saw it. The whole story is just too bizarre to be fiction.

BTW, anyone got a good idea for reaching AmatuerSleuth (who posted a couple of messages up)? He/she has no e-mail address listed (and I never saw this post come up). AS seems to have some really good info I never heard before (and I am a WV Tech alum too!!!)

Stacy Horn
09-24-2005, 08:36 AM
I started looking around last night. The oldest daughter died LAST WEEK. She died on September, 13th. From the obituary I learned that there are two surviving brothers in the area (who I plan to contact). The father died the summer after the 1968 article that was posted in this thread. The mother died as well, but I don't have a date yet.

I contacted someone who particpated in the RootsWeb discussion, who had more information, and he is getting back to me. He's a Dean Emeritus and a former Professor at the University of Dayton who got hooked, so I'm hoping he has some good stuff!

Stacy Horn
09-24-2005, 08:47 AM
I meant to say, AmateurSleuth got his information from a book. "West Virginia Unsolved Murders" is a book by George and Melody Bragg.

Mr. E
09-24-2005, 10:55 AM
I can see that this will be one of those cases that will haunt me . . .


Is Sodder a fairly common name in that area? I found this obit -- didn't know if any of those Sodders were from the same family.

http://www.wvgazettemail.com/section/Obituaries/2005-09-13

The obit was for Mary Ann Crowder, whose parents were George and Jennie Sodder, and who had brothers called John F. and Michael Sodder.

shadowangel
09-24-2005, 10:58 AM
The billboard pictured in articles from the '50s and '60s are not the same as I remember. I remember the billboard having the faces painted along the left side of the billboard. Is it possible someone updated the billboard in the early '70s? (Or, of course, my rememberer is malfunctioning again). I know the sheriff was adamant that the children were completely consumed in the fire.
Stacy-Shadow205 lives in the area, and was talking of travelling through the town for updated information. You might try PMing her to see if she ever did.

quoting Mr. E (that was a great, if short-lived comic, BTW!)--Is Sodder a fairly common name in that area? I found this obit -- didn't know if any of those Sodders were from the same family.
It wasn't all that uncommon...There are a few coal mines still bearing that name, as well as a trucking co. in the area. I believe the family stayed in the business. As I've pointed out, though, George was an immigrant from Italy, I assume he had changed his name upon arriving in the US.

Stacy Horn
09-26-2005, 10:17 AM
Mr. E, that's the obituary I found! That's them.

I am now offically hooked. I have to write about this. I'm going to see if I can interest someone in this story. This is the kind of thing that drew me to writing The Restless Sleep -- the enduring effects of answered death.

Stacy Horn
09-26-2005, 10:30 AM
I just "PMed" Shadow205. Thank you for the suggestion!

shadowangel
09-26-2005, 11:13 AM
I don't know that it would serve as an inspiration, but that area of WV is quite beautiful, especially in the fall. The billboard was close to the town of Hawks Nest, with an amazing view of the New River. The New River Gorge Bridge is also worth a visit. I'm sure there are locals who can give you first-or second-hand accounts of what occured. (No, I don't work for the WV Bureau of Tourism!!!) :angel:

Stacy Horn
09-26-2005, 01:07 PM
I'm not making this up but I have always wanted to take a raft trip down the New River (and another called the Gauley, I think it is). I have a pile of brochures. It's one of those things that I hope to do before I die. I went to school briefly, in Ohio, and I had to pass through West Virginia, and I thought some of what I saw was some of the most beautiful places I had ever seen. And some were incredibly sad (mining remnants).

shadowangel
09-26-2005, 01:56 PM
I was born and raised in WV, my family had been there a billion years or so....

There are few cases from there that boggle the mind. My parents had a close friend who lived in a very rural location in Roane Co. He was discovered dead on his front lawn in the mid-'70s. He had been shot, and a rifle belonging to him was found on the front porch. The bullet had entered his lower back, travelled upward through his body and exited out his chest. The best way to visualize it is to imagine the man on all fours, facing way from the house, and someone on the porch firing downward at an angle at the man. He also had various bruises and cuts on the upper portion of his body.
The death was ruled a suicide.

I'm glad I brought the Sodder case up again, by the way.

Shadow205
09-26-2005, 02:16 PM
I'm not making this up but I have always wanted to take a raft trip down the New River (and another called the Gauley, I think it is). I have a pile of brochures. It's one of those things that I hope to do before I die. I went to school briefly, in Ohio, and I had to pass through West Virginia, and I thought some of what I saw was some of the most beautiful places I had ever seen. And some were incredibly sad (mining remnants).
Stacy,

Well this would be a perfect time to do that rafting. The location where the "Sodder Mystery" took place is less than 20 miles from the greatest rafting in the north east. I am looking for the information that I have on the case and will email you when I find it.

Shadow205
09-26-2005, 02:26 PM
Mr. E, that's the obituary I found! That's them.

I am now offically hooked. I have to write about this. I'm going to see if I can interest someone in this story. This is the kind of thing that drew me to writing The Restless Sleep -- the enduring effects of answered death.
I just read the obit for Mary Ann Crowder. I find it strange that there is no mention of her siblings who supposedly perished in the fire.

<snip>

She was preceded in death by her husband, John Robert “Bob” Crowder; parents, George and Jennie Sodder; and two brothers, John F. and Michael Sodder.

<snip>

Survivors include her brothers and their wives, Joe and Louise Sodder of Fayetteville and George “Ted” Jr. and Elsie Sodder of Falls View; one sister and her husband, Sylvia and Grover Paxton of St. Albans; sister-in-law, Margaret Sodder of Fayetteville; and several nieces and nephews.

Stacy Horn
09-30-2005, 10:14 AM
Shadow205, thank you so much for anything you can find and share! That's so nice of you. Everyone I talk to about this is instantly hooked. There's something about this case. I guess because it involves so many children, and the mystery was never solved, and even though I never saw it, the image of that handmade billboard up for decades, is haunting. It's just such a sad and unanswered tragedy.

Shadow205
09-30-2005, 11:17 AM
Shadow205, thank you so much for anything you can find and share! That's so nice of you. Everyone I talk to about this is instantly hooked. There's something about this case. I guess because it involves so many children, and the mystery was never solved, and even though I never saw it, the image of that handmade billboard up for decades, is haunting. It's just such a sad and unanswered tragedy.
Stacy, click on this link to see a picture of the billboard http://www.rootsweb.com/%7Ewvrcbiog/WhatReallyHappenedToChildrenb.html

shadowangel
09-30-2005, 11:25 AM
Any ideas on what happened to the billboard? When it came down?

Shadow205
09-30-2005, 11:50 AM
Any ideas on what happened to the billboard? When it came down?
The property was sold after the mother's death in 1989. It stood for about 44 years. Such a sad and very strange case. I just found a name of a great-grandson of George & Jennie Sodder, looking for info on him now.

shadowangel
09-30-2005, 12:04 PM
Stacy H.-Here's a link to the Fayetteville library, they may be able to provide you with some additional info...

http://fayette.lib.wv.us/

I was thinking the billboard may have been preserved somewhere, as it was such a landmark in the '60s and '70s...

Shadow205
10-02-2005, 08:40 AM
I met a lady yesterday who lives in the area where the Sodder family mystery ocurred. While she could not provide me with any info that I didn't already know, she is going to ask around and email me if she comes up with anything.

mysteriew
10-02-2005, 08:57 AM
I met a lady yesterday who lives in the area where the Sodder family mystery ocurred. While she could not provide me with any info that I didn't already know, she is going to ask around and email me if she comes up with anything.

Isn't it funny when you have something on your mind and some connection pops up out of nowhere?

Stacy Horn
10-02-2005, 02:34 PM
Wait, I'm confused about the house that was sold in 1989, after the mother died. Was a new house built on the same spot where the first one burned down? Or was it the same house -- and how could that be? If the fire was strong enough to completely consume five children, how could it continue to be inhabitable?

shadowangel
10-02-2005, 03:41 PM
As I remember, there was nothing at all there, just the billboard and an open field. I think she meant the property changed hands and more than likely the area was developed.

Shadow205
10-02-2005, 04:07 PM
Wait, I'm confused about the house that was sold in 1989, after the mother died. Was a new house built on the same spot where the first one burned down? Or was it the same house -- and how could that be? If the fire was strong enough to completely consume five children, how could it continue to be inhabitable?
Stacy,

I'm not positive but the way I understand it, after the fire in 1945, the Sodder family still lived at the same location. I assume that they rebuilt after the fire. I was refering to the billboard which was taken down in 1989 after the death of the mother. The article where I read that said that "the property" was sold after her death. I hope to get over there this coming week. Am planning to take pictures and talk to anyone who will talk to me.

Stacy Horn
10-03-2005, 07:44 AM
You're going to solve the mystery!!

docwho3
10-06-2005, 11:38 PM
http://www.rootsweb.com/%7Ewvrcbiog/WhatReallyHappenedToChildrena.html
I also found what I think is the same reporters name (Niles Jackson) from that article listed in the paper and it is at this website but unfortunately the link to the full story is not yet working. The site was moved from another location & I am guessing they aren't yet finished moving all the files.
http://www.southwesternpub.com/quailcreek.asp

Shadow205
10-07-2005, 09:37 AM
I have started a thread at a local news forum looking for anyone who remembers the Sodder mystery. Hopefully, I will get some replies.

H0NEYWEST
10-07-2005, 02:01 PM
I also found what I think is the same reporters name (Niles Jackson) from that article listed in the paper and it is at this website but unfortunately the link to the full story is not yet working. The site was moved from another location & I am guessing they aren't yet finished moving all the files.
http://www.southwesternpub.com/quailcreek.asp
Here's more on Niles Jackson from Quail Creek:

http://www.quailcreek.org/niles-jackson.htm

Stacy Horn
10-13-2005, 10:00 AM
Shadow205, someone from AOL just emailed me. They gave me some interesting information, like the fact that Unsolved Mysteries contacted the surviving children about doing a piece and the children said that they were not interested in pursuing the case now that their mother was dead. That was maddening. Such exposure may have finally brought answers. How could they not want to try?? Wait a minute. Why *wouldn't* they want to try?

The person who emailed me also had heard about the local thread you started and asked what the address was. She grew up in the area and wanted to participate. Can you tell me the addresss, if it's okay to pass it on to her?

Thank you either way!

Shadow205
10-13-2005, 10:12 AM
Shadow205, someone from AOL just emailed me. They gave me some interesting information, like the fact that Unsolved Mysteries contacted the surviving children about doing a piece and the children said that they were not interested in pursuing the case now that their mother was dead. That was maddening. Such exposure may have finally brought answers. How could they not want to try?? Wait a minute. Why *wouldn't* they want to try?

The person who emailed me also had heard about the local thread you started and asked what the address was. She grew up in the area and wanted to participate. Can you tell me the addresss, if it's okay to pass it on to her?

Thank you either way!
Stacy,

I hate to hear that about the surviving children not wanting to pursue the case. There is still time to reunite the siblings if we could locate them. The thread that I started at http://www.register-herald.com/ has generated some conversation. I am still going to attempt to speak with some of the family. Just let me know when you are ready for me to.

Stacy Horn
10-13-2005, 01:26 PM
You're all absolutely right of course, there's always a chance. They all deserve another look. I was just musing aloud, and thinking strictly realistically. There is almost no chance of any of the older cases being solved.

I was channel surfing last night and caught the very end of the movie Gangs of New York. It’s the 19th century, and it’s a scene in a graveyard overlooking Manhattan. The character (Leo DeCaprio) says something about the fact that they will not be remembered. No one will remember their struggles. And then the camera shows the graveyard and New York changing as time moves forward. New York gets bigger and higher and grander, and the grave stones slowly sink and sink and disappear. It was heartbreaking.

That’s what is happening to those cases (and will happen to all of us). The paper the detectives notes were typed on is fragile and disentegrating. Every year, more and more records are lost or destroyed. No one will remember 19-year-old Cecil Landon, 12-year-old Virginia Walker, and 17-year-old Ream Constance Hoxsie. Pretty soon they will disappear for good.

mysteriew
10-13-2005, 01:34 PM
You're all absolutely right of course, there's always a chance. They all deserve another look. I was just musing aloud, and thinking strictly realistically. There is almost no chance of any of the older cases being solved.

I was channel surfing last night and caught the very end of the movie Gangs of New York. It’s the 19th century, and it’s a scene in a graveyard overlooking Manhattan. The character (Leo DeCaprio) says something about the fact that they will not be remembered. No one will remember their struggles. And then the camera shows the graveyard and New York changing as time moves forward. New York gets bigger and higher and grander, and the grave stones slowly sink and sink and disappear. It was heartbreaking.

That’s what is happening to those cases (and will happen to all of us). The paper the detectives notes were typed on is fragile and disentegrating. Every year, more and more records are lost or destroyed. No one will remember 19-year-old Cecil Landon, 12-year-old Virginia Walker, and 17-year-old Ream Constance Hoxsie. Pretty soon they will disappear for good.

Every year now more and more of the older cases are being solved. The trend toward developing cold case units is working. People who were afraid to speak out at the time of a murder, will sometimes talk 20 yrs or so after the fact, if someone approaches them and asks.
Every day now, I am seeing more cases in the news from back in the '60's, 70's, and 80's. So there is hope.

Stacy Horn
10-13-2005, 03:11 PM
Oops. That post was supposed to go in another item. I'm going to go re-post it there. Sorry!

But you're totally right about how time changes people feeling about talking. Relationships change.

gardenmom
10-15-2005, 02:53 AM
Stacy, click on this link to see a picture of the billboard http://www.rootsweb.com/%7Ewvrcbiog/WhatReallyHappenedToChildrenb.html
This is the picture I remember too. I was really young, but I remember being very scared that children were missing! My granny lived in Montgomery. I also have a book by the Braggs that I just got today and read this story! I was really surprised to see a thread on it. Off topic, but my great grandmother died in the 1932 flood, along with her son, and she was mentioned in the book. Pretty cool. I love history!

I read that someone sent the mom a picture that was supposed to be Louis Sodder when he was about 28, but she didn't pursue it because she was concerned for this safety. Curious, or maybe a cruel joke.

Stacy Horn
10-16-2005, 09:44 AM
It looks like I'm going to be doing this piece! They loved the story, a budget has been submitted, so we'll see. I am so psyched! I might be going to Fayetteville! I'll have to do a ton of research. Who still lives in the area (I forget)?

Shadow205
10-16-2005, 09:50 AM
It looks like I'm going to be doing this piece! They loved the story, a budget has been submitted, so we'll see. I am so psyched! I might be going to Fayetteville! I'll have to do a ton of research. Who still lives in the area (I forget)?
Stacy, that is great news! It is me who lives in the area.

LButler
10-18-2005, 01:04 PM
I have lived my entire life in Summersville, WV, which is about a 30-minute drive to Fayetteville. I can remember visiting the site while I was in HS and being fascinated with the story. The WV Unsolved Murders book came out in 1993 or 94 and I immediately bought one for this story. It's something that comes to my mind every now and again and I was excited to see this thread about it.

I have a friend who was a long-time neighbor of George, Jr., "Ted" and his wife. This friend said that he never mentioned his missing siblings and now he suffers from Alztheimers. She said he took the death of his mother very hard and you wonder about the memories he had to deal with at that time.

Everyone would agree that the entire story is mysterious. However, there are a few things that I have always thought about - the biggest one - How do you "steal" 5 healthy, active kids? Maurice was a 14-year old male. We're not talking about tiny children you could quickly tuck under an arm and leave with. After looking at this again recently, I really believe that they either left of their own free will (ran away) or they left with someone they knew.

One article mentions that perhaps the children were told that the family had died in the fire and they were to go with the abductors. This doesn't make much sense to me. The children were likely abducted shortly before or at the time of the fire being started. I find it hard to believe that a 14-year old would fall for that story just as the fire is getting started.

One other thing, the fire supposed started on the roof. Jennie wakes to find smoke pouring into the first floor bedroom. She goes to the adjoining, first floor room where the phone was located, but it was already fully involved in flames at that point. She then goes to wake George back in their bedroom, then goes to the bottom of the steps to call the children down. The 2 older boys come down the stairs with their hair singed. It seems odd to me that a fire that started on the roof would move to a first floor room and fully engulf it, but at least one room upstairs was escapable and the stairs were still intact?

Where did these kids end up that they never had the desire to return "home"? All of them were old enough to remember their home and family in Fayetteville. The billboard stood until the mother's death some time in 1989. If any did return, they would have seen it?

Sorry for the length of my post. But excited to share my thoughts with fellow "enthusiasts". My friends and family are tired of hearing me talk about it!!

shadowangel
10-18-2005, 01:22 PM
Hi, welcome, and feel free to talk as long as you like! I've been an advocate of the "orphanage kidnapping" theory after researching it some in the past months. Five kids don't just disappear (thought I did find an article by a guy who claims aliens are to blame)...What if a person in authority, a law enforcement officer for example, were involved? He arrives at the scene as the fire is getting out of control, the kids are seperated from their parents, scared, and desperate for direction...He tells the kids to get into his vehicle so that he can take them to a safe place to be reunited with the rest of the family, and then turns them over to someone else who transports them away to their fate? Why kids don't speak up or act out has been discussed here in depth, for instance in the case of Sharon Marshall which I am deeply involved in. For her entire life, Sharon never spoke out against the monster who was molesting her...Possibly the kids were taken far away, told never to return under threat of death (or the death of their siblings). Maybe one or some of them did return, but couldn't make contact for some psychological reason we can't begin to understand...

Remember, this was 1945 and kids were taught to respect authority figures, and many of those figures were happy to take advantage of that. As to the fire, its hard to say exactly where the fire began. Its possible that some time of accelerant was applied to the sides and roof of the home-the fire could have started on the roof, but would have quickly followed the accelerant.

Maybe some answers will finally come to light, all these years later.

LButler
10-18-2005, 02:16 PM
shadow ... the authority figure theory seems reasonable. And, it would play into the FACT that no one in law enforcement was willing to investigate the story. How do you abduct 5 kids without alerting anyone? has always been the one part of the story that I just cannot figure out. Mary Ann (or Mariane, I've seen a few diff spellings) was supposedly asleep on the couch with 5 kids awake and playing and eventually abducted. Maybe she is a deep sleeper and she's asleep through all this. But, the article states that by the time Jennie realized the house was on fire, checked out the second room, returned to the bedroom to wake George, Mary Ann had gotton 3-yr old Sylvia out of that room and was headed outside. Did Jennie yell and wake Mary Ann up at that point? Jennie gets George up. Did Mary Ann not wake her dad when she went into the room to get Sylvia? I honestly find Mary Ann's involvement in this to be a little strange.

Do you happen to have any of the original articles that were written about the story in 1945? I would love to see how the story was reported while everything was fresh in everyone's mind. Also, I would love to find the transcripts of the 1950's hearings. Who initiated the hearings? Who testified? Were death certificates ever issued for the 5 kids?

Shadow205
10-18-2005, 07:35 PM
LButler, welcome to Websleuths! I am glad to see someone else interested in the Sodder Family Mystery. I grew up in WV not far from Fayette county and after 20 years in Florida have recently moved back to WV. I can remember seeing the billboard when I was a kid and I never forgot it. It kind of haunts you. There are so many unanswered questions as to what happened to the children. I hope to find some of the answers.




shadow ... the authority figure theory seems reasonable. And, it would play into the FACT that no one in law enforcement was willing to investigate the story. How do you abduct 5 kids without alerting anyone? has always been the one part of the story that I just cannot figure out. Mary Ann (or Mariane, I've seen a few diff spellings) was supposedly asleep on the couch with 5 kids awake and playing and eventually abducted. Maybe she is a deep sleeper and she's asleep through all this. But, the article states that by the time Jennie realized the house was on fire, checked out the second room, returned to the bedroom to wake George, Mary Ann had gotton 3-yr old Sylvia out of that room and was headed outside. Did Jennie yell and wake Mary Ann up at that point? Jennie gets George up. Did Mary Ann not wake her dad when she went into the room to get Sylvia? I honestly find Mary Ann's involvement in this to be a little strange.

Do you happen to have any of the original articles that were written about the story in 1945? I would love to see how the story was reported while everything was fresh in everyone's mind. Also, I would love to find the transcripts of the 1950's hearings. Who initiated the hearings? Who testified? Were death certificates ever issued for the 5 kids?

Stacy Horn
10-20-2005, 09:01 AM
Hi. My computer is in the shop and I'm here on my SLOW, backup computer, without my notes, or everyone's email address, etc.

But I wanted to stop in and say that NPR approved the budget, so I'm going to be doing this story for their show All Things Considered. I'm so excited. And so grateful to all of you and Websleuths. I love nothing better than getting to sink my teeth into such a haunting, moving story. Personally, that billboard that was up for over 40 years, and the fact that the people who grew up seeing it can't forget it is what drew me to the story, and I plan to talk about this place and the people here who talk about it (if that's okay). Anyway, it's an astounding story, and I just can't get over the fact that I am going to get to tell it. I am so LUCKY. Sometimes.

I've ordered the book West Virginia Unsolved Mysteries (and plan to try to contact the authors after I read the Sodder chapter). I will also try to find all the articles that were written about it in the local papers. I will also be making a list of all the people I would like to talk to, the children, neighbors, local police and firefighters, and you guys (again, if you are willing). This is for radio, not print (although I hope to also be able to write about it, too). So I will be going to West Virgina and recording people. Hopefully.

I may only be here sporadically until my "real" computer comes back from the shop, in hopefully no longer than a week. NPR plans to run this piece Christmas week.

Shadow205
10-20-2005, 10:21 AM
That is great Stacy. It is a story that needs to be told.

Hi. My computer is in the shop and I'm here on my SLOW, backup computer, without my notes, or everyone's email address, etc.

But I wanted to stop in and say that NPR approved the budget, so I'm going to be doing this story for their show All Things Considered. I'm so excited. And so grateful to all of you and Websleuths. I love nothing better than getting to sink my teeth into such a haunting, moving story. Personally, that billboard that was up for over 40 years, and the fact that the people who grew up seeing it can't forget it is what drew me to the story, and I plan to talk about this place and the people here who talk about it (if that's okay). Anyway, it's an astounding story, and I just can't get over the fact that I am going to get to tell it. I am so LUCKY. Sometimes.

I've ordered the book West Virginia Unsolved Mysteries (and plan to try to contact the authors after I read the Sodder chapter). I will also try to find all the articles that were written about it in the local papers. I will also be making a list of all the people I would like to talk to, the children, neighbors, local police and firefighters, and you guys (again, if you are willing). This is for radio, not print (although I hope to also be able to write about it, too). So I will be going to West Virgina and recording people. Hopefully.

I may only be here sporadically until my "real" computer comes back from the shop, in hopefully no longer than a week. NPR plans to run this piece Christmas week.

LButler
10-20-2005, 11:27 AM
That is great news!! I found an article from the Charleston Gazette done on 12-25-95 and it had some info in it that I had never seen before. I had gone back through the article posted here and could only find mention of 9 kids even though they had 10. The "new" article states that Joe was not home from the war at the time but was expected soon. That really struck as tragic considering they have a child surviving and coming home from the war and lose these 5.

Other things that I had not heard before: Mrs. Sodder checked the coal stoves that heated their home after answering the wrong number phone call, then went back to bed. Marion ran to a neighbor's house to call the Fire Dept. after they got outside. It said there was a rumor going around that the 5 kidnapped kids were in a taxi and watched the house burn. A Smithers woman claimed that the kids had been brought to her home after the fire and then someone with Florida license plates came and took them away.

The greatest thing about this article, they talked to or interviewed Sylvia, the 3-yr old at the time of the fire, and she is very interested in seeing the mystery solved. She remembered sitting in the cab of the truck while the house burnt. Granted, she was only 3 and can't provide much info prior to and right at the time of the fire, but she lived with her parents through alot of the years that they searched for the children.

I don't want to insinuate anything ugly about the family here or any ethnic group, but I have wondered about the involvement of the Mafia in this case. Anyone else?

shadowangel
10-20-2005, 11:35 AM
Way cool. I'm glad to see these children finally get some attention.

Shadow205
10-20-2005, 11:49 AM
LButler, I have read that article that was printed in 1995 too. Interesting info in it. Sylvia now lives in St. Albans.



That is great news!! I found an article from the Charleston Gazette done on 12-25-95 and it had some info in it that I had never seen before. I had gone back through the article posted here and could only find mention of 9 kids even though they had 10. The "new" article states that Joe was not home from the war at the time but was expected soon. That really struck as tragic considering they have a child surviving and coming home from the war and lose these 5.

Other things that I had not heard before: Mrs. Sodder checked the coal stoves that heated their home after answering the wrong number phone call, then went back to bed. Marion ran to a neighbor's house to call the Fire Dept. after they got outside. It said there was a rumor going around that the 5 kidnapped kids were in a taxi and watched the house burn. A Smithers woman claimed that the kids had been brought to her home after the fire and then someone with Florida license plates came and took them away.

The greatest thing about this article, they talked to or interviewed Sylvia, the 3-yr old at the time of the fire, and she is very interested in seeing the mystery solved. She remembered sitting in the cab of the truck while the house burnt. Granted, she was only 3 and can't provide much info prior to and right at the time of the fire, but she lived with her parents through alot of the years that they searched for the children.

I don't want to insinuate anything ugly about the family here or any ethnic group, but I have wondered about the involvement of the Mafia in this case. Anyone else?

fox1950
10-21-2005, 06:03 PM
http://www.unsolvedmysteries.com/usm146854.html

Look at this website and put Louis Sodder in the search engine-someone
has posted a search for him.

fox1950
10-21-2005, 09:20 PM
Sorry, I tried this address and it didn't work but if I put use Netscape enhanced by Search Google I can bring up "louis sodder" and it will bring up the posting.

Sorry, it didn't work.

fox1950
10-21-2005, 09:25 PM
Try this: Louis Sodder (http://myusm.com/usm224982.html)
Louis Sodder they were supposed to have died in a fire two miles out of Fayetteville
W V there were five children ages six to fourteen and half a good ...
myusm.com/usm224982.html - 40k - Supplemental Result - Cached (http://64.233.161.104/search?q=cache:TmY6IJ1UQ-cJ:myusm.com/usm224982.html+Louis+Sodder&hl=en) - Similar pages (http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&lr=&rls=HPIC,HPIC:2005-22,HPIC:en&q=related:myusm.com/usm224982.html)

shadowangel
10-21-2005, 09:49 PM
Try this: Louis Sodder (http://myusm.com/usm224982.html)
Louis Sodder they were supposed to have died in a fire two miles out of Fayetteville
W V there were five children ages six to fourteen and half a good ...
myusm.com/usm224982.html - 40k - Supplemental Result - Cached (http://64.233.161.104/search?q=cache:TmY6IJ1UQ-cJ:myusm.com/usm224982.html+Louis+Sodder&hl=en) - Similar pages (http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&lr=&rls=HPIC,HPIC:2005-22,HPIC:en&q=related:myusm.com/usm224982.html)
Welcome to WS!!! Are you from WV? Have you given thought to e-mailing this person and letting them know of our discussion here?

Stacy Horn
10-22-2005, 10:07 AM
Actually someone here found that site, and did email them (I think it was someone here, unless I'm mixing people up). I don't think they've heard anything back yet.

I also have the 1995 article, it gives a great overview. I also now have the George and Melody Bragg book, West Virginia Unsolved Mysteries. They did a good job.

Stacy Horn
10-22-2005, 10:15 AM
I just emailed the person and the email bounced. The address is no longer valid.

LButler
10-22-2005, 10:53 AM
Away all day yesterday. I too found this site about Louis at one point. However, that internet provider (hawksnet, or whatever it was) has been defunct for some time.

I spent some time at the Fayette County Courthouse yesterday. Not much there that we don't already know. They were living in Smithers and bought the Fayetteville property in 1935 and moved. It was 7.5 acres and the property was in Jenny's name only.

Also, went to Beckley to the library and found the original article about the fire in the Beckely Post-Herald. It was first reported on Wed. Dec. 26. Mrs. Sodder and John both stated at this early point that they felt the fire had been set. The article indiates that the fire started at the box where the power came into the house, therefore an electrical fire.

December 28 has a short article about an inquest that was scheduled for the same day because the family felt that the fire had been set. I found no follow-up to that article. The only other mention of this was an article about the community raising funds and getting items they needed donated to help them.

Didn't have much time yesterday so that is all I was able to locate.

shadowangel
10-22-2005, 09:15 PM
I don't want to insinuate anything ugly about the family here or any ethnic group, but I have wondered about the involvement of the Mafia in this case. Anyone else?
I personally don't think the Mafia had any involvement, but there are other points in that vein that may warrant discussion. Being in the "heartland", people there are patriotic, to say the least. In this period, just at the end of WWII, anti-German, Japanese, and Itilian feelings were still running deep. And, moreover, people in some areas of WV are not shy about showing their prejudices.
As I haved pointed out previously, the coal fields were a battlefield all their own. There were many deaths over the years directly attributable to battles over mine rights, unionization, etc. The miners fought the mine owner's agents, the agents fought the miners, and everyone fought the independent workers-non-union truckers, for exampe. Running an independent trucking business in the coal fields of the early 20th Century was dangerous business. If someone were determined to get rid of Sodder, they may have seen this as an opportunity to make some cash at the children's expense...

LButler
10-23-2005, 12:17 PM
I think the "coal war" angle has some merit. However, the Sodders are expecting Joe home from the war any time, John has just returned and George has been very vocal about his dislike of Mussolini, so I don't believe they would have been a target from the "American" part of their community. I think that put them in more danger from his fellow Italians and there was a rather large population of Italians here at the time. Also, from the articles that I read from the Register in 45 and 46, they were very well-liked in their community and people rallied around them to help in their time of need.

The Mafia angle has just been on my mind because I feel like it would have taken some type of "network" of people to pull this off. 5 kids missing, the mysterious wrong number, the telephone line cut later, someone starting the fire, someone "staged" to be stealing from them during the fire, the fire chief lying at every opportunity, the supposed "sightings" of the kids soon after the fire.... This involved several people who can keep their mouths shut for a long time. There were people in this small community who knew the answers to this mystery.

fox1950
10-23-2005, 03:17 PM
No I do not live in West Virginia right now but I was born in Fayette County.
I think there has been some very good points made here in recent posts.
After looking up and reading the Charleston Gazette article there had been threats made by this one person to Mr. Sodder. It had something to gain, although it is not clear, if Mr. Sodder no longer existed. This man has never be named in any articles I have read. but fire chief J.F. Morris has been mentions on several occassions. The man stated and I quote "I see you have refused to take out life insurance and refuse to sign the papers to settle Mrs. Sodder's father's estate. Your ****** 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!" In one report the Fayette County prosecutor stated that he did not want to open a case against the people he had to live with and eat with". Did he know who did it. I think it probably had a good idea since he made this statement. Today, the person who made the treat against Mr. Sodder would be investigated...and investigated.

I think the greatest mystery is why the children never came home. Were they afraid of their abductors and later learned to care about them? Were they told lies? Or did they never know who really did this to them?
Did they know and trust this person before it happened and felt too guilty later to tell the story? Were they separated or kept together?

After sixty years, it is not to late to investigate. No one is living now that committed this crime. That we can be pretty sure of. However,
I think there needs to be some kind of closure to this case. No one can be punished. I am sure everyone is deceased now. So why doesn't someone tell the story if nothing else but to let the sister who was a baby know.

LButler
10-23-2005, 04:37 PM
fox ... my sentiments exactly. I would never dig into this case to see someone punished at this point. I just can't quit thinking about it because the answers are still out there. 5 healthy kids cannot just vanish into the night, no bodies were ever found, without someone talking and giving clues to someone. If this case were to happen today, I agree, the local politicians would not be intimidated into being quiet about it - I hope!!

shadowangel
10-23-2005, 04:48 PM
Whatever did happen, it appears to have been well-organized and would have taken the assistance of several people...Phone call to the home, then the phone not working, the trucks not starting...The fire engulfing the home so quickly, and most of all no one seing the children leaving.

I can think of a few reasons why the children never returned home or contacte anyone...Threats,a gainst either the individual children or the group as a whole, the children being taken out of country, or being told their parnts perished, and being "brainwashed" into new lives...

There also, of course, exists the most heartbreaking possiblity...That the children never survived the night. Disposing of five children would not have been so difficult in that day. Especially given the relative "wildness" of sevral parts of WV, the many mines in existence...
I think many, many dark secrets have gone to the grave with former residents of the area....

Just thinking, isn't it odd that this Christmas marks the 60th anniversary of this event? And that this year we would all find ourselves so interested in it? I wonder if the local TV news or papers plan to do any stories, as they appeared to have done on the 50th anniversary in '95?

Stacy Horn
10-24-2005, 10:43 AM
I'm not sure if I posted this, but I don't know about the Mafia angle either. I studied the Mafia for my last book, and it doesn't fit what I learned. But then again, I wasn't even aware that the Mafia was in West Virginia, so perhaps the culture of the Mafia in West Virginia is different than the rest of the country, and besides, even though there was a code, well, I don't have to tell you guys. I got to know a bunch of Mafia experts though, so I plan to ask them their opinion.

I've heard all the possible reasons for why the kids never came back or contacted their family, but none of them really feel completely satisfactory, do they? Especially the two oldest, Maurice and Martha Lee, who were 15 and 12. Regardless of what they were told, and even if they all left voluntarily.

Nothing about this story adds up. None of the motives put forward, none of the possible explanations, everyone's actions, including the family's. It's a mystery on every level. To me, anyway. It's like a completely implausible, badly written book. Nothing makes sense. Except the fact that people, understandably, can't forget it.

fox1950
10-24-2005, 07:19 PM
I hope some paper or all paper in the area will do an article this Christmas.

Here's one idea about the children-Maybe all was set to do this, well organized and everything. However, the children were outside when someone came to burn the house. Now what would you do with them? You couldn't take them back into the house and proceed with your plans. However, you could take them away and murder them later. The only problem-why would anyone come to the house while the lights were still on and knew someone was still up.

It's like a dog chasing it's tail-just about when you've caught it, it slips away again.

:banghead: :banghead:

Stacy Horn
10-25-2005, 08:06 AM
Shadowangel, you once mentioned selling the kids into adoption as a possible motive, and that this sort of thing wasn't unheard of in the area at the time. I wanted to ask you about that. It's always been my experience that older kids are difficult to adopt out. Who would buy them?

The more I think about it, the more I think you are right that they didn't survive the night. But what would be the motive for killing them??

shadowangel
10-25-2005, 09:40 AM
Shadowangel, you once mentioned selling the kids into adoption as a possible motive, and that this sort of thing wasn't unheard of in the area at the time. I wanted to ask you about that. It's always been my experience that older kids are difficult to adopt out. Who would buy them?

The more I think about it, the more I think you are right that they didn't survive the night. But what would be the motive for killing them??
Keep in mind the time period we are speaking of. Some people who adopted children weren't looking for someone to love, and nurture...They were, in effect, looking for cheap labor. Girls for housekeeping, boys for long, hard days in the field.
As to motive...If someone did have a vendetta against George, this would certainly deliver a message. It would be interesting to know if George continued the trucking business after this. (I believe something was mentioned in one of the articles, but my three active brain cells can't recall at the moment). Or, to cover up what had occured? Possibly the children, who would normally have been asleep at the time, saw something they weren't meant to. Several things were happening in the house that were not within the usual routine...The children being up late, the older sister being with them, the mother taking the youngest child with her to bed...
Its almost as though someone chose Christmas Eve as that is when one would expect the entire family to be together.

Off topic...Since we're discussing WV, has anyone ever heard of Lake Shawnee, located near Princeton? In the late 1700's, it was the site of the murder of two children by Shawnee indians. In the 1920's, an amusement park was built there. It was the scene of some strange deaths involving children. A newspaper article, citing the drowning death of a boy, used the term "mysteries continue" in relation to the park. It was shut down in 1966 (the year I was born in WV...) I was wondering if anyone had heard of the place before I go digging. I lived there 20 years and never heard of it.

Stacy Horn
10-25-2005, 10:50 AM
I was just coming back here to ask about George's trucking business. Does anyone have any specific information about it? What they hauled? The name of the business?

upallnite
10-25-2005, 11:15 AM
Is this the "still active trucking company"?
http://www.askyp.com/Company/1001466267.php

Stacy Horn
10-25-2005, 11:24 AM
I will call and see -- thank you!!

shadowangel
10-25-2005, 11:30 AM
If you look back at one of my earler posts, not only is their a Sodder Trucking, there is also a George Sodder mine, still active, located in the Beckley area.

Here's a link to a site mentioning the George Sodder Coal Co...
http://www.wvc.state.wv.us/got/mhst/coresults.cfm?company=Sodder%20C%2E%20Co%2E%2C%20G eorge

and a link to the WV Mine Safety site, which gives some interesting background and history on the industry:
http://www.wvminesafety.org/default.htm

Just follow the links on the site.

Shadow205
10-25-2005, 11:42 AM
Keep in mind the time period we are speaking of. Some people who adopted children weren't looking for someone to love, and nurture...They were, in effect, looking for cheap labor. Girls for housekeeping, boys for long, hard days in the field.
As to motive...If someone did have a vendetta against George, this would certainly deliver a message. It would be interesting to know if George continued the trucking business after this. (I believe something was mentioned in one of the articles, but my three active brain cells can't recall at the moment). Or, to cover up what had occured? Possibly the children, who would normally have been asleep at the time, saw something they weren't meant to. Several things were happening in the house that were not within the usual routine...The children being up late, the older sister being with them, the mother taking the youngest child with her to bed...
Its almost as though someone chose Christmas Eve as that is when one would expect the entire family to be together.

Off topic...Since we're discussing WV, has anyone ever heard of Lake Shawnee, located near Princeton? In the late 1700's, it was the site of the murder of two children by Shawnee indians. In the 1920's, an amusement park was built there. It was the scene of some strange deaths involving children. A newspaper article, citing the drowning death of a boy, used the term "mysteries continue" in relation to the park. It was shut down in 1966 (the year I was born in WV...) I was wondering if anyone had heard of the place before I go digging. I lived there 20 years and never heard of it.
I remember Lake Shawnee Shadowangel. The frames of the rides stood for many years. It was not a large amusement park. I remember it having a ferris wheel and one of those rides with the swings. There was a picnic area and a small area for swimming. I think that my parents took me there once when I was a young child or maybe I just remember driving by it.

While looking for info I found this:

"Scariest Places on Earth," hosted by Linda Blair, which investigates two creepy urban legends. Young visitors go to Lizzie Borden's notorious home in Fall River, Mass., where her mom and dad were brutally murdered with an ax. Also shivery is a nighttime exploration of the reputedly haunted Lake Shawnee Amusement Park in West Virginia, which was built on the site of an Indian massacre.

Lake Shawnee: Is it one of the scariest places on earth? ABC show thinks so...
Posted: Monday, Aug 22, 2005 - 05:51:04 pm EDT
By BARBARA HAWKINS

Mercer County will be a site for an upcoming segment of ABC's "Scariest Places on Earth," according to people who met with the producer, Aaron Yampolski and his staff a few weeks ago.

Apparently the ABC affiliated company insisted on secrecy ... but like most secrets, word leaked.

The Mercer County Convention & Visitors Bureau has confirmed the reports. Meetings have been held and plans made.

According to our friends at the MCCVB, Yampolski contacted them saying he wanted to do a show about Lake Shawnee, the Indian burial grounds and the Clay Family Massacre ... and wanted more information about local people and historians.
more at the link http://www.bdtonline.com/articles/2005/08/23/editorials/editorial_columns/01tuesbarb.txt

LButler
10-25-2005, 11:46 AM
It is my understanding that Sodder Trucking existed until recent years (confirmed by a friend) and may still be in operation today. And, there are several mine permits listed under "Sodder" on the mining web site.

shadowangel
10-25-2005, 11:51 AM
I remember Lake Shawnee Shadowangel.
"Scariest Places on Earth," hosted by Linda Blair, which investigates two creepy urban legends. Young visitors go to Lizzie Borden's notorious home in Fall River, Mass., where her mom and dad were brutally murdered with an ax. Also shivery is a nighttime exploration of the reputedly haunted Lake Shawnee Amusement Park in West Virginia, which was built on the site of an Indian massacre.


This is where I heard about it. Some of the buildings are still standing, as is the ferris wheel! Also, there is a swing set, which when in operation went around at a high rate of speed. It was reported that a truck, making deliveries to the park, accidentally backed up into the path of the swings, and a young girl was killed when she struck the truck...I was just really surprised that I never heard of the place.

upallnite
10-25-2005, 12:18 PM
guys, I'm confused, how many children are missing? This obit for Mary Ann 'Marion' Crowder confused me even more. Scroll down to Crowder.
http://www.montgomery-herald.com/obituaries/local_story_259121615.html

LButler
10-25-2005, 12:26 PM
5 children were missing after the fire. 5 survived. I saw the reference to "Michael" in her obit and the only thing I could come up with was that they had another child after the fire? Sylvia was only 3 at the time of the fire, so it is possible that they would have another. But, he must have died young to have been deceased before some of the others!! I agree, that confused me as well!!

upallnite
10-25-2005, 12:38 PM
It seems to me like the obits saying John and Michael Sodder died before Marion. Also it lists Joe, George jr. and Sylvia as survivors. Who is missing?

LButler
10-25-2005, 12:43 PM
First, the 5 missing children are not mentioned in this obit. Counting Marion, there are 6 listed in this obit. I just had a thought - maybe Michael died before the fire as a young child?

upallnite
10-25-2005, 12:47 PM
Ok, sorry guys, but I'm playing catch up. Listed in the news article, missing children are Louis, Betty and Maurice and another name on the billboard that I can't make out. Is it June?

LButler
10-25-2005, 12:48 PM
The 5 missing children were:

Maurice Louis Jenny Martha Betty

They do not list these kids as either living or deceased in any of the family obits. However, "Michael" seems to be the mystery person in this obit. I have a copy of Jenny's obit (mother Jenny, not the daughter) and it lists only her living children as of her death in 1989.

shadowangel
10-25-2005, 01:40 PM
The 5 missing children were:

Maurice Louis Jenny Martha Betty

They do not list these kids as either living or deceased in any of the family obits. However, "Michael" seems to be the mystery person in this obit. I have a copy of Jenny's obit (mother Jenny, not the daughter) and it lists only her living children as of her death in 1989.
...And the surviving were Joe, John, Goerge Jr, Marion, and Sylvia. According to the obit, Marion was "preceeded in death" by John and Michael. It seems most likely that Michael died early on, as George was already fifty when the tragedy occured. I haven't seen any mention that either George Sr or his wife were married previously.

Back to a point I brought previously. The first news article posted in this thread states that the couple had decided to retire from their small coal-trucking business that Christmas Eve. That would be the day before the fire. Possibly something was happening to pressure them out of the business? It seems odd that a 50 year-old with 10 kids, eight of them under 18, would decide to retire. Even if he were turning the business over the oldest boys.

Marilynilpa
10-25-2005, 01:49 PM
snip

Back to a point I brought previously. The first news article posted in this thread states that the couple had decided to retire from their small coal-trucking business that Christmas Eve. That would be the day before the fire. Possibly something was happening to pressure them out of the business? It seems odd that a 50 year-old with 10 kids, eight of them under 18, would decide to retire. Even if he were turning the business over the oldest boys.
That's a very good point. Is there any indication that Mr. Sodder had some sort of health problem that prevented him from continuing to work?

shadowangel
10-25-2005, 01:53 PM
That's a very good point. Is there any indication that Mr. Sodder had some sort of health problem that prevented him from continuing to work?
The articles don't say, just that the couple had decided to retire. One article from NewspaperArchive.com mentions a report that someone observed the children in the company of four Italian men...How they knew they were Italian, I don't know.

LButler
10-25-2005, 02:11 PM
I think the article meant that they had decided to retire early as in going to bed early that night. I didn't get the impression anywhere that they were retiring from the trucking company.

shadowangel
10-25-2005, 02:19 PM
I think the article meant that they had decided to retire early as in going to bed early that night. I didn't get the impression anywhere that they were retiring from the trucking company.That's very possible, its all in the wording of the article. Just a small detail, anyways. :)

And now that I've re-read it, I'm quite sure you are right. (I am man, hear me duh).
I wonder why the mother took the three-year old with her instead of letting her play with the others? Would she normally have slept upstairs with the other children?

LButler
10-25-2005, 02:26 PM
The whole point of the story is how the kids wanted to stay up later to play with their Christmas toys, but George and Jenny had decided to retire early to bed. That is my interpretation of "retiring early" in the article and the book simply says "the parents decided to retire for the evening to their downstairs bedroom."

shadowangel
10-25-2005, 02:30 PM
That'll teach me to actually go back and read the thing instead of trying to go by memory. Like I have any of that left. :waitasec:

LButler
10-25-2005, 02:31 PM
The book says that Jenny insisted that Sylvia lay down in her bed in the parent's bedroom. I think she slept there everynight for the safety of not having a 2 or 3 year old climbing up and down the stairs. Also, I think Jenny wanted her to go to bed with them because it's 10 pm (late for a baby that age) and the fact that she wouldn't have to worry that the older children were not watching out for her. The article also suggests that the children may have been playing or, at least, going outside because she reminds them to feed the cows and close the chicken coop. Not very good weather for a 3 year old to be out in with a bunch of kids for a chaperon.

Shadow205
10-25-2005, 02:43 PM
The articles don't say, just that the couple had decided to retire. One article from NewspaperArchive.com mentions a report that someone observed the children in the company of four Italian men...How they knew they were Italian, I don't know.

hmmm, maybe they didn't talk like hillbilly's!:laugh:

LButler
10-25-2005, 03:04 PM
The article states that they were in the company of "Italian SPEAKING" men. I don't remember this being mentioned in the book.

LButler
10-25-2005, 03:11 PM
Oh, to correct myself, the book says that a woman from Charleston called to report that she had seen the kids in Charleston the day after the fire with an Italian family. My guess is, if this is a true "sighting", the abductors would be speaking Italian so that others couldn't hear their conversation. It's possible that the kids didn't even speak Italian unless George and Jenny taught them. Thus, being called "Italians." Plus, first generation Italians in 1945 would probably been pretty easy to ID.

fox1950
10-25-2005, 06:02 PM
That is correct. The children were seen with an Italian speaking women or family. However, I did read somewhere, I think in a 1967 detective magazine that someone spotted the children with an Italian speaking lady either near Charleston or White Sulpher Springs that night. Remember 1967 was a long time ago so it wasn't exactly last week I read this, but I did read it. Makes you wonder if they were taken out of the country. Does anyone have a copy of the magazine or know where one can be located. I think was a title on the front something like "WV's greatest mystery.

Also if you look on the Fayette County Board a John has posted about comparing the Sodder boy "Louis" with the picture of the man received in 1967 after the detective magazine came out. This man was supposed to be Louis and the posting states with age progression technically someone could conclude to some point if this was Louis or Maurice. I must say it looks a lot like Maurice.

LButler
10-26-2005, 02:10 PM
fox ... i've found someone via the internet who is doing a search for that detective magazine for me. i'd love to see the article. I've read all the articles and the WV Unsolved Murders story about it probably a hundred times. I can't get away from this story. Do you actually have this magazine? Or, at least a magazine title and date of publication?

I don't have a good copy of the 67 or 68 photo, but from looking at a 75 article featuring the billboard, it does look more like Maurice than Louis. It could be that Maurice's original photo is of a fairly "mature" person and Louis looks so young?

Which Fayette County board did you see the posts from Jonathan? Would like to see that as well.

LButler
10-26-2005, 02:12 PM
fox .... sorry, just read your post a little closer and see that you are looking for it too. I'll be happy to share it if I can locate it.

Shadow205
10-26-2005, 03:40 PM
LButler,

Here is the link for the Fayette board that I started a thread on a couple of weeks ago. I have gotten some interesting replies including one from Jonathan Bandy who is a Great-Grandson of George & Jennie Sodder.

http://community.cnhi.com/groupee/forums/a/tpc/m/21910077/r/81310238/f/8671088#81310238

fox ... i've found someone via the internet who is doing a search for that detective magazine for me. i'd love to see the article. I've read all the articles and the WV Unsolved Murders story about it probably a hundred times. I can't get away from this story. Do you actually have this magazine? Or, at least a magazine title and date of publication?

I don't have a good copy of the 67 or 68 photo, but from looking at a 75 article featuring the billboard, it does look more like Maurice than Louis. It could be that Maurice's original photo is of a fairly "mature" person and Louis looks so young?

Which Fayette County board did you see the posts from Jonathan? Would like to see that as well.

LButler
10-26-2005, 04:25 PM
thanks for the link! I think I have found some family members here in my hometown as well. Oddly enough, a cousin of the missing kids is now married to a cousin of mine. I'm gonna give him a call to see if the family talked about the case, what their theory was... small world.

Stacy Horn
10-26-2005, 05:11 PM
That thread that Shadow205 started is AMAZING. I'd love to hear anything your cousin has to say, if you don't mind sharing it!

LButler
10-26-2005, 05:35 PM
No problem, I will share whatever I find out. As for the other forum, that IS a good one and I have posted there as well. It sounded as though the 1968 photo had been posted somewhere and that's what threw me. PS I'm "hess" on that one.

As for my small world comment earlier, I mentioned this to a lady I've known for years and she also had met one of the siblings in her travels but he seemed very willing to talk about it. Unfortunately, we couldn't pin down exactly which sib she had met.

I'm beginning to believe that the Sodders pretty much knew who took the children, but could get no justice against them. I think the billboard was used as a means to "shame" local law enforcement for not having the grit to stand up against them. Once again, this takes me back to my Mafia theory. I have heard plenty of stories that indicates organized crime was alive and well in the Smithers, Montgomery....area of Fayette County well into the 1960's and 70's. In fact, George and Jenny bought the property in Fayetteville in 1935 (put in her name only) and moved there from Smithers. Martha and Maurice were listed as being born in Smithers on their death certificates and the younger 3 in Fayetteville.

fox1950
10-26-2005, 07:04 PM
fox ... i've found someone via the internet who is doing a search for that detective magazine for me. i'd love to see the article. I've read all the articles and the WV Unsolved Murders story about it probably a hundred times. I can't get away from this story. Do you actually have this magazine? Or, at least a magazine title and date of publication?

I don't have a good copy of the 67 or 68 photo, but from looking at a 75 article featuring the billboard, it does look more like Maurice than Louis. It could be that Maurice's original photo is of a fairly "mature" person and Louis looks so young?

Which Fayette County board did you see the posts from Jonathan? Would like to see that as well.
I agree with you. It could look more that Maurice because he is older. I thought about that too. No, I do not know where you can find the detective magazine. I know I had a copy when it first came out, however, through many moves it has been lost. I know of one other copy someone had-an aunt of a friend. She sent her copy to "Unsolved Mysteries". When they contacted the eldest brother, John (I think) he did not want to do the story. Probably thought it was another prank or something, since now I read that the baby sister is interested in where the children went. Remember, this was in the early to mid 1990-s and caller ID were just getting started. So perhaps John thought it was a prank. I've been looking on E-bay, willing to pay what it's costs to purchase it, but I have been unable to find it. Remember, until recently you could buy detective magazines-they came out monthly. Some of the younger folks don't know that. I was hooked on detective magazines, still look for old ones at flea markets, etc. but can't seem to locate any old one except on ebay.

As for the man looking like the Sodders, he certainly does. Have tried to decode the message on the back-"Louis Sodder", "I love brother Frankie"
ilil boys, "A90132 or 35". Don't know what it means. Of course, a lot of people could look like the Sodders and it could have been an ugly prank. Only a expert would know for sure. I think I heard or read recently it was mail from Kentucky.

Fayette County Geneology Board has some postings-as well as Jonathan used to have a site. Don't know if Jonathan's site is still there. I put in Sodder family forum and found it a long time ago. Good luck!

Shadow205
10-26-2005, 07:06 PM
No problem, I will share whatever I find out. As for the other forum, that IS a good one and I have posted there as well. It sounded as though the 1968 photo had been posted somewhere and that's what threw me. PS I'm "hess" on that one.

As for my small world comment earlier, I mentioned this to a lady I've known for years and she also had met one of the siblings in her travels but he seemed very willing to talk about it. Unfortunately, we couldn't pin down exactly which sib she had met.

I'm beginning to believe that the Sodders pretty much knew who took the children, but could get no justice against them. I think the billboard was used as a means to "shame" local law enforcement for not having the grit to stand up against them. Once again, this takes me back to my Mafia theory. I have heard plenty of stories that indicates organized crime was alive and well in the Smithers, Montgomery....area of Fayette County well into the 1960's and 70's. In fact, George and Jenny bought the property in Fayetteville in 1935 (put in her name only) and moved there from Smithers. Martha and Maurice were listed as being born in Smithers on their death certificates and the younger 3 in Fayetteville.
So there is death certificates? I wondered about that. Interesting.

fox1950
10-26-2005, 08:11 PM
Yes, Butler, put in Fayette County Gen. Forum-put in the name Sodder on all forums and you will find several messages related to the mystery. However, you will have to weed through them-there are others named Sodder who have posted that are not related to the mystery.

shadowangel
10-26-2005, 08:22 PM
Has anything been discovered which states when the son in the military actually returned home?

Shadow205
10-26-2005, 09:09 PM
Fox, check out this web site, he has an extensive list of old detective magazines. I sent him an email, he does not have the issue in stock with the Sodder mystery in it but was familiar with the story. He will email me if he can locate the issue. http://www.patterson-smith.com/MagList.htm

I agree with you. It could look more that Maurice because he is older. I thought about that too. No, I do not know where you can find the detective magazine. I know I had a copy when it first came out, however, through many moves it has been lost. I know of one other copy someone had-an aunt of a friend. She sent her copy to "Unsolved Mysteries". When they contacted the eldest brother, John (I think) he did not want to do the story. Probably thought it was another prank or something, since now I read that the baby sister is interested in where the children went. Remember, this was in the early to mid 1990-s and caller ID were just getting started. So perhaps John thought it was a prank. I've been looking on E-bay, willing to pay what it's costs to purchase it, but I have been unable to find it. Remember, until recently you could buy detective magazines-they came out monthly. Some of the younger folks don't know that. I was hooked on detective magazines, still look for old ones at flea markets, etc. but can't seem to locate any old one except on ebay.


As for the man looking like the Sodders, he certainly does. Have tried to decode the message on the back-"Louis Sodder", "I love brother Frankie"
ilil boys, "A90132 or 35". Don't know what it means. Of course, a lot of people could look like the Sodders and it could have been an ugly prank. Only a expert would know for sure. I think I heard or read recently it was mail from Kentucky.

Fayette County Geneology Board has some postings-as well as Jonathan used to have a site. Don't know if Jonathan's site is still there. I put in Sodder family forum and found it a long time ago. Good luck!

shadowangel
10-26-2005, 10:31 PM
I also know someone who collects old detective mags-he claims "if he ain't got it, it weren't printed". I'll reach out to him.

It would be interesting to find out if the youngest daughter has any memory of the "incendiary device" she was reported to have found, and what finally became of it...

Shadow205
10-27-2005, 12:12 AM
I have found some very interesting reading concerning the West Virginia Mine Wars & Italian Immigrants. The article at this link is very long but really offers some insight as to what life was like in Fayette county in the early 1900's. Well worth reading. http://www.marshall.edu/csega/piecingittogether/Papers%20in%20.pdf%20and%20.doc%20formats/MineWars.pdf



This is an exerpt from another article:
Unionization had always met fierce resistance from coal operators, who used eviction, termination, blacklisting, yellow dog contracts, court injunctions, coercion, and intimidation to prevent workers from joining unions and to stifle union organizers. By the early twentieth century, especially in the eastern United States, coal operators held and exercised exclusive political control and strongly influenced local and state governments, literally dictating state policies that would insure coal profits, prevent labor organization, and guarantee a passive work force. more at this link http://www.geocities.com/MadisonAvenue/Boardroom/4278/wvh.htm

These articles really make me wonder just who Mr. Sodder might have had a conflict with. We know that he had a trucking company so odds are that his work was in some way related to the coal industry. Though the mining wars took place in the 1920's, things were still not that smooth between the coal operators and the union.

Stacy Horn
10-27-2005, 08:10 AM
I found that, too! I'm trying to get some definitive information about the mafia presence in West Virginia. I've reached out to a number of people, and am waiting to hear, but so far I haven't been able to confirm that there was organized crime in West Virginia in 1945.

Someone suggested trying to find out who the crime reporters were in the area at the time, they'd know.

Lbutler, how did you hear about the mafia in Smithers and Mountgomery? And how on earth did you get to see the death certificates for the children??

And Shadow205, I love that you tracked down the 1967 detective magazine!! So excitiing!!

Stacy Horn
10-27-2005, 09:01 AM
Okay, just heard from someone who would know, and he confirms that the mafia had a presence in West Virginia in 1945. I'll post more details when I have them.

shadowangel
10-27-2005, 11:20 AM
Most mine owners/operators used independent truckers, such as Sodder, to transport their coal from the mine to either processing facilites or to the railroad for transport out of state. These truckers were seen as agents of the mine owners, and to the unionized miners they were targets. Same today as it was then, there are still stories of the drivers being shot at during strikes.

If there was Mafia involvement in those days, it most likely was directed toward these independent truckers (much as with trucking in other parts of the country, or sanitation [garbage] trucking in NYC).
There was a large influx of Italian, German, and Polish immigrants into the area in the early part of the 1900's, destined for work in the mines. Loyalty to their home countries among some of these immigrants probably remained strong. I can understand strife developing between immigrants who remained loyal to their home countries and those who fully embraced their new home. Sometimes immigrants were the most outspoken in their devotion to their new home.

Shadow205
10-27-2005, 12:37 PM
http://www.rootsweb.com/%7Ewvrcbiog/No4a.jpg

Does anyone have aprogram that they might be able to use to clean up this picture a little? I would love to know what all of the writting says.

Marilynilpa
10-27-2005, 01:00 PM
http://www.rootsweb.com/%7Ewvrcbiog/No4a.jpg

Does anyone have aprogram that they might be able to use to clean up this picture a little? I would love to know what all of the writting says.
I can't make out all of it, hopefully someone can clean this up a little.

It's obvious the Sodders felt their children were kidnapped and the house was set on fire to cover up the crime. For some reason, I hadn't been looking at it that way. I thought the house was set on fire for another reason, and the kidnapping was a crime of opportunity - the kids were outside, someone took them. But maybe I was looking at it wrong, and the kidnapping was the primary reason for the fire - someone wanted to make it seem that the kids had perished in the house fire.

A $10,000 reward was a heck of a lot of money back then. I wonder where the money came from?

LButler
10-27-2005, 02:55 PM
I'll answer several questions in one post ....

Death certificates of the children - I went to the Fayette County Courthouse and looked up the death records that are public info. So, not to mislead, there were not the actual certificates, just what is on file with the county.

Mafia knowledge - when you've lived your entire life in one place, some things are just "known." My dad has been in the coal business his entire life, he's worked for some Italians, people know things that went on within these communities. A good friend of mine grew up in Montgomery, her dad had a business, they were catholic, they dealt with the Italians all the time. Small town "knowledge" of how and why things happen. Which has always stumped me why no one knew the answer to the missing kids. PS in the 60's in Smithers WV - 15% of the population was irish, 14% was Italian, next largest group, English 8%.

I'm still not convinced on the union, coal war angle. Normally, the only violence that took place would be at the site of an actual "picket." I had a family member killed in the Widen, WV skirmish. These were really hard-working, god-fearing people that had families and I have not heard any accounts of violence against innocent children in regards to the coal wars. I asked my dad about that angle as well and he doesn't go with it either. Also, I don't think anything that happened as a result of a coal skirmish could have been kept quiet for all these years. this abduction and cover-up had some sophistication or expertise to it and most of the coal miners were not even high school graduates at the time. I just don't think we're looking at a group that could pull this off. It was between mine owners (who did not want the unions) and the workers who fought to have the mines unionized (for better wages, safety...). I can't see a trucker so embroiled in it that his home would have been burnt and his children taken. Just my opinion on that.

The picture of Louis that arrived in 1968 was postmarked Central City, KY. I too have tried to decoded the message on the back of the picture. It struck me as being written by a child or someone unfamiliar with English. I would love to see the actual handwriting.

I have also contacted the Patterson guy with the detective mags trying to locate the ONE. He's working on it.

I have seen a better picture of the original billboard that is in the article (the link that is posted here). The one in the book is the second one they erected after the picture of Louis arrived. I will do my best to locate that "better" photo (I can remember that you could read it) and post what the billboard said.

LButler
10-27-2005, 03:04 PM
Oh, one other thing...I think that the $10K reward was probably put up by the family. Lots of people became millionaires in the coal business in the 30's and 40's (plenty of them still around) and it was a good business to be in at that time. Also, her maiden name was Cipriani and her family was in Smithers. The Italians in the Smithers/Montgomery/Charleston area were VERY wealthy.

Stacy Horn
10-27-2005, 05:29 PM
A soon-to-be new member of this forum asked me to let everyone know that her husband, a professional photograper, is going to try to clean up the photograph!

What a great place this is, that it brings all these people with so many different and useful skills together.

Shadow205
10-27-2005, 05:50 PM
Stacy, that is great! It looks like there is alot of information on there if we could just read it.

A soon-to-be new member of this forum asked me to let everyone know that her husband, a professional photograper, is going to try to clean up the photograph!

What a great place this is, that it brings all these people with so many different and useful skills together.

fox1950
10-27-2005, 05:55 PM
Thanks to everyone looking for the magazine. Another angle to the mystery that I thought might be interesting is: If the children remained in the United States and were not killed, there would have had to attend school somewhere.
That would mean that there are other people who were children at the time who would have gone to school with these children, whether they were separated or kept together. So, If someone went to school with them they would probably recognize them if they saw some really good pictures of the children. Too bad some TV program can't be enlisted like 48 hours mysteries to do a show on it.

Also, could be reading something into nothing, but isn't it interesting that the 1967 picture was addressed to Mrs. Sodder solely. Not Mr. & Mrs. Sodder.

LButler
10-28-2005, 11:27 AM
fox ... i may know the answer to the "Mrs. Sodder" only address. The property they purchased in Fayetteville in 1935 (where they lived at the time of the fire and after) was deeded in her name only according to the Fayette County records. If someone called the Courthouse to get an address for them from the current tax addresses, it would have been in her name only?

shadowangel
10-28-2005, 12:15 PM
http://www.unsolvedmysteries.com/usm146854.html

Look at this website and put Louis Sodder in the search engine-someone
has posted a search for him.
I believe I may have found this person...All the info matches, and the address is 25 miles from Fayetteville. If anyone is interested, PM me.

LButler
10-28-2005, 01:21 PM
Hey guys and gals...I hope to be going back to the Fayette County Courthouse on Monday or Tuesday. There's a name that I want to check up on from this time period. Anybody have any requests or ideas of things in the public records that I could take a look at? I also plan to pop in to the police office and see what is considered "public" there. Can anyone help me on that one? I've always found you can achieve a lot more if you are informed, but I'm not on that one.


Any ideas or suggestions, I'll make a note and see what I can find out!!

Shadow205
10-28-2005, 01:32 PM
You might want to check with Stacy Horne.We don't want to do anything that will mess up the research that she is doing for the story that she is doing on the Sodder's. Going to the police department right now might raise some red flags that don't need raised just yet. That is why I have not been yet.



Hey guys and gals...I hope to be going back to the Fayette County Courthouse on Monday or Tuesday. There's a name that I want to check up on from this time period. Anybody have any requests or ideas of things in the public records that I could take a look at? I also plan to pop in to the police office and see what is considered "public" there. Can anyone help me on that one? I've always found you can achieve a lot more if you are informed, but I'm not on that one.


Any ideas or suggestions, I'll make a note and see what I can find out!!

shadowangel
10-28-2005, 01:49 PM
Hey, Shadow205-finally found the forum you've been talking about! Someone on there has an intriguing idea, going a direction I don't think anyone has ever looked....

Both George and Jennie were immigrants from Italy. I wonder if anyone has tried to track down their families in Europe to see if they have any information that has not yet come to light?

IF the kids were taken out of country, to Europe, how would it have been done? A boat out of NYC?

(Simply speculation, don't everyone start beating on me).

fox1950
10-28-2005, 11:06 PM
Butler, Could you find the dates of births of the missing children, their middle names and what John's middle name was. Thanks.

LButler
10-29-2005, 10:37 AM
Hey, I have some of that...

Betty D. b: March 4, 1940 in Fayetteville
Jenny Irene b: September 19, 1937 in Fayetteville
Louis A. b: December 20, 1935 in Fayetteville
Marthalu b: January 22, 1933 in Smithers
Maurice A. b: July 8, 1931 in Smithers

These are the missing kids, of course, and I didn't get all the middle names, but I will add that to my list.

PS I'm not going to ask any "incriminating" questions of the police. I just wanted to see how far back the records go and what the policy is on looking at files. I seriously don't think the current police force in town would feel threatened by asking about this case, but I do intend to leave that one to Stacy.

LButler
10-29-2005, 10:40 AM
John's middle initial was F. He died in November 2001 at the age of 78 making his birthdate 1923 or so (depending on his birthday).

Stacy Horn
10-30-2005, 07:38 AM
Jonathan Bandy (a great grandson of George and Jennie Sodder) has started posting in the thread that Shadow205 started. He is being amazingly gracious.

docwho3
10-30-2005, 08:21 AM
Jonathan Bandy (a great grandson of George and Jennie Sodder) has started posting in the thread that Shadow205 started. He is being amazingly gracious.
That's really good news.

Stacy Horn
10-31-2005, 08:26 AM
The name of the mafia crime family that would have had control over West Virginia in 1945 was LaRocca. They were based in Pittsburgh.

Does that name ring a bell for anyone?

Marilynilpa
10-31-2005, 09:53 AM
The name of the mafia crime family that would have had control over West Virginia in 1945 was LaRocca. They were based in Pittsburgh.

Does that name ring a bell for anyone?
That doesn't ring any bells, but I live in Pittsburgh and can do a little research here to see what I can find out about them, if you'd like me to.

shadowangel
10-31-2005, 11:03 AM
Here is an article with some info on the Pittsburgh LaRoccas (no mention of WV)
http://www.post-gazette.com/regionstate/20001106mobhistory2.asp

This article does mention WV in connection to the LaRoccas
http://www.ganglandnews.com/column60.htm

shadowangel
10-31-2005, 07:27 PM
Here is the first part of the article I posted above...http://www.post-gazette.com/regionstate/20001105greenbank1.asp

And another article about the Pittsburgh mob...
http://www.mobmagazine.com/ManageArticle.asp?C=20&A=110

And an article about Local 1058, which John LaRocca's son is vice-president of:http://www.laborers.org/PitsTrib_Local1058_3-28-00.html

Stacy Horn
11-01-2005, 02:37 PM
Great stuff! Thank you!! What I need is someone to say something like, "Oh yeah. Their cousins lived across the street and they ..." If in fact, they had any kind of presence in the town or any of the local businesses.

I reached the West Virginia State Police Cold Case Squad and they agreed to look for the case files and talk to me. So progress!

shadowangel
11-01-2005, 02:51 PM
Great news about the State Police. From what I have read, the mob ventured into WV during prohibition. Brewing and running "shine" was BIG business in WV up until the mid-to late-'60s. (This I know for fact...;) )

Marilynilpa
11-01-2005, 03:12 PM
Great news about the State Police. From what I have read, the mob ventured into WV during prohibition. Brewing and running "shine" was BIG business in WV up until the mid-to late-'60s. (This I know for fact...;) )
The LaRocca family is well known in Pittsburgh. Supposedly their mob days are behind them.;)

Stacy Horn
11-01-2005, 04:00 PM
That's what the Gotti family says.

Marilynilpa
11-01-2005, 04:35 PM
:laugh: That's what the Gotti family says.
My thoughts exactly!

LButler
11-03-2005, 12:59 PM
I had hoped to go back to the Fayette County Courthouse, but a turn of events has me tied to work all week. YucK!!

Anyway, I've had some thoughts.... what about getting the pictures of the 5 kids and the story on the DoeNetwork? Although I don't have a good copy of the picture of the billboard, it looked as though the family had good, recent school pictures of the kids in 1945. I would think the family would have these photos. It's possible if the kids were taken to be raised elsewhere by someone else, they may recognize their own story or photo. Just a thought.... what do you folks think?

Also, any of you read about Georgia Tann who ran the Tennesse Children's Home Society in Memphis? She ran an operation of stealing babies and selling them into wealthy homes in NYC and LA in the 1930's through the 1940's. Most of her babies were taken while in the hospital after birth - moms were told the babies died, asked to sign papers to release the body for burial (which were actually relinquishing rights to thier babies) and then "adopted." The Sodders were a little too old for her operation, I think, but there is a case of a 4-yr possibly abducted for her. Maybe the younger girls? I know, I know, it's really a looooooooong shot, but maybe she had an "order" for some Italian kids??? Don't flame me too much on that thought.

One last thing, while looking around on the Doenetwork of unexplained disappearances, I came across a kid that came up missing in very similar circumstances as the Sodders. Ricky Jean Bryant (female) was 4 years old in 1949 in Wisconsin (I think), her house caught on fire on December 19, 1949 and she disappeared from the front yard while everyone was busy trying to fight the fire. her case number on the Doenetwork is 1756DFWI.

shadowangel
11-03-2005, 01:03 PM
Also, any of you read about Georgia Tann who ran the Tennesse Children's Home Society in Memphis? She ran an operation of stealing babies and selling them into wealthy homes in NYC and LA in the 1930's through the 1940's. Most of her babies were taken while in the hospital after birth - moms were told the babies died, asked to sign papers to release the body for burial (which were actually relinquishing rights to thier babies) and then "adopted." The Sodders were a little too old for her operation, I think, but there is a case of a 4-yr possibly abducted for her. Maybe the younger girls? I know, I know, it's really a looooooooong shot, but maybe she had an "order" for some Italian kids??? Don't flame me too much on that thought.


I knew you'd agree with me eventually.;) ;) ;)

Doe Network is a great idea.

LButler
11-03-2005, 01:31 PM
Agree on what? Have you looked at the Tann thing as well?

shadowangel
11-03-2005, 01:50 PM
Yes, I have...And that wasn't the only operation going. It just seems to humble little me the best answer to the puzzle.

Marilynilpa
11-03-2005, 02:06 PM
Yes, I have...And that wasn't the only operation going. It just seems to humble little me the best answer to the puzzle.
Although adoption might be a possible answer to this puzzle, I think it is a long shot. Of the missing children, the youngest was 5 and the oldest was 14. Even if they had been adopted, they would still remember who they really were. At some point it seems at least one of them would have come forward. Even if they had been told that their parents died in the house fire, I still believe they would have eventually contacted other members of their family.:twocents:

shadowangel
11-03-2005, 02:23 PM
There are just no answers that fit all the facts as we know them!

Maybe there's something we haven't considered yet? :waitasec:

LButler
11-03-2005, 04:07 PM
I keep coming back to the fact that to FORCIBLY take 5 children (the oldest being a 15 year old male who is probably no stranger to manual labor) would take a small army. It would probably take 2 people just to subdue Maurice alone, let alone the other 4 running around....just seems unlikely to me.

Did Maurice have reason to take the 4 kids and leave?

Even if it had been someone they knew convinced them to leave, it had to have been well in advance of the fire. A 15-yr old would have the presence of mind to try to get his family out if he had seen the house burning.

Did a UFO abduct them? Sadly, that story seems to have the most validity to it right now!! (no, I don't really believe that, but the story unfolds like that is exactly what happened - something just swooped down and carried them away!!)

Let's get serious about getting them on the DoeNetwork. Who knows the protocol? While Stacy is in town meeting with folks would be a perfect time to get the photo and a good and ACCURATE story of how things happened that night. What about their own website? Anybody have experience in that type of thing?

shadowangel
11-03-2005, 04:54 PM
I gots friends in high places. I'll e-mail one of them now.

Shadow205
11-03-2005, 07:53 PM
I think that the Doenetwork is a good idea. I think that getting their pictures out to as many media outlets as possible is also a good idea. I have contacted Dateline but have not heard anything back from them. I firmly beleive that they are alive.I don't know why I feel so strongly that they are but I do. I also think that it is possible that they were taken to Italy.It would be wonderful if we could get age progression on each of them. I don't think that I have ever seen a case with so much mystery. Like Stacy said, it is like a badly written book, nothing make sense.

Marilynilpa
11-04-2005, 09:28 AM
I think that the Doenetwork is a good idea. I think that getting their pictures out to as many media outlets as possible is also a good idea. I have contacted Dateline but have not heard anything back from them. I firmly beleive that they are alive.I don't know why I feel so strongly that they are but I do. I also think that it is possible that they were taken to Italy.It would be wonderful if we could get age progression on each of them. I don't think that I have ever seen a case with so much mystery. Like Stacy said, it is like a badly written book, nothing make sense.
I hope you are right about the Sodder kids being alive.

Unfortunately, I believe the children were killed, most likely the same night as the fire. It appears to me that the fire was set to teach the Sodders a lesson of some kind, or to kill the entire family. I've tried to think of a logical reason why these kids, if alive, never told anyone that they had been kidnapped from their parents. Or why they never tried to contact family members. As children, they could have been threatened in some way, but once they reached adulthood, what would have prevented them from speaking up?

Stacy Horn
11-04-2005, 09:40 AM
Oh no! Dateline and I are going to be competing for the same story. (I will lose, I'm the little guy.)

The West Virginia State Police cold case guy is being EXTREMELY helpful, as is everyone else. I honestly think we might learn something, one way or another.

shadowangel
11-04-2005, 09:48 AM
I believe Doe Network will accept case, but the circumstances will have to be explained as to why there is no Missing Persons report. If any report of the fire itself still exists, that will be helpful. Photos of the kids will be necessary. I believe this has already been discussed.

Now, let's see. Who do we know on here that's a writer by trade and could take care of the case description...

Stacy Horn
11-04-2005, 10:03 AM
Ha! I will of course do whatever I can to help, but hang on. I hope to have new information which would have a bearing on what we do.

LButler
11-04-2005, 10:33 AM
Ok, the Doe Network is something we can DO, not just talk about. I'll do whatever I can from my computer (I'm pretty tied down with a small business, but I do have lots of time for computer play). This could get very exciting.

And, Shadow, I agree with you somewhat on the children being alive. I think the younger ones may very well still be out there. For some strange reason, I have always thought that Maurice may have been killed immediately. That's the only thing I can come up with to explain an abduction of 5 kids. If fact, here's my latest thoughts:

Jonathan tells us on the other board that the kids were up listening to the radio with Marion and listening for Santa, then they went to bed. I talked with an "older" friend who says that it was a big thing to listen to the radio on Christmas Eve (correct me on this if needed, my only connect to the radio growing up was to watch MTV for the video to a cool song heard on the radio). Anyway, maybe someone knew the kids would be listening to the radio (as most kids would be, right?).

Marion is the oldest here so maybe at some point, she shoos the kids off to bed and away they go, OR, maybe she falls asleep (she's probably had a long day working at the Ben Franklin on Christmas Eve) and the kids don't go upstairs. What if the noise Jenny heard on the roof was someone's ploy to make the kids think that Santa was on the roof? Maybe Maurice tells them that if they go outside, they'll see Santa on the roof or flying over? But, they have to be quiet and not wake Mom, Dad or Marion on the couch.

Out they go to see Santa and someone is waiting for them. This is the point where I get the feeling that Maurice was perhaps killed (I hate to post such thoughts, it seems so evil to even think it) and it frightened the kids enough to be somewhat paralyzed for the moment. They are threatened too and do what the abductors tell them to. The abductors start the fire and any sign of a struggle or any evidence would soon be erased with all the activity around the house.

My thinking is this: It took way more than one person to pull this off. At least 2 and maybe more. It's nearly impossible that all the people involved went to their graves never talking about it, never mentioning it to a loved one, never getting drunk and bragging among peers in a bar, never feeling guilty and needing to talk to someone.....

mysteriew
11-04-2005, 11:01 AM
Has anyone contacted the state police and asked why they aren't on the website?
http://www.wvstatepolice.com/children/

additional resources:
http://www.pollyklaas.org/missing/
http://www.adtoad.com/announcements-missing-ads.asp
http://www.reunion.com/
http://www.classmates.com/cmo/reg/school/index.jsp;jsessionid=1TA5DXBD2LVFOCQKWZUCQCQKBK1GS IV3?_requestid=438501
http://wv.craigslist.org/

Another thought- do we have enough info to check military records? If alive, the boys would have been subject to the draft.

shadowangel
11-04-2005, 11:10 AM
Is the "official" line still that the kids died in the fire? That's what law enforcement was stating at the time...

LButler
11-04-2005, 11:14 AM
I think that's the problem with the kids not being listed anywhere. LE at all levels told the family that the kids burnt in the fire, that was the opinion coming out of the inquest right after the fire ... no more discussion!!

Stacy Horn
11-04-2005, 11:21 AM
I am working with the West Virginia State Police. They have cold case guys who, as I said, are being very helpful. And everyone they contact in turn has also been very helpful.

When I have information I will share it, but this is all going to take some time. Old files have to be dug up, people found, and of course, sadly, often those we find have passed on.

I don't want to tell anyone what to do, I am the newcomer here, and you have all been very gracious to me. I can only suggest waiting until all the known facts are in before proceeding.

Marilynilpa
11-04-2005, 11:53 AM
Ok, the Doe Network is something we can DO, not just talk about. I'll do whatever I can from my computer (I'm pretty tied down with a small business, but I do have lots of time for computer play). This could get very exciting.

And, Shadow, I agree with you somewhat on the children being alive. I think the younger ones may very well still be out there. For some strange reason, I have always thought that Maurice may have been killed immediately. That's the only thing I can come up with to explain an abduction of 5 kids. If fact, here's my latest thoughts:

Jonathan tells us on the other board that the kids were up listening to the radio with Marion and listening for Santa, then they went to bed. I talked with an "older" friend who says that it was a big thing to listen to the radio on Christmas Eve (correct me on this if needed, my only connect to the radio growing up was to watch MTV for the video to a cool song heard on the radio). Anyway, maybe someone knew the kids would be listening to the radio (as most kids would be, right?).

Marion is the oldest here so maybe at some point, she shoos the kids off to bed and away they go, OR, maybe she falls asleep (she's probably had a long day working at the Ben Franklin on Christmas Eve) and the kids don't go upstairs. What if the noise Jenny heard on the roof was someone's ploy to make the kids think that Santa was on the roof? Maybe Maurice tells them that if they go outside, they'll see Santa on the roof or flying over? But, they have to be quiet and not wake Mom, Dad or Marion on the couch.

Out they go to see Santa and someone is waiting for them. This is the point where I get the feeling that Maurice was perhaps killed (I hate to post such thoughts, it seems so evil to even think it) and it frightened the kids enough to be somewhat paralyzed for the moment. They are threatened too and do what the abductors tell them to. The abductors start the fire and any sign of a struggle or any evidence would soon be erased with all the activity around the house.

My thinking is this: It took way more than one person to pull this off. At least 2 and maybe more. It's nearly impossible that all the people involved went to their graves never talking about it, never mentioning it to a loved one, never getting drunk and bragging among peers in a bar, never feeling guilty and needing to talk to someone.....
The Santa story is an interesting theory, I can tell you've been thinking about this for a while. If it did happen this way, I agree that Maurice ws probably killed. He was 14 and would probably have put up quite a struggle.

But I still have the same question - why would these kids (now adults) keep quiet for all these years if they were alive? Sure, they may have been scared into silence at the time they were abducted, but over the years as they've become adults, it just doesn't seem plausible to me that none of them have come forward and talked about what happened to them. That's why I feel they may have been killed that night, or shortly thereafter.

I hope I'm wrong, and the missing Sodder kids are now happy, healthy adults.

Shadow205
11-04-2005, 12:47 PM
Stacy, I sent the info to Dateline BEFORE you joined the board. I wouldn't worry to much about compeating with them, I never received a reply. It sounds promising with the State Police, I hope that they do provide some useful info and not just that they died in the fire.



Oh no! Dateline and I are going to be competing for the same story. (I will lose, I'm the little guy.)

The West Virginia State Police cold case guy is being EXTREMELY helpful, as is everyone else. I honestly think we might learn something, one way or another.

Stacy Horn
11-04-2005, 01:22 PM
Shadow205, you are so nice. I was hoping my post didn't come off badly. I don't own this story, and I know that everyone just wants to find out what happened to those children, both for the family's sake and because we're human and when five children disappear we want to know why.

LButler
11-04-2005, 02:33 PM
marilyn ... the part of the kids never returning baffles me as well. I have theorized in my brain, that the most plausible explanation is that they were taken too far away, overseas specifically, which would have prevented them from making contact for several years. After reaching adulthood, maybe they had good lives, were happy and content and just never thought of their "other family" or was unsure of how to make any kind of contact with them? I don't really believe that one myself, but maybe?

Marilynilpa
11-04-2005, 03:32 PM
marilyn ... the part of the kids never returning baffles me as well. I have theorized in my brain, that the most plausible explanation is that they were taken too far away, overseas specifically, which would have prevented them from making contact for several years. After reaching adulthood, maybe they had good lives, were happy and content and just never thought of their "other family" or was unsure of how to make any kind of contact with them? I don't really believe that one myself, but maybe?
That is possible but, like you, I don't really believe that. Even if they had been taken far away (Italy?), and grew up to be happy, content people, it just seems they would eventually want to reconnect with their family in West Virginia.

And trying to take five kids overseas when you have no documentation for them would not be an easy task. I don't know what the travel requirements were back then, but I would assume that you would at least need a birth certificate for each child. And I doubt these kids would have gone willingly, so you'd also have to be dealing with screaming, crying, traumatized children who just want to go home.

To me, the mystery isn't about what happened to these kids, because I think they were killed. The mystery as I see it is who set this whole thing in motion by setting the fire? And for what reason?

LButler
11-04-2005, 04:35 PM
marilyn .... the family owned about 7.5 acres ... I've never heard anything to verify that the surrounding area was searched for bodies ... just like we're talking about over in the Greenbrier bodies thread, there's some real rugged terrain in the Gorge area, over Gauley Mountain ... it would be easy enough to dump the bodies into one of those ravines ...

Marilynilpa
11-04-2005, 04:51 PM
marilyn .... the family owned about 7.5 acres ... I've never heard anything to verify that the surrounding area was searched for bodies ... just like we're talking about over in the Greenbrier bodies thread, there's some real rugged terrain in the Gorge area, over Gauley Mountain ... it would be easy enough to dump the bodies into one of those ravines ...
It would be interesting to verify whether any type of search was ever conducted on the Sodders' property.

If these children were killed, I think the ravines sound like a quick way to dispose of the bodies.

I know that most of the people posting on this thread are of the opinion the children are alive, and I hope they are right. However, with the passage of time and no word from any of the missing Sodder children, I just don't think it is likely they survived.

shadowangel
11-04-2005, 05:23 PM
It would be interesting to verify whether any type of search was ever conducted on the Sodders' property.

If these children were killed, I think the ravines sound like a quick way to dispose of the bodies.

I know that most of the people posting on this thread are of the opinion the children are alive, and I hope they are right. However, with the passage of time and no word from any of the missing Sodder children, I just don't think it is likely they survived.
Since the Sodders travelled to several other states to follow up on any leads they received, I feel rather certain they scoured the local countryside. But, maybe not...
Personally, I think posting the children on Doe Network should happen sooner rather than later. Anything that comes up in the forseeable future is most likely to be more conjecture, and lets face it---Anyone still alive at this point who may have first-hand knowledge doesn't have much longer among us. If the basics-House burned, four escaped, no remains of other five ever found-can be posted, that should jog the memory of anyone with clues (and certainly be enough to intrigue others out there-my original post asked about a billboard I didn't where put up I didn't know when about some kids that I couldn't remember anytihng about, and looked how many folks are hooked here! :D )

Shadow205
11-05-2005, 09:00 AM
That is possible but, like you, I don't really believe that. Even if they had been taken far away (Italy?), and grew up to be happy, content people, it just seems they would eventually want to reconnect with their family in West Virginia.

And trying to take five kids overseas when you have no documentation for them would not be an easy task. I don't know what the travel requirements were back then, but I would assume that you would at least need a birth certificate for each child. And I doubt these kids would have gone willingly, so you'd also have to be dealing with screaming, crying, traumatized children who just want to go home.

To me, the mystery isn't about what happened to these kids, because I think they were killed. The mystery as I see it is who set this whole thing in motion by setting the fire? And for what reason?
Marilynilpa,

You make several good points in your post however consider this....

"A woman from Charleston, WV called to say that she had seen the children in Charleston the day after the fire with an Italian family. A year later she called again and reported seeing Louis in Charleston again, this time in the company of one man. She stated that she recognized the children from newspaper photographs. But there was no way to verify her story."
Then in 1968, over 20 years after the tradgedy, the Sodders received yet another mysterious reminder. An envelope arrived addressed to Mrs. Sodder with no return address. Inside she found only a photograph of a young man 24-28 years old, wearing white pants and a shirt, and sitting in front of a window. On the back of the photograpgh were these words:
"Louis Sodder"
"I love brother Frankie."
"lilil Boys"
"A90132 or 35"
Mrs. Sodder was convinced that the photograph was that of her son Louis Sodder. who was supposed to have died in the fire at the age of nine."
The above info was taken from the book WV Unsolved Murders. Mrs. Sodder was so convinced that the picture was indeed that of Louis that she had it enlarged and placed it in a frame in front of her fireplace. The picture was also added to the billboard.
I think that the children were split up. It seems possible that Louis remained in the country based on the above information. Why he never contacted his family...I don't know, I wish that I did. Is it possible that Stokholm Syndrome came into play? It is possible. It would also explain how someone would be able to relocate these children without them causing a scene. I don't think that taking them out of the country would have been that difficult, that was way back in 1945 and things were not checked that closely. Obtaining a birth cetificate for them would have been as simple as a trip to the courthouse or an inside source could have obtained them without anyone ever knowing. We have seen enough speculation on involvment of officials to suspect that this could have been the case. Consider that they children were victims of Stockholm Syndrome. It could explain several questions. Add to that, if they were taken to Italy and the lack of communication compared to what we have today. A child in Italy may have never known that they had family here who were searching for them. Why did they never contact their family as they grew older? I am no expert on Stockholm Syndrome but couldn't it have had life long effects?

LButler
11-05-2005, 10:41 AM
One thing I've thought about is, I know very little about true Italian culture.

Let's assume my story that Maurice was killed at the house and the other 4 taken, maybe Louis is kept "locally." Why he never returned home or contacted someone is strange. Maybe they were told stories, the house burnt and all the family died (he could have even been shown pictures of the fire scene before the billboard was erected...), your parents didn't want you, they sold you, they couldn't afford 10 kids....who knows. Anyone cruel enought to steal kids would easily tell them hurtful lies.

The girls, may have been taken to Italy. Maybe as soon as they were old enough, they were put into marriages. Here's where the culture thing comes in. Italian males seem to be pretty authoritative. Maybe they were told "It's stupid to pursue this "family" in WV, it was a childhood dream, forget about it...We're not talking about it anymore..."

I don't know. I do think about it alot, because things like this just don't happen around here. This would be a very bizarre story for even a big city - back in 1945 or in the present day!! And it seems that the Sodders were just fed enough crumbs to keep them going, but never getting answers. It's heartbreaking!!

Shadow205
11-05-2005, 11:10 AM
One thing I've thought about is, I know very little about true Italian culture.

Let's assume my story that Maurice was killed at the house and the other 4 taken, maybe Louis is kept "locally." Why he never returned home or contacted someone is strange. Maybe they were told stories, the house burnt and all the family died (he could have even been shown pictures of the fire scene before the billboard was erected...), your parents didn't want you, they sold you, they couldn't afford 10 kids....who knows. Anyone cruel enought to steal kids would easily tell them hurtful lies.

The girls, may have been taken to Italy. Maybe as soon as they were old enough, they were put into marriages. Here's where the culture thing comes in. Italian males seem to be pretty authoritative. Maybe they were told "It's stupid to pursue this "family" in WV, it was a childhood dream, forget about it...We're not talking about it anymore..."

I don't know. I do think about it alot, because things like this just don't happen around here. This would be a very bizarre story for even a big city - back in 1945 or in the present day!! And it seems that the Sodders were just fed enough crumbs to keep them going, but never getting answers. It's heartbreaking!!This has been my theory all along. Throw in the "Stockholm Syndrome" and I think that it is a very good possibilty.

on the trail
11-06-2005, 11:58 AM
as a person who grew up in this area , my grand parents lived there in fayetteville , i still have family there , but no one ever i think really knew much as to what happened , lot of stories lot of rumors but i think a lot of the reason was out of respect of the family is why no one disscused it much. i can as a child remember asking about the billboard once and my grandparents just stated know no really knows what happened , they just didn't want to talk about it. at the time that it happened i think fear and the rumor mill scared a lot of pepole . i do know that later on my grandmother did say they thought the kids had been taken to the old country . and even then she wouldn't say anymore than it was just a rumor .

shadowangel
11-06-2005, 01:02 PM
"Returned to Italy" seems a fairly common theory. Isn't it reasonable to assume George Sodder changed his name upon immigrating here? ("Sodder" is certainly not a traditional Italian name, and it was common practice for male immigrants to "Americanize" their names so they could get work in areas where Italians were less than welcome).
I'm just wondering if he had good reason to change his name...
Is it possible that the relatives, for example grandparents, could have orchestrated this thing?

fox1950
11-06-2005, 01:22 PM
Giorgio Soddu came to the United States at the age of 16, in the beginning of the 1900's. His name was changed to George Sodder. He had a brother who remained in Italy named Salvatore Soddu.

LButler
11-06-2005, 01:37 PM
To my understanding, it was fairly common for them to change their last names upon entry into the US. And, to be honest, it could be us "natives" that butchered their last names and ultimately changed them. In fact, on one of the birth records of one of the Sodder kids, Jenny's maiden name is listed as "Soprano" when it was actually Cipriani.

I've spent a little time reading up on some history (amazing how boring that all was back in HS). Anyway, Mussolini had a huge backing in the US. Many US-Italians and US politicians backed his regime in a big way. However, some US Italians did not like him at all. George Sodder was said to be very vocal in his dislike of Mussolini and stated that he would not "raise sons for him." In my readings, one Italian was quoted something to the effect of, if you were an Italian and a Mussolini supporter and a fellow Italian spoke against him, it was equivolent to slandering a family member. Serious business.

Since I can find no evidence that kids as "old" as the Sodders were put into the black market adoption rings, I stand by my theory that the backlash came from the local Italian community. Maybe not a Mafia move as many of us would think about it, but it had to have been carried out in a fashion similar to a Mafia "hit."

upallnite
11-06-2005, 01:49 PM
"Returned to Italy" seems a fairly common theory. Isn't it reasonable to assume George Sodder changed his name upon immigrating here? ("Sodder" is certainly not a traditional Italian name, and it was common practice for male immigrants to "Americanize" their names so they could get work in areas where Italians were less than welcome).
I'm just wondering if he had good reason to change his name...
Is it possible that the relatives, for example grandparents, could have orchestrated this thing?
There are records of Sodders immigrating here from Italy on Ancestry.com, however you have to pay to read them and I'm not a member there. They are expensive too.

LButler
11-06-2005, 02:07 PM
PS George was born in Tula, Italy in about 1895 (I know he died in 1969 and I think he was 74, therefore...)

Jenny Cipriani was born in Troy, Italy in about 1904 or 05 (died 1989 at 84)

Place of birth of parents was listed on one of the birth records of the kids.

shadowangel
11-06-2005, 03:27 PM
Since I can find no evidence that kids as "old" as the Sodders were put into the black market adoption rings, I stand by my theory that the backlash came from the local Italian community. Maybe not a Mafia move as many of us would think about it, but it had to have been carried out in a fashion similar to a Mafia "hit."My only problem with this...The whole took a lot of planning, and the mob has never been known for sublety, why didn't the kids die in the house?
This case makes my head hurt...

I checked into the Capriani name in connection with the mob, both her and in Italy/Sicily, not much...Anyone looked into George's real name for a conection?

on the trail
11-06-2005, 07:14 PM
the Mussolini theroy is one that i hadn't heard before, there are alot of old country families in and around fayetteville , boomer, smithers ,montgomery. but you need to know that fayette station at one time was a jumping off spot for folks back then as there was at least 4 smaller towns in the gorge, kaymoor,nuttleburg , there were a large amount of imigrants in these towns as well , like a little ellis island . the closeness of the property to rt 60 could have made a fast get away to charleston or montgomery or smithers . smithers is across the river from montgomery . but if a person was going to new york let's say then they would have been going the wrong way . why go all that way if you could have gone back to fayetteville down to fayette station in the gorge and caught a train . i do think it was planned but maybe a simple plan at that.

Shadow205
11-06-2005, 07:55 PM
Giorgio Soddu came to the United States at the age of 16, in the beginning of the 1900's. His name was changed to George Sodder. He had a brother who remained in Italy named Salvatore Soddu.
Great find Fox! I have been looking for George's name, Your info is helpfull to Les, narrowing it down to where they came from in Italy.

on the trail
11-07-2005, 06:57 AM
what other parts of the country did the reports,letters,sightings come from ? do we know if the F.B.I ever looked into this case as well. did the sodders have any family in the area at the time i know mrs sodder was from smithers . any other strange things happen in the area around that time missing pepole- kids , other fires threats etc? what was the imigrant population of fayetteville area in the 30's- 40's . who handled the investigation st police or sheriff dept. was a search of the area ever done by the police ? was there snow on the ground at the time ?

Stacy Horn
11-07-2005, 07:12 AM
According to what I read, on RootsWeb I think it was, Giorgio Soddu came to the United States in 1900, when he was 16. If this information is true, it can't be the same guy. I have George Sodder's date of birth as 11/24/1894.

On Ancestry.com, it says that George Sodder came to the United States in 1911. Well, depending on the month, that would have made him 16, right? Perhaps they just got the immigration year wrong on RootsWeb.

Jennie arrived in 1905.

Shadow205
11-07-2005, 07:27 AM
According to what I read, on RootsWeb I think it was, Giorgio Soddu came to the United States in 1900, when he was 16. If this information is true, it can't be the same guy. I have George Sodder's date of birth as 11/24/1894.

On Ancestry.com, it says that George Sodder came to the United States in 1911. Well, depending on the month, that would have made him 16, right? Perhaps they just got the immigration year wrong on RootsWeb.

Jennie arrived in 1905.
Stacy, the way I read that was that Giorgio Soddu came to the United States in the beginning or early 1900's not 1900 so that would work.

mysteriew
11-07-2005, 07:30 AM
Has anyone heard anything further from the state police?

Stacy Horn
11-07-2005, 10:00 AM
Yes, I'm sure I read it wrong, or I remembered it wrong. I went back, and it looks like Giorgio and George are in fact the same person, and that descendents of George's brother are living in Italy, and are in touch with Jonathan, the great grandson.

I am in regular touch with the State Police, but I won't have concrete information to report back until after 11/17. Also, I'm now communicating with the Sodder family, so anything I learn I have to talk to them about it first. (I'm not being witholding, I promise, I'm just trying to be sensitive to their feelings.)

That reminds me, Sylvia, the youngest surviving child, asked me how I learned about all this and I mentioned this place, and the thread that Shadow205 started. She's not on the internet, but she is going to ask her daughter to show her. You should all be aware that she will read what you have said. Not that anyone has been insensitive, but I thought you would want to know.

mysteriew
11-07-2005, 10:23 AM
Can you share any info that she may have known? What she remembers from what happeded? It would be helpful if she was able to give new info or to confirm or deny what we already have.

Stacy Horn
11-07-2005, 11:35 AM
I will know more over the next few weeks! Hopefully. I'm going down to West Virginia the first week in December.

LButler
11-07-2005, 12:59 PM
lablover has posted something on the other forum that really supports my theory of Mafia involvement. I have always heard that the kids were taken as a vendetta against Jenny's father. Maybe I'm not so off on the Mafia idea?

Shadow205
11-07-2005, 01:36 PM
I saw that post by lablover. They are trying to register here to post but are having problems for some reason getting registered.

LButler
11-07-2005, 02:01 PM
I had the same problem. They told me I didn't meet the requirements, I couldn't get an e-mail thru... I finally found an e-mail address of one of the administrators of the sight and she got me taken care of very quickly. Must be a glitch somewhere!!

LButler
11-07-2005, 02:42 PM
Don't think it's there any longer, but I've heard plenty about it. Heard about a young Tech student who spent all grandma's money there on things she "had to have." Heard of Vinnie's too. What about that one?

Stacy Horn
11-08-2005, 07:50 AM
Forgive me, I may have already asked this, but who still lives in the area, if you don't mind saying?

LButler
11-08-2005, 02:21 PM
My only problem with this...The whole took a lot of planning, and the mob has never been known for sublety, why didn't the kids die in the house?
This case makes my head hurt...

I checked into the Capriani name in connection with the mob, both her and in Italy/Sicily, not much...Anyone looked into George's real name for a conection?
The family name is CIPriani, not CAP (pronounced sip). I was making the same mistake until a friend of mine corrected me.

on the trail
11-08-2005, 02:33 PM
i see ms horn is a book writer from new york . could this be for an upcoming book . hmmm :silenced: :silenced: :silenced:

mysteriew
11-08-2005, 03:48 PM
i see ms horn is a book writer from new york . could this be for an upcoming book . hmmm :silenced: :silenced: :silenced:

Who knows. But she also has a nice cold case website, you ought to check it out.

www.therestlesssleep.com

http://websleuths.com/forums/showthread.php?t=30259&highlight=stacy+horn

shadowangel
11-08-2005, 03:58 PM
The family name is CIPriani, not CAP (pronounced sip). I was making the same mistake until a friend of mine corrected me.
I knew that. I knew that! I did! Really! :rolleyes:

shadowangel
11-08-2005, 04:00 PM
i see ms horn is a book writer from new york . could this be for an upcoming book . hmmm :silenced: :silenced: :silenced:
Hey, she's been upfront from the beginning as to her interest and intentions in the case.

mysteriew
11-08-2005, 04:20 PM
Hey, she's been upfront from the beginning as to her interest and intentions in the case.

She handled it very respectfully and openly. Personally, on any cold case- I don't even really care if they post, or if they tell us. I still hope they write the book. By writing about an unsolved case, they keep it in peoples minds. They keep people talking about it. And thinking about it.
If the perp is aware- they will resent it being out in the public, because it means that it isn't forgotten, and as long as it isn't forgotten then it has a chance at being solved.
If there was a witness or if the perp told someone then it acts as a needle to them, keeping it in their mind, not allowing them to forget. Maybe even someday they will come forward to tell what they know.
But most of all, a forgotten case is a dead case. If it gets taken out and dusted off and looked at every now and then, there is still a chance it may be solved one day.

LButler
11-08-2005, 04:28 PM
I knew that. I knew that! I did! Really! :rolleyes:
Yeah, right, it's a full-time job keepin' you straight on here!

Everybody following the Cipriani stuff on the other forum? Seemed like a creepy family!!

shadowangel
11-08-2005, 05:11 PM
She handled it very respectfully and openly. Personally, on any cold case- I don't even really care if they post, or if they tell us. I still hope they write the book. By writing about an unsolved case, they keep it in peoples minds. They keep people talking about it. And thinking about it.
If the perp is aware- they will resent it being out in the public, because it means that it isn't forgotten, and as long as it isn't forgotten then it has a chance at being solved.
If there was a witness or if the perp told someone then it acts as a needle to them, keeping it in their mind, not allowing them to forget. Maybe even someday they will come forward to tell what they know.
But most of all, a forgotten case is a dead case. If it gets taken out and dusted off and looked at every now and then, there is still a chance it may be solved one day.
I think I'm in love.....:angel:

mysteriew
11-08-2005, 05:17 PM
I think I'm in love.....:angel:

LOL, :blowkiss:

shadowangel
11-08-2005, 05:49 PM
Yeah, right, it's a full-time job keepin' you straight on here!


Hey, when did my wife join this forum? :)

Stacy Horn
11-08-2005, 06:28 PM
I'm actually doing a piece for National Public Radio, not a book. It will air on a show called All Things Considered. When I know the date, I will of course tell everyone! I know it will be Christmas week, though.

I always feel extremely uncomfortable contacting families who have experienced something awful. I went through this with my last book. "Hi. I'd like to talk to you about your murdered daughter." I mean, it was insane. I made myself ill worrying that I was going to add to their pain. When I sent the families copies of the book I begged them not to read it. I basically wrote, "You know what happened. Do you need to read it?" That said, I wrote everything knowing there was a possiblity that they would. I tried to pay tribute to the person they lost. I also specifically put in information that I found that I hoped would provide comfort. For instance, there have been a lot of studies that seem to confirm that in violent, unexpected death, there is no pain. From my book:

Dr. Sherwin B. Nuland offers some reassurance in his book, “How We Die.” There’s a lot of evidence, Nuland found, to indicate that there’s an absence of pain and fear in the face of even the most horrifying deaths. In his chapter about murder, Nuland recounts the story of a nine-year-old girl named Katie who was stabbed to death across the street while her mother watched. What haunts John Diefenbach is echoed in the words of that mother. “Later, I went through months and months of asking myself, How much pain did she feel? I needed to know that... I had to know what she went through, what she felt ...”

Nuland cites example after example of “serenity and languorous comfort in the face of what would seem to be frightful and agonizing wounds.” He includes accounts from people who survived terrifying accidents only to say that at the worst possible moment there was no pain, no fear. Nuland writes, “It is not farfetched to believe that the human body itself knows how to make these morphinelike substances [endorphins] and knows how to time their release to correspond with the instant of need ... I am convinced that nature stepped in, as it so often does, and provided exactly the right spoonful of medicine to give a measure of tranquility to a dying child.”

Dr. Robert Shaler, who just left the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in New York, has been studying this same thing for I believe ten years. His findings are the same.

Oh man, I've gone on too long. It's a long way of saying I've talked to Sylvia, and she wants to do this piece. She doesn't want the story to die. She said she promised her parents that she wouldn't let the story die. I hope I do a good job, but I don't see how it can't be painful for the Sodder family. I feel the same way about her and the rest of the family listening to the piece as I do about the other families reading my book. I really hope they don't listen.

mysteriew
11-08-2005, 07:03 PM
Stacy, my brother was killed in an auto accident at the age of 20. Besides the grief, I remember two very big questions that kept hitting me every time I closed my eyes. How? Why?
I read everything I could about the accident. The accident report, the death certificate, the coroner's report, everything. It did not make the pain worse. And it didn't really answer my question, because what I really wanted to know the answer to was why him?
But it didn't cause additional pain, even though I visulized the whole accident. At the time I didn't think there could be more pain. Now I know there can be.
But my point is that I went through all of those questions, and I knew the result, the final ending.
I cannot imagine not knowing. The grief would be there, yet there would also be the questions in your mind. They have so many more questions, in addition to the same questions I wanted the answers to. If I was the family- I would want to read also.
And if some don't want to read, they will always have the reassurance that it is there waiting on them, when they are ready. Since this is a radio program, maybe give them a copy of the transcript or a copy of the tape of the show. That is what you can do for them.

shadowangel
11-08-2005, 07:25 PM
Stacy-

I think I speak for most all of us in that we are 100% in support of what you do and, more importantly, why. All of us who concern ourselves in the pain, loss, and grief of others ask ourselves the same questions. Are we doing the right thing? Do we have a right to involve ourselves? When I am researching a case, I catch myself getting caught up in the chase, until I see a photo of a bright-eyed, intelligent human being who will never know so many of the pleasures and disappointments that life would have had to offer them if not for the actions of a person with no concern for others...I can't count the times I've been deep into a case, only to step away and go hug my kids for no reason other than how lucky I feel that they are here and safe. There are so many, many families that have had that taken away.

The stories of these people must never be forgotten. Until we all wake to what can happen out there, mysteries like what really happened to the Sodder children will continue. What you do, what we do, is so important.
Not one for cliches, but keep up the good work.

Shadow205
11-08-2005, 07:55 PM
:clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap:

Stacy-

I think I speak for most all of us in that we are 100% in support of what you do and, more importantly, why. All of us who concern ourselves in the pain, loss, and grief of others ask ourselves the same questions. Are we doing the right thing? Do we have a right to involve ourselves? When I am researching a case, I catch myself getting caught up in the chase, until I see a photo of a bright-eyed, intelligent human being who will never know so many of the pleasures and disappointments that life would have had to offer them if not for the actions of a person with no concern for others...I can't count the times I've been deep into a case, only to step away and go hug my kids for no reason other than how lucky I feel that they are here and safe. There are so many, many families that have had that taken away.

The stories of these people must never be forgotten. Until we all wake to what can happen out there, mysteries like what really happened to the Sodder children will continue. What you do, what we do, is so important.
Not one for cliches, but keep up the good work.

on the trail
11-09-2005, 06:45 AM
now that i was spanked by the good detectives , for a statement against ms horn, which by the way was more of a :laugh: . so lighten up :snooty: :clap: :clap: :razz: :razz:

Shadow205
11-09-2005, 07:51 AM
On The Trail, I do not understand why you feel as though you have been "spanked". It was merely pointed out that Stacy Horn has made her intentions known since joing WS's. As a fairly new member perhaps you were not aware of that. Your post came accross as though you thought that she was being sneaky or something. I think that what Stacy is doing is great, who knows maybe it will help bring some closeure to the family or maybe even reunite the siblings after all of these years.

shadowangel
11-09-2005, 08:48 AM
Before we ALL get spanked by the mods, let's take any continuance of this discussion to the Parking Lot. It only detracts from the discussion at hand, and though may be the norm for other forums has no place down here in Cold Cases.

LButler
11-09-2005, 10:44 AM
on the trail ... you haven't been spanked, but read the thread before you post. I've made the same mistake. All's well, hang around and add your thoughts.

Stacy ... on your worries of adding to the pain of a loss... I, personally, don't think there could be any greater pain than NOT KNOWING. In this case, the family doesn't know if these kids survived the night, are they out there, could Sylvia meet part or all of her missing siblings before it's too late? That is pain. When a murder goes unsolved and you can't get answers as to why a child was killed or an innocent person was taken from you - that's pain.

No, I haven't been faced with such a situation personally, but heck, some of us are so wrapped up in this story that we feel we are involved (I know I do). Sylvia wants answers. And, answers involve dredging up the pain again and again, but hopefully it will be worth it in the end. Even if we don't find the answers, it may give her a sense of peace that she did all she could to find out. It would be such a relief to me that someone stilled cared about 5 kids being abducted on Christmas Eve 1945.

shadowangel
11-09-2005, 02:20 PM
on the trail ... you haven't been spanked, but read the thread before you post. I've made the same mistake. All's well, hang around and add your thoughts.

Stacy ... on your worries of adding to the pain of a loss... I, personally, don't think there could be any greater pain than NOT KNOWING. In this case, the family doesn't know if these kids survived the night, are they out there, could Sylvia meet part or all of her missing siblings before it's too late? That is pain. When a murder goes unsolved and you can't get answers as to why a child was killed or an innocent person was taken from you - that's pain.

No, I haven't been faced with such a situation personally, but heck, some of us are so wrapped up in this story that we feel we are involved (I know I do). Sylvia wants answers. And, answers involve dredging up the pain again and again, but hopefully it will be worth it in the end. Even if we don't find the answers, it may give her a sense of peace that she did all she could to find out. It would be such a relief to me that someone stilled cared about 5 kids being abducted on Christmas Eve 1945.
:clap: :clap: (Even if you ARE mean to me!) :blowkiss:
I think there is a level of frustration that comes with this particular case...We all scratch our heads and ask the same question...How do five kids disappear? And, above and beyond that...Why did this case lay seemingly dormant (except for the family) for SIXTY years?
I still hope its more than coincidence that we've all come together at this particular time, maybe the children are ready to have the truth revealed...

LButler
11-09-2005, 02:59 PM
[QUOTE=shadowangel]:clap: :clap: (Even if you ARE mean to me!) :blowkiss:

It's for your own good!!:razz:

I do think it's odd that we all seemed to start thinking about this at similar times. I know I was shocked to google the story and see 2 very active threads about it - just recently started.

Oh, I hope it's a sign from a higher power that IT'S TIME!! Unlike alot of cases I look at and say, "That will never be solved," this one just feels different - it feels "solveable."

Stacy Horn
11-09-2005, 05:45 PM
For the record, I didn't think On the Trail was accusing me of anything. The discussion just brought up how hard it was for me when I was writing my last book, interviewing family members. I'm not even sure how I made the connection, but that's why I posted what I did. I think because once again, I hope I don't say something insensitive to someone in the Sodder family.

mysteriew
11-10-2005, 12:34 AM
now that i was spanked by the good detectives , for a statement against ms horn, which by the way was more of a :laugh: . so lighten up :snooty: :clap: :clap: :razz: :razz:

LOL, I don't think we were trying to spank you. We see so many cases that seem to be forgotten. The families feel it is hopeless, the LE too busy to keep trying to investigate or all leads have dried up and they have no where else to go. So when someone does try to stir things up with some media attention, a book or public discussion of the case- we don't see it as a bad thing.
And may be are a little oversensitive or overprotective of those who are able to do so. Because every time they speak, some guilty person or witness gets a pinprick reminding them that it isn't totally forgotten. Someone is still looking for them. So we want to encourage them to speak as much as possible right?
As a matter of fact, I have a case in mind that is cold, very interesting, horrific, and still affecting people in my area today. Just in case she is looking for another subject for a book or article.

on the trail
11-10-2005, 06:30 AM
now that we have all let off some steam let's get back to case . we are heading in the right direction . stacy good luck to you . when you go to vist.

shadowangel
11-10-2005, 06:53 AM
As a matter of fact, I have a case in mind that is cold, very interesting, horrific, and still affecting people in my area today. Just in case she is looking for another subject for a book or article.
Share!

on the trail
11-10-2005, 08:00 AM
let's review some of the statements from the other forum , one was stated on the family ties to smithers area, smithers was a small town with the railroadtracks that ran thru it , was stated that the storewindows and inside of store were dirty couldn't see in . as most who ever grew up there know with the alloy plant and coal mining some days the dust was so bad it would block out the sun. do we know what church mr ciprianis funeral was at there are 2 catholic churches one in boomer the other in montgomery was there a church in smithers at the time . another question was rasied how often did the sodders vist with there grandfather and aunts and uncle . who was the fire chief of fayetteville's fire dept when the fire happend ? was there any other things going on in the area that may be tied into this that no one has looked at.

on the trail
11-10-2005, 01:11 PM
in checking the other forum, wish lab could get on this page , but here you go , did your family live on front or back street, reason i ask when you type in address shows two locations about a block apart.michigan ave is front street, kanawha ave is backstreet as us kids used to call it did they live in a fancy house brick/stone or wood (coal camp house) . as a kid i only know of 2 grocery stores in smithers i think at one time they had a theatre and bowling alley . the one store was up by the old oakland school the other was down the other end of town . the stores had differant names both starting with c but i can't remember the names .

shadowangel
11-10-2005, 01:39 PM
As I know some others are, I've been checking manifests for ships coming into and leaving the country. I've been trying to check inbound ships for the names CIPriani (proud of me, LButler?:) ) and Soddu...Are there any other family names that have come up in anyone's research?

There is much more info on incoming ships than outgoing (genealogy research, I assume). However, somoeone travelling with five children to post-war Europe should stand out! Would travel to Europe have been restricted in any way, as this was only months after the end of WWII?

LButler
11-10-2005, 02:20 PM
I've been doing a little research myself. First, Cipriani is a very common name originating from several places. In a Cipriani forum on roostweb, I think I found our "branch" of Cipriani's. It mentioned Maria Mateuca Ligueri (b 1873) marrying Guiseppe Cipriani (b 1870) in 1890. Their son, Frank Paul, went to Smithers, WV, and then on to FL. As of the 1930 census, Frank and Joe (probably brothers) Cipriani were both living in Smithers. I believe that Joe is our man because Frank was said to have moved on to FL.

Joe (b 1874) married to Mary (b 1876) children are:

Mary (b 1910)
James (b 1911)
Alma (b 1915)
Edna (b 1918)

Jenny was the oldest being born in 1903, but as of the 1930 census, she is married and in the household of George Sodder.

I don't know when Joe and Frank may have arrived in America.

There's reference to a rumor that the 5 kids were living in Fl with a member of her family, but all the kids in the household were proven to belong to the family. Could that have been Frank and Louise? (it appears from the 1930 census that Frank and Louise have 2 sons, Edward (1922) and Joseph (1925). If I'm correct in Frank and Joe being brothers, Frank and Louise would be Jenny's aunt and uncle.

LButler
11-10-2005, 02:32 PM
I think there is a very good chance that the kids were not shipped back immediately upon their abduction. I'm completely ignorant of weather on the high sea and in Italy, but is there a chance that they would have waited until warmer weather to make the trip?

Something that has always stuck in my mind is one of the letters that LE supposedly received concerning the case. the person writing is very bad with english but he mentions a burial at sea and that the man was one of the Sodders sons. By him calling him a man, I assume this would be Maurice - an 8 year old is not likely to be called a man. It is a very interesting letter and I have tried to decipher it many times.

on the trail... fire chief's name at the time of the fire was J.F. Morris (I believe he went by the name of Forrest). I find it odd that the Braggs don't mention his name in the Unsolved book, but news articles freely name him. Anybody find it odd that the fire chief can't drive the fire truck? PUUU LEASE!!

shadowangel....very good. Now get us something we can work with here!!!:slap:

Richard
11-10-2005, 09:29 PM
.... I find it odd that the Braggs don't mention his name in the Unsolved book, but news articles freely name him. Anybody find it odd that the fire chief can't drive the fire truck? PUUU LEASE!!...
There could be a number of reasons for not naming someone in a book, such as a court injunction or threat of a law suit.

A fire chief not knowing how to drive the fire truck? Sounds odd, but it reminds me of a story:

A man from Abraham Lincoln's home state had worked on his Presidential campaign, and (as was the custom at the time) he went to the White House to ask the new President for a political appointment as Postmaster of his home town. Lincoln greeted the man and heard him out. Then he said, "But Jim, why would you want such a job when you can't even read." The man replied, "I don't think you heard me right, Mr. President. I am asking for the job of Postmaster, not Assistant Postmaster."

Stacy Horn
11-10-2005, 09:50 PM
I just want remind everyone again that the Sodder family is reading this thread. I don't want to silence anyone, and I'm not accusing anyone, but before you hit the "submit reply" button look over your post. Imagine how what you say will be taken by a member of the family. (I'm sure I'm the one who has said something stupid and insensitive, anyway!)

mysteriew
11-10-2005, 11:56 PM
Stacy now might be a good time to mention that on these threads, we do a lot of conjecture, theorizing, and downright old fashioned guessing. We do pull up a lot of info from the web, it is as correct as the source we get it from. But at no time, should any of our guesses be taken as gospel- unless it is confirmed by LE. On any case I have ever seen worked on here, if any new leads or new info was developed- a call is always made to LE.
At any time we welcome family to post what they know, ask questions, submit their own theories, or tell local rumors. We do ask that they identify thier source. In other words if it is a rumor- please state so. If it is from media or a website info, please post a link. If it is theory, please say so. And the same if it is personal memories. We take a lot of our info from media articles and other sources on the web. It makes for better understandings when we do it that way. That is not to say that all of the info we have so far is correct. We do find this info from other sources and we can only be as correct as our source was.
If you find something that you feel is incorrect, please tell us. We know that media articles are not always 100% correct.
But above all, we do welcome you. Please feel free to join in. We all came here not knowing anybody at one time also. Don't be afraid to ask questions or too shy to join in. This is how we all got to know each other too.

on the trail
11-11-2005, 06:26 AM
i agree with mysteryview , we encourage everyone to share what they have . i am glad that the folks are reading. it's to bad we didn't have the technolgy then that we do now . the info would have gotten out in hours not days . :twocents:

shadowangel
11-11-2005, 07:22 AM
With a case that has lain dormant for 60 years, conjecture, theory, and wild speculation are all we have until facts are uncovered. Only by asking these questions WILL the truth be uncovered. Until we began really digging at this case, there was no discussion that I can find. (I googled up a few references to alien abduction)... I am certainly sympathetic to the family--but there are difficult questions that will have to be considered. At this point I have to applaud the courage shown by Upallnite-for anyone who has not read the thread "Mary G, Found Sun...", Upallnite's sister died under very suspicious circumstances. Several of us-Shadow205 and Mysteriew to mention only a couple-really took that case to heart. We have, and continue, to ask questions that we don't feel comfortable asking (the lengthy discussion of the autopsy report, for instance)...But is only through these questions, in the light of no apparent law enforcement interest, will the truth ever see the light of day. I think most of us rarely lose sight of the fact that we are discussing real people and real lives here.
I personally am not willing to walk any lighter simply because police now show an interest, when the facts of the Sodder children have been out there, somewhere, for more than half a century. If a member of the family is uncomfortable, however, please ask them to let us know and I will respect their wishes.
It should not have been up to the vague boyhood memory of middle-aged me to get this rolling again...
(Sorry, I've been at work since yesterday morning and am a little grumpy!!! :blowkiss: )

on the trail
11-11-2005, 07:47 AM
other questions , what other type of work did mr morris do besides run the fire dept ,it was a vol fire dept , who else ruled on the cause of the fire. was it just local folks or others . was there a jewish-italian spat in the area at the time.

Stacy Horn
11-11-2005, 09:30 AM
I'm sorry! I honestly wasn't accusing anyone and I'm not trying to censor anyone. I'm probably just projecting, but I thought some people wouldn't mind a reminder that the family is reading every word. I personally word things differently, depending on who my audience is. No one else has to!

shadowangel
11-11-2005, 10:14 AM
I'm sorry! I honestly wasn't accusing anyone and I'm not trying to censor anyone. I'm probably just projecting, but I thought some people wouldn't mind a reminder that the family is reading every word. I personally word things differently, depending on who my audience is. No one else has to!I already said I'm being a grump today! :angel: :blowkiss:

LButler
11-11-2005, 10:40 AM
If I have posted or happen to post something in the future that steps on a family member's toes or someone else involved in the story, I apologize now. However, if I didn't care about a family losing 5 kids and the tragedy of the whole event, I wouldn't be spending my time looking at it and posting. I'm sure George and Jenny had to uncover a lot of pain to continue searching for their missing children all those years ago. If the family is uncomfortable with our brainstorming and discussions here, let us know. I will completely honor their wishes and not post anymore.

I have posted things about possible Mafia involvement. Do I think that George and Jenny were mobsters? No, I don't. I think that they were hard-working people raising 10 kids (who were said to be very well-behaved) and something terrible happened to them. They didn't deserve it. I still do believe that somewhere in the family (or a friend) was a link to something bad (who's family doesn't have a bad apple or 2?).

I have deep respect for George, Jenny and the siblings. For me personally, regardless of who was involved, my drive in this is to determine if the "kids" are out there somewhere. If we had proof they were murdered, it would be an unsolved murder, and that's sad but probably not solveable. I just have a gut feeling that some of them are alive and may not know who they really are. Once again, I would never post something with the intent to hurt anyone's feelings.

Marilynilpa
11-11-2005, 11:15 AM
If I have posted or happen to post something in the future that steps on a family member's toes or someone else involved in the story, I apologize now. However, if I didn't care about a family losing 5 kids and the tragedy of the whole event, I wouldn't be spending my time looking at it and posting. I'm sure George and Jenny had to uncover a lot of pain to continue searching for their missing children all those years ago. If the family is uncomfortable with our brainstorming and discussions here, let us know. I will completely honor their wishes and not post anymore.

I have posted things about possible Mafia involvement. Do I think that George and Jenny were mobsters? No, I don't. I think that they were hard-working people raising 10 kids (who were said to be very well-behaved) and something terrible happened to them. They didn't deserve it. I still do believe that somewhere in the family (or a friend) was a link to something bad (who's family doesn't have a bad apple or 2?).

I have deep respect for George, Jenny and the siblings. For me personally, regardless of who was involved, my drive in this is to determine if the "kids" are out there somewhere. If we had proof they were murdered, it would be an unsolved murder, and that's sad but probably not solveable. I just have a gut feeling that some of them are alive and may not know who they really are. Once again, I would never post something with the intent to hurt anyone's feelings.
I have posted things that I know must be upsetting to any family members reading these posts, and I apologize if their feelings are hurt. I hope they realize that there is a lot of speculation on this message board, especially when there is a cold case such as this one, where there aren't a lot of hard facts to go on.

Having said that, I will still post my thoughts on this matter, even though they are upsetting to the family. I don't do that to hurt the family, but to add to the discussion about these missing children. The more various ideas are talked about and "kicked around", the more likely it will be that this mystery will be solved. And while I hope these children (now adults) are alive and happy, it would be unrealistic not to consider the possibility that something terrible happened to them the night of the fire.:(

fox1950
11-11-2005, 11:32 AM
Sometimes everything has to be discussed to get to the truth.

From what I have heard Jennie and George were good-well liked people. What happened to them was tragic. Sadly, I bet before they left this world, they were still praying for answers. I think, if they knew, they would be pretty happy that someone still cares and wants to find out. They could get no answers while they were living.

I do not think anyone on this board has any interest in this case other than to see it solved. I would never say anything to offend the sister. I am glad she is interested and wants the case solved.

Everyone's ideas are important - someone may hit the nail on the head. In honor of the Sodders, I say lets still post and look for answers.

on the trail
11-11-2005, 11:45 AM
i have thought about this alot. how would i react if something like this had happened to my family. i don't know how to answer that. would i wonder why the interst . i don't know what i would say. if i have said something to hurt the familys feelings i am sorry, if you feel that we are being nosy let us know . i would just hope that at some point you just would finally get some type of closure once and for all. the not knowing part is what would get me the most.

Shadow205
11-15-2005, 07:33 AM
Hey guys, what has happened to everybody? Was there a joint decision to stop talking about this case and nobody told me or what? I read all of the above posts and the concerns that were in there but I didn't think everyone was going to just stop. I think that it is great that some of the Sodder family has found us here at WS's. If I were in their shoes, I think that I would appreciate that after 60 years there is still interest. Enough of that, back to sleuthing.

What about age progression? Does anyone have a contact who might be able to help out with that? I think that Louis would be the best one for that. I would love for someone to look at the photo that was sent to Mrs. Sodder and get an opinion on whether they think it was indeed Louis and then progress it on to age 70 which is what Louis would be today. I think the next best candidate would be Betty, who was 6 yoa the night of the fire. I would love to know how much if at all Marian & Sylvia looked like each other. Does Betty look like them? I think if we could get age progression pictures done we would be a step closer to finding them.

Marilynilpa
11-15-2005, 01:38 PM
Hey guys, what has happened to everybody? Was there a joint decision to stop talking about this case and nobody told me or what? I read all of the above posts and the concerns that were in there but I didn't think everyone was going to just stop. I think that it is great that some of the Sodder family has found us here at WS's. If I were in their shoes, I think that I would appreciate that after 60 years there is still interest. Enough of that, back to sleuthing.

What about age progression? Does anyone have a contact who might be able to help out with that? I think that Louis would be the best one for that. I would love for someone to look at the photo that was sent to Mrs. Sodder and get an opinion on whether they think it was indeed Louis and then progress it on to age 70 which is what Louis would be today. I think the next best candidate would be Betty, who was 6 yoa the night of the fire. I would love to know how much if at all Marian & Sylvia looked like each other. Does Betty look like them? I think if we could get age progression pictures done we would be a step closer to finding them.
I have no idea how to get age progression pictures done. I see them sometimes in Doe Network files, but don't know whether Doe Network does them, or if they are provided to Doe Network by someone else.

As to the question of why no one has been posting - I can only speak for myself, obviously, but I haven't posted anything because most of our fellow sleuths look at this from a different perspective than I do, so I'm sitting back and taking it all in. Who knows, maybe I'll change my mind!

on the trail
11-15-2005, 02:09 PM
i have asked some questions , just waiting for parts of the puzzle to come out. i agree with the age photo's it would be intersting to see the results.

on the trail
11-17-2005, 11:58 AM
so what has happened to Ms Horn , :boohoo: did this thread move or something? :boohoo: