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Nocgirl
12-15-2006, 03:00 PM
What a strange story. Sorry if this has been posted already. I( cannot imagine these parents losing 5 of their children to unknown circumstances. Doenetwork has a good story on them too.

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5067563

HollywoodBound
12-15-2006, 03:06 PM
It's a very sad story. They have a couple threads, here is one of them in case you want to take a look:
http://www.websleuths.com/forums/showthread.php?t=35000&page=1&highlight=Sodder

Richard
12-15-2006, 03:13 PM
Good article. This month marks the 61st anniversary of their disappearance. There actually are a couple of Websleuths threads on the missing Sodder children with over 30,000 hits between them. Try these links:

Websleuths Crime Sleuthing Community - Missing in WV

http://www.websleuths.com/forums/showthread.php?t=22973

Websleuths Crime Sleuthing Community - Missing in WV (Sodder Family) #2

http://www.websleuths.com/forums/showthread.php?t=35000

You can also go to the "Search" window and type in "Sodder", then click on the go button. You will be shown any thread in this section which mentions them.

Nocgirl
12-15-2006, 04:17 PM
Richard, thanks. Sometimes when I do searches on here, nothing comes up but I did not bother to search this before I posted it.


What a sad, but fascinating case.

I wonder why a movie has not been made about this?

How many siblings are still alive in this family? I know both parents are dead right?

Shadow205
12-15-2006, 08:15 PM
Nogirl,

Your question is a difficult one to answer as far as how many of the children are still living. I for one think that the five did not die in that fire.

Sylvia, who was the baby is still searching for what happened to her siblings and is active here on WebSleauth's thru her Daughter who posts under the name Granddaughter.

reb
12-16-2006, 02:24 AM
OK.. LOTS of questions here--
what kind of name is sodder? english? german? it's not an italian name (unless it was altered)- is the italian (or sicilian) on their mom's side? and what connection did they have with the mafia, if any? and since when were children sold to orphanages? for what purpose would anyone do that? (they seem a bit old for that anyway.. would expect that more with babies or very young children if it was some kind of illegal adoption ring.)

and, what kind of mafia influence existed in that town, if at all? were they involved in the unions and what was mr. sodder's profession- did he have any run-ins with them, perhaps he was discouraging union activity which rubbed the mob the wrong way...?
it does appear the fire chief was involved in a cover-up-- hence the box with the liver in it... maybe he was trying to convince the father to let it go and move on by this lame attempt at manufacturing 'evidence'... since the father did not die in the fire, as expected by someone- the fire chief himself, maybe? was he paid off by the mob to not respond quicker to the fire, and not investigate thoroughly, and to plant fake evidence?

the strange caller-- makes me think that they were targeted by someone who had the wrong house--? or maybe the killers were calling to find out if (whoever they wanted to kill) was home?

i wonder if the kids were kidnapped as an afterthought-- i.e., they went there to kill the family, and when the kids went outside to investigate, they ordered them outside and kidnapped them (possibly took them to another location and killed them, since they were witnesses)-- then tried to kill the rest of the family. why would they have been taken back to italy-- for what purpose? and wouldn't any of them try at some point in adulthood to go back home and investigate what happened?

that's so sad that the poor parents (and siblings) never ever gave up. and they recieved very little help for their efforts-- which must have been incredibly heartbreaking.

reb
12-16-2006, 03:02 AM
OK-- i see now, he had a coal trucking business. hhhhhmmmmmm... since there are so many clues pointing to 'group effort'-- i'm thinking a union or mafia thing, definitely. a run-in with teamsters maybe..... or anti-teamsters.. or mob members trying to control the teamsters?

also, did they immigrate WITH their kids or before they had kids? wondering if they still had active ties in italy, & if the kids were born there...

and in the article it says "a man was seen taking a block & chain (presumably to throw a body into a lake?) from the sodder's garage- and admitted cutting their electric line-- BUT NEVER WENT TO TRIAL?? can someone please explain this to me.....??? well, who WAS this man? was he arrested on site, and why was he taking stuff out of the garage right in front of them? i am thinking a crowd gathered and he just went in there in all the confusion and took it, thinking the family was dead-- but how did he think he would not be noticed?
and about the half-photo that was sent to them of one of their sons-- he says "that letter, like all our others, had been opened and resealed"- what does that mean? all their mail was like this? so the local post office was in on it too? i'm wondering now if the mob had such a hold on the town that everyone was terrified to speak out, and to refuse to do their bidding.

or perhaps the community hated him because his business was successful (was it?), and he was an italian immigrant?

the phone caller- did she have an italian accent? what was the name she asked for- was that italian too?

OK... i'm now sifting through everyone's posts and i see many of these questions & ideas have been posted before--- well, these are just my first imrpessions for what they are worth.

Shadow205
12-16-2006, 08:25 AM
OK-- i see now, he had a coal trucking business. hhhhhmmmmmm... since there are so many clues pointing to 'group effort'-- i'm thinking a union or mafia thing, definitely. a run-in with teamsters maybe..... or anti-teamsters.. or mob members trying to control the teamsters?

also, did they immigrate WITH their kids or before they had kids? wondering if they still had active ties in italy, & if the kids were born there...

and in the article it says "a man was seen taking a block & chain (presumably to throw a body into a lake?) from the sodder's garage- and admitted cutting their electric line-- BUT NEVER WENT TO TRIAL?? can someone please explain this to me.....??? well, who WAS this man? was he arrested on site, and why was he taking stuff out of the garage right in front of them? i am thinking a crowd gathered and he just went in there in all the confusion and took it, thinking the family was dead-- but how did he think he would not be noticed?
and about the half-photo that was sent to them of one of their sons-- he says "that letter, like all our others, had been opened and resealed"- what does that mean? all their mail was like this? so the local post office was in on it too? i'm wondering now if the mob had such a hold on the town that everyone was terrified to speak out, and to refuse to do their bidding.

or perhaps the community hated him because his business was successful (was it?), and he was an italian immigrant?

the phone caller- did she have an italian accent? what was the name she asked for- was that italian too?

OK... i'm now sifting through everyone's posts and i see many of these questions & ideas have been posted before--- well, these are just my first imrpessions for what they are worth.
I would suggest that you start at the beginning of thread #1 and read it in it's entirity then read all of thread # 2. I think that you will find answers to all of your questions. Well maybe not the answer but at least where it has been discussed/researched. I honestly don't think that there has been a stone left unturned at this point.
In answer to your question, "What kind of name is Sodder?" It was changed from Soddu to Sodder upon coming to America.
We found this post on ancestry.com :

Re: Family History
Author: adelaide Date: 23 Aug 2003 12:45 PM GMT
Surnames: Dessena Adelaide Ignazia Lalla
Classification: Query

Our grand father Salvatore Soddu had a brother, is name was Giorgio, he goes in USA west virginia in beginning 1900, he was 16 years old.He changed his surname in Sodder, we have a photo of George family (1960),he had five soons,and his wife's name was Maria Cipriani. We live in Italy, Sardegna in a little village Tula in Sassari's provincia. We are Ignazia,Adelaide e Lalla Dessena our mother is Anna Maria Soddu.Sorry for our english. Is the person that you are looking for? bye bye


We were never able to establish contact with the person who posted that information.

michelle
12-16-2006, 12:13 PM
Is it possible that they perished in the fire?

HollywoodBound
12-16-2006, 12:33 PM
I think it's always a possibility but they were not found after the fire and that has raised the doubt that they perished.

christine2448
05-13-2008, 04:30 PM
Continue General Discussion here please.


Missing in WV (Sodder Family) #1 (http://www.websleuths.com/forums/showthread.php?t=22973)

Missing in WV (Sodder Family) #2 (http://www.websleuths.com/forums/showthread.php?t=35000)

catsy101
05-16-2008, 08:58 PM
Ok just so you guys all know, I am not giving up. But here is what a fire cheif sent me on my inquiry. Again, I have NOT dropped the case. We're still awaiting the photograph of potentially what may have been Betty Sodder.

Carla,

Yours is a difficult question to answer for sure without all the facts, but it is not uncommon for very little to remain of the victim of a fire death. So many things contribute to the destruction of items or victims in a fire. The amount of heat generated in a house fire will vary depending upon the contents and construction type. In 1945 the chances are good that this was a wood framed structure and this would often generate a lot of heat. Ultimately, the temperature obtained in a fire will greatly determine the amount of destruction to everything, including people. These days we see different types of body damage to fire victims that range from no burns at all as a result of smoke inhalation, to the extreme almost cremation of the remains. Again, there is no rule of thumb, this is very dependent on the situation. To try and answer your question I would have to say, it is possible that not much of the remains were left. Also remember technology has greatly improved since 1945 in all aspects of firefighting, building construction, and even fire investigation. We may recognize items today that we can define as human remains, whereas in 1945 they may have gone unnoticed or remained covered in debris. Your story is a sad situation that we still see today as my department responded to a fire in Dec 06 with 5 fire deaths including children. I hope this information helped as I tried to answer as best I can without all the facts.

Scott Schill
Fire Chief
Bedington VFD - Martinsburg, WV

catsy101
05-19-2008, 01:37 PM
All right. I have some unfortunate news. The magazine I thought it might be in has photos of a ballet class, but that ballet class was located in California. So it cannot be right. I can't believe that George would be that wrong about the photo. I'm really starting to become confused, are we sure he saw what he believed to be his daughter in a magazine? From Walt Whitman school? And are we positive this school was located in New York, NY?

catsy101
05-20-2008, 11:49 AM
the reason I ask is because I am not big on conspiracy theories. Please don't try and tell me that every magazine with this photo shoot was destroyed by mobsters, I won't buy it. I mean, and I hate to say this, could it be possible that George was mistaken?

catsy101
05-20-2008, 07:18 PM
Granddaughter, the lead you had we heard about some time ago, have you gotten anywhere with it? Do you know anything new? Anything new can help us.

catsy101
05-20-2008, 10:31 PM
http://www.jstandard.com/articles/1436/1/Local-woman-takes-%91Pride%92-in-her-childhood (http://www.jstandard.com/articles/1436/1/Local-woman-takes-%91Pride%92-in-her-childhood)

Can somebody find photos related to this children's home? I am beginning to wonder if Betty had been placed in an orphanage if she was taken.

christine2448
05-20-2008, 10:43 PM
Here is a webpage on them with photos

http://www.kesh.com/hnoh/PJCH.html#PHOTO


try this, maybe a few

http://images.google.com/images?um=1&hl=en&rlz=1T4GWYE_enUS234US234&sa=X&oi=spell&resnum=0&ct=result&cd=1&q=Pride+of+Judea+Orphans+Home+Brooklyn&spell=1

fox1950
05-21-2008, 07:06 AM
could it be possible that George was mistaken?

:bang:The picture is a mystery to me also. But I know it is out there somewhere. My mind keeps coming up with the fact that there were children in the May 14, 1946, Look Magazine that were art students. Now I that I have moved, I have lost track of my magazine, but I definately want to find it to look again. I know there isn't a mistake as to it being a ballet class, but isn't it odd that there are actually small children in that issue?

catsy101
05-21-2008, 12:45 PM
Just sent them a photo of the real Betty Sodder. They can use this to compare it to photos they have there, and can also circulate it to people who stayed there at the time, they can see if they knew or remember her, or even maybe still know her.

catsy101
05-21-2008, 12:46 PM
And if she stayed there, they might even circulate it to her.

catsy101
05-21-2008, 05:00 PM
Fox, if you can find your magazine, would you please post some of the photos for us to see? I am trying to get a feel of the look of their magazine, the feel of it, etc.

fox1950
05-21-2008, 07:03 PM
Fox, if you can find your magazine, would you please post some of the photos for us to see? I am trying to get a feel of the look of their magazine, the feel of it, etc.
I will look for it, but it will be next week before I can get to it. Can't download the picture but could copy and send it to someone who could. My printer and scanner are not set up yet.

catsy101
05-21-2008, 09:29 PM
Thank you fox.

catsy101
05-21-2008, 11:44 PM
I asked the fire dept about the questions Marian had in her letter I have on my comp. Here are their answers.

Carla,

Again, I do not like to speculate but will try and answer your questions as best I can.

1. There was no screaming from the children. Is this typical?
If the children died in their sleep from smoke inhalation there would most likely be no screaming.

2. We could not smell any burning flesh, something we are sure that with five children we would have smelled. Could a strong wind have totally taken that away?
I was not around in 45 to know for sure, but I have been on many fatal fires in today's type of construction materials. There are so many different fumes and odors present at a fire scene due to the many types of materials that have burned, you may or may not get a distinctive flesh odor, more often than not we just smell burned odors from plastics, paint, household chemicals and things like that.

3. The fire is believed to have begun on the roof, yet we were told that this fire was due to electrical. I would think the fire would have started in the walls had it been due to a fire. What do you think?
I cannot speculate on this one, but I will say electrical wires often traveled in attic areas and inner roof supports in older balloon frame construction. I have also seen lightning start fires on roof areas.

4. We were told as stated above that this fire was due to faulty electrical problems, yet the lights of our home remained lit, even as the fire progressed. Have you ever witnessed such an event, where although it was an electrical fire, the lights stayed on throughout most of the fire? If you have, would you say this is typical?
What I do know is that even in older home wiring, homes were divided into different circuits, often fused in those days, mostly breakers these days. Based on that school of thought it would be possible to have 1 circuit short out or blow the fuse, and the power remain on in a different circuit of the house. Many times we arrive to find the main power is still live during the process of us fighting the fire, that is why we often request the power company to expedite. Sometimes even after the fire burns the main feed wire into, the wire falls to the ground and is still live from that point to the pole, sometimes even arcing or jumping around.

Once again, I can image how bad this experience would have been for the family, and I know they have doubts and or hopes as to the outcome. I realize they are searching for the truth as to what really happened, and I really don't think that can truly be determined at this point over 50 years later. So many things have changed since then, included the training we receive to investigate fires, and DNA and forensic testing. Fire departments in those days, especially rural departments just were not trained at the levels we are today, and they did not have the equipment or resources that we have now. Even with modern technology, and a highly trained and skilled investigator such as a fire marshal, sometimes even today we do not always know for sure exactly what happened on every fire. As a fire chief and almost 30 years of experience I can recognize the pain of the family with unanswered questions. I would remind them that even through we can never go back and change what happened that night, they can take steps to prevent this from happening again by installing smoke detectors and recognize signs of faulty wiring or other hazards. Again I am sorry for your loss.

Scott Schill
Fire Chief
Bedington VFD - Martinsburg, WV

catsy101
05-22-2008, 03:53 PM
I have not given up. I want to prove that either the children DID die or DID NOT die in that fire. If they did, I think we need some definite proof, not just a possibility or a probability. If they did not, we need to find out what happened to them, why they never came back, and what they know, IE --- If we find one of them, do they know what happened to their brothers or sisters?

Granddaughter
05-25-2008, 02:21 PM
My mom thought you might be interested in the attached document. I have not seen in elsewhere before. We calculated the date as approximately 1951 based on the comment on page 3 that "Maurice would now be 20 years old."

Teresa Larson
05-26-2008, 01:42 AM
My mom thought you might be interested in the attached document. I have not seen in elsewhere before. We calculated the date as approximately 1951 based on the comment on page 3 that "Maurice would now be 20 years old."

Thank you for posting this Granddaughter! This confirms some of the things I have been saying all along. The house burned to the ground in about 35 minutes. Which tells you that the fire burned hot and fast BUT not long enough to cremate the children's bodies and even if they died of smoke inhalation there would have been some bones left there after the fire. It also says the Mafia was probably involved I am sure that's the reason the people that investigated this did a very poor job. They knew why and how it happened and weren't about to risk their own lives. I wish we could talk to someone that was living around the area when it happened. This many years later they might be willing to talk.

catsy101
05-26-2008, 02:51 AM
Do we have any people in West Virginia? If we do, we could have someone go door to door. Someone who has lived there their whole lives, and was in their teens or early twenties at the time, may still be alive and may be willing to talk. Or families of the people there at the time.

birdie74
05-28-2008, 08:07 PM
Hi everyone. This is my 1st post, so I'm sorry it's so long. I just have a lot of questions I've been wanting to ask, mainly about the Cipriani side of the family, and I was hoping maybe Granddaughter could ask her mother about it.

I don't want to sound like I'm accusing anyone, especially part of their family, but since Mr. Sodder went all the way to FL to try to get answers and didn't get them, I think it's worth exploring. If they were involved, it may have been to protect them as others have suggested.

Why was the man who threatened them before the fire upset that Mr. Sodder wouldn't settle his father-in-law's estate? Had there been a falling out between Mrs. Sodder and her family, maybe after her father's death? Were they contesting the will? Why did this man care? Was he an attorney for any of the Ciprianis or connected to them in any other way? Did the Ciprianis have pull with the other leaders of the community? Do you think they had mob ties?

Why were the 2 oldest sons listed twice in the 1930 census, shown living with both the Sodders and Ciprianis? Did they live with their grandparents a while, or did they spend of lot of time staying there?

Could "I love brother Frankie" be referring to to Frank Cipriani, or maybe his son, Frank Jr.? Could one of Jennie's other siblings sent it, and maybe written that as an explanation for not doing anything to stop it or to let her know where their loyalty still lies? Or maybe one of the Cipriani or Sodder kids wrote it about Frank Jr. just playing around.

I would think Mr. Sodder's trip to FL would have strained the relationship with Frank's branch of the family, but I hoped Sylvia could share what the relationship was like overall with the Ciprianis as she grew up. Were they close to her grandmother? What about her aunts and uncles?

I think if they were involved it could explain why the kids never came back, especially if they were convinced the mob killed the rest of their family, and that relatives saved them and changed their identities to protect them.

Am I completely off-track?

Teresa Larson
05-29-2008, 01:13 AM
I don't think you are off at all. Anything is possible. You have brought up some interesting questions.

Granddaughter
05-29-2008, 01:52 PM
I had promised to post photos of Mom and Mary Ann (Marion) when they were close to the age Louis would have been in the photo that my grandmother received. They are posted on the photo page.

I know you'd like to see the boys (Joe, John, and Ted), but Mom doesn't have any photos of them from that age. The ones we have are much older. We do have a couple of photos of Joe from the military, but you can't see his facial features, just the long, lean shape.

Which brings up the height issue also. FYI - in case you have success and are looking for similarities - my grandmother was very short (maybe 4'10"), and my mom is about 4'11." Marion was about 5'4." Joe was nearly 6' tall. My grandfather, John, and Ted fall somewhere in the middle. There was a wide variance in body size and shape.

fox1950
05-29-2008, 09:53 PM
Hi everyone. This is my 1st post, so I'm sorry it's so long. I just have a lot of questions I've been wanting to ask, mainly about the Cipriani side of the family, and I was hoping maybe Granddaughter could ask her mother about it.

I don't want to sound like I'm accusing anyone, especially part of their family, but since Mr. Sodder went all the way to FL to try to get answers and didn't get them, I think it's worth exploring. If they were involved, it may have been to protect them as others have suggested.

Why was the man who threatened them before the fire upset that Mr. Sodder wouldn't settle his father-in-law's estate? Had there been a falling out between Mrs. Sodder and her family, maybe after her father's death? Were they contesting the will? Why did this man care? Was he an attorney for any of the Ciprianis or connected to them in any other way? Did the Ciprianis have pull with the other leaders of the community? Do you think they had mob ties?

Why were the 2 oldest sons listed twice in the 1930 census, shown living with both the Sodders and Ciprianis? Did they live with their grandparents a while, or did they spend of lot of time staying there?

Could "I love brother Frankie" be referring to to Frank Cipriani, or maybe his son, Frank Jr.? Could one of Jennie's other siblings sent it, and maybe written that as an explanation for not doing anything to stop it or to let her know where their loyalty still lies? Or maybe one of the Cipriani or Sodder kids wrote it about Frank Jr. just playing around.

I would think Mr. Sodder's trip to FL would have strained the relationship with Frank's branch of the family, but I hoped Sylvia could share what the relationship was like overall with the Ciprianis as she grew up. Were they close to her grandmother? What about her aunts and uncles?

I think if they were involved it could explain why the kids never came back, especially if they were convinced the mob killed the rest of their family, and that relatives saved them and changed their identities to protect them.

Am I completely off-track? I think you made some very good points.

"I Love Brother Frankie" -Could it mean I love your brother Frankie (Mrs. Sodder's brother). He is the one who was involved in saving us.

90132-35 - This is where I am living in Italy. But I am safe.

"ilil boys"- Maybe a hint that this is really me (Louis). Something that perhaps Mrs. Sodder called him as a little boy.

birdie74
05-29-2008, 11:36 PM
I hadn't thought of the possibility of Louis or one of the other kids sending the picture, but that would make sense.

It had been a few months since I first heard of this case and read all the posts and articles, so I couldn't remember all of the details. I had forgotten Janutolo's name, so I reread that part today. No matter which Janutolo it was, neither one was a lawyer; both were businessmen. It seems like he would almost have to be connected to the Ciprianis in some way or have some vested interest in the estate. Could he have wanted to buy property from Joseph Cipriani's estate but couldn't since it hadn't been settled? I know wills and land records are made public, but I wonder what other details of the estate settlement can be read in public documents.

Rhett
05-30-2008, 10:40 AM
But why would George and Jennie continue to so publicly and actively look for their children if they thought it was a revenge(mob, family, or whatever) kidnapping? They would know that this is the reason and they wouldn't have been so public about their search for fear of reprisal against them and the children. I think if this was the case they would have never put up two billboards, searched the property for bones, went to New York to find the little girl in the picture, etc. I honestly don't think they ever knew what happened to their children because if it was a mob hit or a family hit they would have went along with believing at least publicly that they died in the fire. If it was a mob hit because George wouldn't pay money to them then George would have known that. He would have been told so that he would start paying money to keep any more bad things from happening to the family. Does this make sense?

christine2448
05-30-2008, 11:26 AM
But why would George and Jennie continue to so publicly and actively look for their children if they thought it was a revenge(mob, family, or whatever) kidnapping? They would know that this is the reason and they wouldn't have been so public about their search for fear of reprisal against them and the children. I think if this was the case they would have never put up two billboards, searched the property for bones, went to New York to find the little girl in the picture, etc. I honestly don't think they ever knew what happened to their children because if it was a mob hit or a family hit they would have went along with believing at least publicly that they died in the fire. If it was a mob hit because George wouldn't pay money to them then George would have known that. He would have been told so that he would start paying money to keep any more bad things from happening to the family. Does this make sense?


I think your post makes allota sense, FWIW.

birdie74
05-30-2008, 06:38 PM
Rhett, I see what you mean and you made some good points. I don't think the Sodders knew for sure who did it and just tried to follow every lead they got, but they did go public about a lot of their suspicions. The media articles didn't name Mr. Janutolo by name, but it was known of the man who made the threats. Mr. Sodder's trip to Florida was also made public.

Who knows? Like people keep saying, nothing seems to make complete sense. I know there are holes in all the theories I read and come up with myself. It just seems that a lot of people were involved, and it seems to me that Janutolo would probably be one of the main ones behind it after his threat that was so specific.

I just have a feeling that some extended family may have been involved too, but there's no real evidence against them. Maybe they were planning to be part of arson only, and like others suggested, maybe the phone call was supposed to wake them up so they would pay but not die in the fire. Then when the kids were outside, they may have seen too much. Maybe the only options to keep them from talking would be to kill them or take them out of the country.

Again, there are holes. It doesn't seem like they would have believed their captors and stayed gone all these years if that were the case. I'm still baffled!

fox1950
06-07-2008, 11:22 AM
Again, there are holes. It doesn't seem like they would have believed their captors and stayed gone all these years if that were the case. I'm still baffled!
You and me, both. I can see the youngest falling into another life and not having too many solid memories of being with their family, but the older ones baffle me also.

I wonder if there is any way possible the Sodder children forum could be cleaned up-it has turned into a porn site-and the porn being blocked so it doesn't come back after it is deleted. I would love for the site to stay up-without the porn.

bluesky
06-11-2008, 11:00 PM
First time post. I have been reading for awhile and am a bit confused. How is Ciprianis and Janutolo related to the case? Are they related to the sodders?

fox1950
06-12-2008, 09:09 AM
The Ciprianis were Mrs. Sodder's parents. Janotolo was a former business associate of Mr. Sodder and a prominent businessman in the Fayetteville area.

birdie74
06-13-2008, 07:14 AM
There were 2 Janutolo cousins who were both prominant businessmen in the area at the time, and it's unclear which of the two it was, but one of them had apparently gotten mad at Mr. Sodder a few months before the fire because Sodder wouldn't buy insurance from him or settle his father-in-law's estate. Jennie's dad, Joseph Cipriani, had died the year before the fire. When Janutolo left, he said that Mr. Sodder would pay for all the bad things he had been saying about Mussolini and his house would burn and his children would pay. This isn't an exact quote. I'm going by memory, but most of the articles about the case mention this incident, just not Janutolo's name.

Jennie had a brother named Frank Cipriani who had moved down to Cortez, Fl sometime in the 30's or early 40's. Mr. Sodder used to travel to follow up any clues he got, and at one point he went down to where Frank was living because he heard that some of the kids were living down there. He tried to get help from the authorities to search for them there, but no one would help him and he wasn't able to find out anything. It's interesting that someone claimed to see the kids not long after the fire with people with a Fl license plate.

catsy101
06-13-2008, 01:17 PM
After doing some over the phone interviews and some new searching I have a few questions for granddaughter. One old woman I talked to was in her early twenties living in Fayetteville, WV the night these children, Died/Went Missing. She told me that this mystery really got to her because she had to pass the billboard when it was put up on her way home. Her belief was that anyone would have given the kids back, even the mob, for that much money back than. She said she would hear other people talking about how they believed the kids were dead. But the bodies wouldn't be totally gone either. Than she asked me a question I could not answer, did the Sodder family have a well? I thought about that but it didn't dawn on me, at what she was getting at. Why in the heck would the kids try to play with a well, near a well, etc? She said, "Because you know, if they went to the well to get some water to try and put out the fire, and it was nighttime and dark out, couldn't they have fallen INTO the well? Did anyone check that?". I didn't know what to say. This had NEVER occurred to me. The second thing she said sent chills up my spine, she said, "And if they DIDN'T have a well, and the kids tried to walk down to a stream or something to get water if one had fallen in and was being swept away, were they the kind of children to let it happen, or would they have tried to jump in after the one who got swept away?" Both of these ideas have stuck with me. Granddaughter, you are the only one who might know the answer to this. Did they have a well, and if so was it searched? And if not, did they have a fast moving stream nearby? Was there an emergency fire plan? Back than most people didn't have them, but if the plan was say for the oldest children and the father to go down to the water to fetch some to put out the fire, but the children believed the father and older children were locked in the house, and couldn't get out, surely they would have tried to do it to save them, right? Just some thoughts. I also was called back by that orphanage, and no luck as of yet on the photo they are searching for. But they are still searching. Children's aid society is STILL looking as well. I also found a few TIME magazines and have looked through them but no luck yet on the photo. I am not quitting. Sorry for the delays.

catsy101
06-13-2008, 01:26 PM
I have another question. Someone else I spoke with told me that she was only eight when the kids went missing. She said she and other children were terrified of what might have happened, while most of the adults agreed with the fire department that the children had been killed in the fire and their bodies destroyed. Anyway, she said when she was ten she heard some grown-ups talking about "sparing parents" from seeing "that". She said it was so odd she remembers it to this day. She told me it was while she was cleaning the kitchen. She said during the same conversation she had heard them mention in quiet tones the Sodder kids. Still wondering if it was an unofficial thing to hide the bodies from the parents if the bodies were severely mutilated, were like watching a horror movie. Could Fayetteville firemen have taken it upon themselves to hide these bodies? I mean the thing is it sounds as though they were hiding something, thus the bringing out some bones, (much less tramatic to see), bringing out the liver, etc. If they had just buried the bodies after hiding them someplace, we'd never know where the real burial places were, but I would guess that they would be buried not too far from the Sodder's home. Just a thought. Perhaps they thought it was a kindness, but it turned out to be just a cruelty. Sometimes people try to be kind and end up being quite cruel without meaning to.

catsy101
06-13-2008, 01:35 PM
It is entirely possible I guess for those children to have been stolen by family from Florida. But WHY? That's what I want to know. Could it be possible that Frank was called by someone from Fayetteville and told the kids were in danger? And would Frank have taken this into his own hands to save the children? Without telling his brother? Another weird thing to this is why in the world would he have set fire to the home if he cared that much? Wouldn't he be frightened that George and Jennie and the older children might have perished in the fire? The only other possibility I could think of is the following scenario:::

George is frightened when he is told his children would pay and his home would burn

So instead of waiting for it to happen he does it himself.

And by this I mean he has his wife and children sitting outside, he has his wife's brother waiting for the kids he tries to send the baby but his wife cannot part with the baby so they make up the excuse that the baby was in the bedroom with Jennie and George

He sets the house ablaze

He runs his ladder far away so he can try and say that it wasn't there to get to the kids

They pour sugar in their own gastanks so the cars won't start and says I couldn't get up to my kids rooms

But if this is the truth why did he search for the kids? To get the mob off of his tail? It just doesn't make sense. Most of this doesn't make sense. And I don't think George would send his kids away and than spend (Literally) the rest of his life searching for them

Granddaughter
06-13-2008, 06:08 PM
I'm printing again for Mom. I think I know most of the questions, but before I misspeak, I'll run it all past her.

catsy101
06-13-2008, 08:03 PM
Okay just had a thought. Here is another scenario which makes a little more sense than the first one I had.

Jennie's brother has an informant call him and tell him to get to Fayetteville right away, and that the mob is going to hit the house, set it ablaze on Christmas eve, and if this was done, is it possible that he called the house to wake Jennie up, anonymously of course, and maybe even potentially threw something onto the roof to wake them up? If that happened, and say, the smaller kids were playing outside when the brother showed up maybe he told them to come with him. And of course, if they knew or were close to their uncle they would go. Could it be possible that he took them away because he wanted to protect them or was afraid that if the children ever told their parents or someone in Fayetteville it would get back that he was the one who helped to save the children from the mob? That he saved George and Jennie and the kids? By making the phone call, and throwing something on the roof? And one other things, they had a partial tin roof, right? In my letter from the fire dept, he said he has seen fires that started from Lighting hitting the roof. Would a tin roof be like a calling card for lightning to hit it? I'm wondering, would tin attract lightning? And if it did, would it sound like a big bang like what Mrs. Sodder reportedly heard on the roof? Another question about that, if she heard a big boom that sounded like it came from the roof, could that have just been some lightning and thunder? Okay cause if lightning struck the roof, could it be plausible that she heard thunder boom in the sky really loud? That could prove there was a lightning storm outside. You don't need rain to have an all out lightning storm, right? So if there was no stealing of children, etc, it could have just been a freak lightning strike that hit the roof which started the fire.

bluesky
06-13-2008, 09:45 PM
Was Janutolo in the mafia? What was the connection with Janutolo and Joseph Cipriani?

fox1950
06-13-2008, 10:27 PM
George is frightened when he is told his children would pay and his home would burn

So instead of waiting for it to happen he does it himself.

And by this I mean he has his wife and children sitting outside, he has his wife's brother waiting for the kids he tries to send the baby but his wife cannot part with the baby so they make up the excuse that the baby was But if this is the truth why did he search for the kids? To get the mob off of his tail? It just doesn't make sense. Most of this doesn't make sense. And I don't think George would send his kids away and than spend (Literally) the rest of his life searching for them
Catsy, great to see you back and in full swing! This one theory I seriously doubt because Mr. Sodder laid in the back of a car and had his son drive him around looking for the children in the last year of his life when he was dying of cancer. Mr. Sodder's arm was also cut and the older boys hair was burned trying to save the children.

I trend to go with your theory of the Cipriani family taking the children out of fear that Sodder's children would be killed, as was threatened. The theory of the "well" is interesting too. I am sure there were many in the area during that time period. Good way to get rid of them without anyone ever finding them.

Remember, also Frank Cipriani had a son named Frank, Jr. who was close in age (within a couple of years) of Louis. He could be "Brother Frankie".

Still haven't found the magazine but will keep looking.

This is probably the most confusing case I have ever seen. I think hiding the bodies and never letting the family know for sure that they had burned in the fire would be far worse than letting them see the bodies. At least seeing the bodies, or knowing there were reminds found would have brought closure which never happened while the Sodder's were living.

fox1950
06-13-2008, 10:33 PM
Was Janutolo in the mafia? What was the connection with Janutolo and Joseph Cipriani? I don't know if Janutolo was in the mafia. However, both cousins were prominent business men in Fayetteville however. Even today, there is a park named for them (I think they donated the land), in Fayetteville.

I don't know the real connection between Janutolo and the Cipriani's but undoubtly there was since Janutolo was concerned about settling Cipriani's estate.

Teresa Larson
06-14-2008, 02:26 AM
Okay just had a thought. Here is another scenario which makes a little more sense than the first one I had.

Jennie's brother has an informant call him and tell him to get to Fayetteville right away, and that the mob is going to hit the house, set it ablaze on Christmas eve, and if this was done, is it possible that he called the house to wake Jennie up, anonymously of course, and maybe even potentially threw something onto the roof to wake them up? If that happened, and say, the smaller kids were playing outside when the brother showed up maybe he told them to come with him. And of course, if they knew or were close to their uncle they would go. Could it be possible that he took them away because he wanted to protect them or was afraid that if the children ever told their parents or someone in Fayetteville it would get back that he was the one who helped to save the children from the mob? That he saved George and Jennie and the kids? By making the phone call, and throwing something on the roof? And one other things, they had a partial tin roof, right? In my letter from the fire dept, he said he has seen fires that started from Lighting hitting the roof. Would a tin roof be like a calling card for lightning to hit it? I'm wondering, would tin attract lightning? And if it did, would it sound like a big bang like what Mrs. Sodder reportedly heard on the roof? Another question about that, if she heard a big boom that sounded like it came from the roof, could that have just been some lightning and thunder? Okay cause if lightning struck the roof, could it be plausible that she heard thunder boom in the sky really loud? That could prove there was a lightning storm outside. You don't need rain to have an all out lightning storm, right? So if there was no stealing of children, etc, it could have just been a freak lightning strike that hit the roof which started the fire.


It was the middle of winter so I highly doubt there was any lightening and even if it did the roof was tin. I don't think anybody would have put sugar in the gas tanks of the truck(s) It was winter and probably below zero so that alone could have kept them from starting and even if they did put sugar in the gas tanks they would have at least started and ran for who knows how long. I also do not buy the theory of Mr Sodder doing this all himself. He searched for those kids until the day he died. The well or creek idea is something to think about.

Teresa Larson
06-14-2008, 02:31 AM
I don't know if Janutolo was in the mafia. However, both cousins were prominent business men in Fayetteville however. Even today, there is a park named for them (I think they donated the land), in Fayetteville.

I don't know the real connection between Janutolo and the Cipriani's but undoubtly there was since Janutolo was concerned about setting Cipriani's estate.

Did I miss something? Where did the name Janutolo come from? Who was he? I have never heard of him until now :waitasec:

birdie74
06-14-2008, 11:08 AM
In the older articles about this case they mentioned the incident about the man his threats and that Mr. Sodder later learned he was part of the inquest jury that ruled the deaths accidental, but they don't mention the man's name. When Stacy Horn got involved and did her story for NPR, she did include Janutolo's name. I can't remember if it was in her original story or in the info she posted later on her website. After that, there was some discussion about it on this website. I think it was the first thread, but it may have been the second.

I first read about this case last November and became so interested that I spent a few days just reading all the old articles and WS posts about the case. I wanted to post my ideas back then, but had trouble joining with my email at the time. Now that I have joined, I keep posting things about things I read a while back, so I'm sorry I'm confusing people.

Once in a while I think it might have been an accident and they died that night too, because none of the conspiracy stories completely make sense, but then when I go back and read about all of the weird things that happened, it seems there must be more to it. Janutolo is part of it, but also the guy who cut the phone lines and stole the block and tackle, then the ladder being moved. I just can't believe it's all coincidental.

catsy101
06-14-2008, 11:50 AM
I agree as stated in the message I really do not believe that George would have looked for the children if he knew darned well where they were. The only thing I can conceive of for doing that if he knew what happened to the kids would be to keep the mob off the kid's trail, but he wouldn't have gone so far. It would have been the biggest most elaborate hoax in history with no end and no real good reasoning behind it. Everything I have heard or read about George suggests he was of a good mind and wasn't a crazy person just searching for no reason. As for a well, it could have been accidental or it could have been a place to hide bodies. Whether it was a mob hit or a kindness by local firefighters to spare the parents remains yet to be seen. Does anyone also know if anytime around this time any bodies were fished out of a local stream? Back than it would have been hard to identify bodies and no one would have thought to ask Mr or Mrs Sodder about it because everyone agreed the kid's bodies were burned in the fire to ashes.

catsy101
06-14-2008, 12:06 PM
Were the kids close to their uncle? Would they have gone with him willingly? Would he have been the kind of person not to tell his sister and let her go through this kind of grief? Did George AND Jennie believe her family had the kids, or was it George who insisted they had the kids and went out there? Anyone know?

ALSO have another idea here totally unrelated to the first ---

I wish I could see the back of the photograph of the supposed "Louis Sodder". Ilil Boys. Was It written that way? Or could it have been Ill boys? If it was Ill boys, perhaps he was saying the boys were sick in the house or something of that nature. I would think though that perhaps the numbers were not an area in Italy. Because the brother frankie part doesn't work if Frankie was living in Florida. Unless... Anyone know if Frankie was sent to Italy? Like to a boarding school or to visit family or something? And if he was sent there, perhaps Louis was sent with him? Kind of, until the police got off of the family's trail?

Granddaughter can you find this out please? if Frankie JR was ever sent with his family or to a boarding school or something in Italy? Do you have any contact with that side of the family?

catsy101
06-14-2008, 12:08 PM
Also on a side note, any predators in that area? Animals I mean at the time? Anything that would have attacked five small children playing outside in the dark?

catsy101
06-14-2008, 12:11 PM
One more idea sorry to bombard everyone but

If it was Ill Boys and Brother Frankie could Louis have been placed in an orphanage? Brother Frankie could be referring to a holy man who ran an orphanage Ill Boys could mean the boys staying there were sick, something very common in large orphanages were sickness ran rampant most of the time, the photo could have been a photo taken, (I read somewhere that a lot of the orphans in New York were photographed and sometime placed in newspapers to find potential parents), and the numbers, well not sure about the numbers. Could be anything with the numbers.

Teresa Larson
06-14-2008, 11:58 PM
I agree as stated in the message I really do not believe that George would have looked for the children if he knew darned well where they were. The only thing I can conceive of for doing that if he knew what happened to the kids would be to keep the mob off the kid's trail, but he wouldn't have gone so far. It would have been the biggest most elaborate hoax in history with no end and no real good reasoning behind it. Everything I have heard or read about George suggests he was of a good mind and wasn't a crazy person just searching for no reason. As for a well, it could have been accidental or it could have been a place to hide bodies. Whether it was a mob hit or a kindness by local firefighters to spare the parents remains yet to be seen. Does anyone also know if anytime around this time any bodies were fished out of a local stream? Back than it would have been hard to identify bodies and no one would have thought to ask Mr or Mrs Sodder about it because everyone agreed the kid's bodies were burned in the fire to ashes.

The fire could not have burned hot enough to cremate them to ashes. There would have been bones left behind and there wasn't

christine2448
06-15-2008, 12:23 AM
OK...this might be a crazy question..but, I'm askin' anyway.

This happened so long ago. Could we go back now, to this area, and resift, re go through, test, yada yada? Technology has come so far. Or nahhhh. ?

Teresa Larson
06-15-2008, 01:24 AM
I am pretty sure they already did this or were going to. I'd have to go back and reread near the beginning of the thread.

birdie74
06-15-2008, 01:28 AM
I hope the area is resifted and searched again with modern equipment. It seems like I read on one of the earlier threads that the great-grandson Jonathan was trying to get that done. I think he said the current owners had agreed to it, but I don't remember reading that it ever happened.

I've been rereading the first thread tonight, and the first mention I see of Janutolo is post #347, and then several messages after that give alot of info about both of the Janutolo cousins.

LButler had a lot of interesting posts and I formed some of my opinions from them. In one of them she said that her father had worked for Janutolo and that she thought that Fire Chief Morris had been his bookkeeper. Could this be checked out somehow? I still think Janutolo's connection to the Cipriani estate might be something that could be uncovered somehow. Also, was he involved in selling legitimate life insurance? I still don't know if he was a mobster, but you always see the stereotypical mob guys on TV and in the movies who make innocent small businessmen pay for protection to keep bad things from happening to them, and that's the impression I get from this insurance thing.

Many of the old posts on the original thread keep talking about another forum that has a lot of good info, particularly about the Ciprianis. They keep mentioning someone on it called Lablover who had been trying to join WS. I can't find the forum, so can anyone lead me to it if it's still running?

Catsy, I like your idea about Frank possibly getting a phone call of warning it would happen. It makes more sense to me than most theories.

One last thing: the boys were reminded to do there chores before going to bed, apparently feeding the cows and locking the chicken coop. I remember reading something about Mrs. Sodder finding the lights stiil on and I can't remember if I read the door was open or not, but I guess she found it that way when she was woken by the phone call, so she turned off the lights and went to bed. Does anyone know whether it appeared the chores had been done or not? Were the chickens locked up? In all the commotion of the fire, who knows if anone would have even noticed.

Teresa Larson
06-15-2008, 01:50 AM
#155 was posted by granddaughter concerning the dig.

Quote...Mom remains convinced that the excavation done by Oscar Hunter, MD, was thorough and conclusive. He was an impressive man and a national leader in pathology. Anyone who would return to the site now would have no greater credentials than he did. Photos of the excavation are posted on the Sodder children website. http://www.sodderchildren.com (http://www.sodderchildren.com/).

catsy101
06-15-2008, 02:10 AM
Wait a second, I just had a thought. Birdie you made me think of it with your post. I remember reading in earlier posts that the curtains were open, the lights were on. So the mother, believing the children had gone to bed had closed them and turned off the lights, figuring the children in their excitement over the toys had forgotten to turn off the lights and close the curtains. That was a job they were supposed to do each night. So... Here's a question. let's say the door was open too. And the kids were outside of the house taking care of the chickens and other outdoor duties. If she closed and locked the door they'd be stuck outside. Um... Would they have banged on the door to be let in? or could it be a possibility that instead they went to say a neighbor's house or something, perhaps someone was still awake in a home nearby if they didn't want to wake their parents.

catsy101
06-15-2008, 02:44 AM
GUYS! Check out girl in the magazine page I think I may have found the photo finally!!! Take a look and tell me what you all think! It is a 1947 picture of girls in a ballet class and one of them I think looks a lot like Betty!!! Not good at sizing that up but want to know what you guys think!!!!

Thanks!

catsy101
06-15-2008, 03:11 AM
One more idea I was thinking of. I remember distinctly reading that there was NO christmas tree that year. That it was a sad time for the family because the oldest brother was stationed in the armed services somewhere and could not be home for christmas. I remember that Jennie said that a fire could not have started from a tree because there was no christmas tree. Did anyone notice anything missing from the shed? Welp I do know a ladder was missing and was found aways down the road by the telephone line but I am talking about an axe or something. Any possibility the kids thought if they went out and got a tree that the family would be less sad? Or did the kids want a tree? Or something of that nature?

TallCoolOne
06-15-2008, 06:54 AM
GUYS! Check out girl in the magazine page I think I may have found the photo finally!!! Take a look and tell me what you all think! It is a 1947 picture of girls in a ballet class and one of them I think looks a lot like Betty!!! Not good at sizing that up but want to know what you guys think!!!!

Thanks!Heh, heh....... me thinks you forgot the link to the picture......

birdie74
06-15-2008, 09:04 AM
Catsy, I reread an article last night that did say the lights were on, the shades were up, and the door was opened, so she drew the shades, locked the door, turned off the lights, and went back to bed.

I also wondered if they had been locked out. I doubt they would have wandered off and gotten hurt though because of all the other weird things surrounding the case. I tend to believe the inn keeper who claimed to have seen them later. I also think if bodies had been found anywhere in the region, even way down the river, that it would have been checked out. It didn't take long before the parents started suspecting there was more to the story and hired a PI.

catsy101
06-15-2008, 09:18 PM
I didn't forget it tall cool one, it is in the other forum under Sodder, the one that says "george saw a picture..." I put the link there.

birdie74
06-15-2008, 09:27 PM
I don't think this detail is too significant, but I should correct myself. I've been saying that Mr. Sodder went to Fl to search for the kids, but he had sent a PI to do it instead. I reread all the old posts this weekend, so hopefully the details will be fresher in my mind now.

I wanted to ask Granddaughter about her great-grandmother Maria Cipriani. I know she was living when her husband passed away in 1944, but I don't see her death certificate on the WV culture website. Did she move away?

Also, one old post mentioned a forum called justice quest. I don't know if that's the one that they kept talking about with lablover who was posting so much good info, but I've searched and don't think it's up anymore. Is there anyone who used to read the other forum who remembers any info listed there but not here? If so, it would be great if you would post it.

fox1950
06-15-2008, 09:50 PM
Also, one old post mentioned a forum called justice quest. I don't know if that's the one that they kept talking about with lablover who was posting so much good info, but I've searched and don't think it's up anymore. Is there anyone who used to read the other forum who remembers any info listed there but not here? If so, it would be great if you would post it.Lablover, if I am not mistaken, was on the "Hey Martha board" for the Register Herald, Beckley, WV. If my memory serves be right, he knew alot about Smithers, WV and the goings on during that time. Lablover wanted to get on Websleuths but never could. The Hey Martha board was taken down. I don't think you can read any of the old posts. There is, however, and interesting comment on Stacy Horn's blog (after she did her story). Would take some searching to find it but someone who was familiar with Smithers posted a few interesting "tales" about the town. I think Lablover was living in Arizona at the time he posted.

birdie74
06-16-2008, 12:17 AM
Thanks fox.

Teresa Larson
06-16-2008, 12:48 AM
Have you read the the download statements on the sodder children's web site? There is a one from Mary Ann the oldest daughter. The missing children were still playing when she fell asleep on the couch the night of the fire. There is also a letter from Mr Sodder and a few others. It's all worth reading.

catsy101
06-16-2008, 12:57 PM
I have that downloaded on my computer. Let me see if I can post. Not sure how to do this am not all that comp savvy like my husband is

birdie74
06-16-2008, 07:13 PM
Catsy, that does look a lot like Betty. I didn't think it did as much at first until I saw it enlarged. Then I minimized the screen some and viewed it side-by-side with the picture we know is Betty and I saw a lot of similarities.

BTW, since I only live about 4 hrs from the Cortez/Bradenton, Fl area, I'll be taking a couple of days off work soon to go down and see if I can find out anything. I'd like to try to find out what I can that might help me before I go, so I'll put a few questions out there in case anyone can answer them:

When did Frank Cipriani move to FL? (I just know it was sometime between the census of April 1930 and his father's death in October 1944.)

How many kids did he have? Any dates and ages would help too. (I know he had 2 in the 1930 census, Edward, 8, and Joseph, 5. I know there's a Frank Jr too, but he might be one of the same boys who went by a middle name. He's likely to have had many more, and while I'm on my trip I'll look up any births down here, but if anyone in WV has already looked up the WV births or could, that would be great. If not, I'll do it next month when I visit WV.)

When were the children supposedly seen down there, and when did the private investigator go there?

I read one place that there were 3 people who claimed to see them there. Is there any record of who these witnesses were?

I plan to see what I can find out from the local library and courthouse. Maybe the library will have old yearbooks. Also, if I can find out what public or Catholic school they might have attended if they were there long, I'll try to see what I can find out there (if it isn't abandoned for summer). I'll see if I can find the church they attended, too.

If anyone else has ideas of where I can check, please let me know.

catsy101
06-16-2008, 08:16 PM
Thanks Fox interesting information. I think it would be great to have someone go there and check it out.

catsy101
06-16-2008, 08:23 PM
Okay on a whim I just looked up Sodder in FL in the white pages online Came up with three names and ages all in different areas in FL.

Cynthia Sodder lives in Plant City It states that she is 36 years of age but she is unlisted so no phone number

Ricky Sodder also lives in Plant City It states that he is 51 years of age but he is also unlisted so no phone number

John Sodder lives in Gulf Breeze It states that he is 72 years of age but is also unlisted No Number

Russel Sodder lives in Jacksonville it does not say an age and again unlisted so no number

These are the only sodders it shows in all of FL but might be worth a look. Could the younger ones potentially be the children of some of these children or grandchildren?

catsy101
06-16-2008, 08:27 PM
Okay on the other side of the coin, tons of cipriani's live in FL.

I'll get a list

(I think we each need to take some names and start making some phone calls, if granddaughter does not know which ones are family and which aren't. Perhaps, given it has been so long, some of them will talk to us). So let me know who can do what.

Who wants to take the first list?

Here it is:

A Cipriani (http://www.whitepages.com/search/Replay?search_id=61161392334301456579&lower=1&more_info=1&form_mode=opt_b)

home
654 Hummingbird Ln
Delray Beach, FL 33445-1882

(561) 498-8471

A Cipriani (http://www.whitepages.com/search/Replay?search_id=61161392334301456579&lower=2&more_info=1&form_mode=opt_b)

home
1501 Middle Gulf Dr
Sanibel, FL 33957-6528

(239) 395-0815
Listing Details (http://www.whitepages.com/search/Replay?search_id=61161392334301456579&lower=2&more_info=1&form_mode=opt_b)

A Cipriani (http://www.whitepages.com/search/Replay?search_id=61161392334301456579&lower=3&more_info=1&form_mode=opt_b)

home
1501 Middle Gulf Dr
Sanibel, FL 33957-6528

(239) 395-0815
Listing Details (http://www.whitepages.com/search/Replay?search_id=61161392334301456579&lower=3&more_info=1&form_mode=opt_b)

Adolph Cipriani (http://www.whitepages.com/search/Replay?search_id=61161392334301456579&lower=4&more_info=1&form_mode=opt_b)

home
8300 Southwind Bay Cir
Fort Myers, FL 33908-6028

(239) 454-5430
Listing Details (http://www.whitepages.com/search/Replay?search_id=61161392334301456579&lower=4&more_info=1&form_mode=opt_b)

Andrea Cipriani (http://www.whitepages.com/search/Replay?search_id=61161392334301456579&lower=5&more_info=1&form_mode=opt_b)

home
8515 Bent Creek Way
Naples, FL 34114-9423

(239) 774-2248
Listing Details (http://www.whitepages.com/search/Replay?search_id=61161392334301456579&lower=5&more_info=1&form_mode=opt_b)

Ann Cipriani (http://www.whitepages.com/search/Replay?search_id=61161392334301456579&lower=6&more_info=1&form_mode=opt_b)

work
5 Harvard Cir
West Palm Bch, FL 33409-1979

(561) 683-3313
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Ann D Cipriani (http://www.whitepages.com/search/Replay?search_id=61161392334301456579&lower=7&more_info=1&form_mode=opt_b)

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5 Harvard Cir
West Palm Beach, FL 33409-1979

(561) 683-3313
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Anthony J Jr & Jacqueline A Cipriani (http://www.whitepages.com/search/Replay?search_id=61161392334301456579&lower=8&more_info=1&form_mode=opt_b)

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723 Espanola Way
Melbourne, FL 32901-4101

(321) 951-4854
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Anthony Cipriani (http://www.whitepages.com/search/Replay?search_id=61161392334301456579&lower=9&more_info=1&form_mode=opt_b)

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14510 Black Lake Rd
Odessa, FL 33556-3662

(813) 920-8725
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catsy101
06-16-2008, 08:31 PM
List 2 who can take it? BTW anyone without a phone number should be sent a letter with a number they can reach one of us at.

Antonio Cipriani (http://www.whitepages.com/search/Replay?search_id=61161392334301456579&lower=10&more_info=1&form_mode=opt_b)

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22100 SW 194th Ave
Miami, FL 33170-1212

(305) 242-9300
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Antonio Cipriani (http://www.whitepages.com/search/Replay?search_id=61161392334301456579&lower=11&more_info=1&form_mode=opt_b)

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PO Box 0862
Miami, FL 33152-0862

phone number unavailable
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Bruno & Mae Cipriani (http://www.whitepages.com/search/Replay?search_id=61161392334301456579&lower=12&more_info=1&form_mode=opt_b)

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8703 N Packwood Ave
Tampa, FL 33604-1033

(813) 932-0257
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Carlo R Cipriani (http://www.whitepages.com/search/Replay?search_id=61161392334301456579&lower=13&more_info=1&form_mode=opt_b)

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16258 SW 44th Ln
Miami, FL 33185-3857

(305) 228-6477
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Carmela I & Joseph T Cipriani (http://www.whitepages.com/search/Replay?search_id=61161392334301456579&lower=14&more_info=1&form_mode=opt_b)

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9064 Thunderbird Dr
Coral Springs, FL 33065-4323

(954) 344-3959
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Cecilia Cipriani (http://www.whitepages.com/search/Replay?search_id=61161392334301456579&lower=15&more_info=1&form_mode=opt_b)

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10423 Old Cutler Rd, Apt 205
Cutler Bay, FL 33190-1724

(305) 238-2761
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Charles Cipriani (http://www.whitepages.com/search/Replay?search_id=61161392334301456579&lower=16&more_info=1&form_mode=opt_b)

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11135 Quality Dr
Spring Hill, FL 34609-9605

(352) 797-7085
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Choylan & Gabriel A Cipriani (http://www.whitepages.com/search/Replay?search_id=61161392334301456579&lower=17&more_info=1&form_mode=opt_b)

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15670 SW 100th Ave, Apt 10
Miami, FL 33157-1617

(305) 252-8436
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Choylan & Kesa Cipriani (http://www.whitepages.com/search/Replay?search_id=61161392334301456579&lower=18&more_info=1&form_mode=opt_b)

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15670 SW 100th Ave
Miami, FL 33157-1617

(305) 252-8436
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Christian Cipriani (http://www.whitepages.com/search/Replay?search_id=61161392334301456579&lower=19&more_info=1&form_mode=opt_b)

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PO Box 0566
Miami, FL 33137-0566

(305) 756-6200
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Christian A Cipriani (http://www.whitepages.com/search/Replay?search_id=61161392334301456579&lower=20&more_info=1&form_mode=opt_b)

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500 NE 26th St, Apt 5D
Miami, FL 33137-5202

phone number unavailable
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Christian J & Lenore M Cipriani (http://www.whitepages.com/search/Replay?search_id=61161392334301456579&lower=21&more_info=1&form_mode=opt_b)

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1020 Blackwater Dr
Wesley Chapel, FL 33543-3950

phone number unavailable
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Cinzia Cipriani (http://www.whitepages.com/search/Replay?search_id=61161392334301456579&lower=22&more_info=1&form_mode=opt_b)

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9149 Collins Ave, Apt 208
Surfside, FL 33154-3154

phone number unavailable
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catsy101
06-16-2008, 08:35 PM
List 3



Donna C Cipriani (http://www.whitepages.com/search/Replay?search_id=61161392334301456579&lower=35&more_info=1&form_mode=opt_b)

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315 Timberwood Ct
Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33418-3596

phone number unavailable
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716 Jamestown Blvd
Altamonte Springs, FL 32714-4656

(407) 682-8758
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Daniel J Jr Cipriani (http://www.whitepages.com/search/Replay?search_id=61161392334301456579&lower=24&more_info=1&form_mode=opt_b)

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2144 SE Harlow St
Port Saint Lucie, FL 34952-4990

(772) 337-4783
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Daniel J Cipriani (http://www.whitepages.com/search/Replay?search_id=61161392334301456579&lower=25&more_info=1&form_mode=opt_b)

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3521 SW Dellamano St
Port Saint Lucie, FL 34953-5240

phone number unavailable
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Danielle Cipriani (http://www.whitepages.com/search/Replay?search_id=61161392334301456579&lower=26&more_info=1&form_mode=opt_b)

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200 S Parker St
Tampa, FL 33606-2308

(813) 221-5788
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David M Cipriani (http://www.whitepages.com/search/Replay?search_id=61161392334301456579&lower=27&more_info=1&form_mode=opt_b)

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234 SW Ridgecrest Dr
Port Saint Lucie, FL 34953-5915

(772) 785-5495
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David & Rachael G Cipriani (http://www.whitepages.com/search/Replay?search_id=61161392334301456579&lower=28&more_info=1&form_mode=opt_b)

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3724 Bellewater Blvd
Riverview, FL 33578-3109

phone number unavailable
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David Cipriani (http://www.whitepages.com/search/Replay?search_id=61161392334301456579&lower=29&more_info=1&form_mode=opt_b)

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103 13th Ave, Apt 12
St Pete Beach, FL 33706-4257

phone number unavailable
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Deanna L & Frank P III Cipriani (http://www.whitepages.com/search/Replay?search_id=61161392334301456579&lower=30&more_info=1&form_mode=opt_b)

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2806 18th St W
Bradenton, FL 34205-6344

phone number unavailable
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Diana Cipriani (http://www.whitepages.com/search/Replay?search_id=61161392334301456579&lower=31&more_info=1&form_mode=opt_b)

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3900 Biscayne Blvd
Miami, FL 33137-3721

(305) 325-2370
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Diana M Cipriani (http://www.whitepages.com/search/Replay?search_id=61161392334301456579&lower=32&more_info=1&form_mode=opt_b)

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268 Egret Way
Weston, FL 33327-1105

(954) 349-4990
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Dominic Cipriani (http://www.whitepages.com/search/Replay?search_id=61161392334301456579&lower=33&more_info=1&form_mode=opt_b)

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5440 N Ocean Dr
West Palm Bch, FL 33404-2528

(561) 881-7389
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Dominic Cipriani (http://www.whitepages.com/search/Replay?search_id=61161392334301456579&lower=34&more_info=1&form_mode=opt_b)

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5440 N Ocean Dr, Ph 301
West Palm Beach, FL 33404-2530

(561) 881-7389
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Donna Cipriani (http://www.whitepages.com/search/Replay?search_id=61161392334301456579&lower=36&more_info=1&form_mode=opt_b)

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5344 Woodland Lakes Dr, Apt 224
Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33418-3958

phone number unavailable
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Ellen R Cipriani (http://www.whitepages.com/search/Replay?search_id=61161392334301456579&lower=38&more_info=1&form_mode=opt_b)

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11615 Pure Pebble Dr
Riverview, FL 33569-9007

phone number unavailable
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Evelin C Cipriani (http://www.whitepages.com/search/Replay?search_id=61161392334301456579&lower=39&more_info=1&form_mode=opt_b)

home
4370 NW 107th Ave, Apt 107-4
Doral, FL 33178-1879

phone number unavailable
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catsy101
06-16-2008, 08:40 PM
List 4

Fay M Cipriani (http://www.whitepages.com/search/Replay?search_id=61161392334301456579&lower=40&more_info=1&form_mode=opt_b)

home
13811 Willow Bridge Dr
North Fort Myers, FL 33903-7217

(239) 995-0975
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Frank G Cipriani (http://www.whitepages.com/search/Replay?search_id=61161331668702249303&lower=42&more_info=1&form_mode=opt_b)

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7900 SW 102nd Pl
Miami, FL 33173-3962

(305) 412-4000
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Frank Cipriani (http://www.whitepages.com/search/Replay?search_id=61161331668702249303&lower=43&more_info=1&form_mode=opt_b)

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307 Winfield Way
Nokomis, FL 34275-1978

phone number unavailable
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Frank P Jr & Joanne A Cipriani (http://www.whitepages.com/search/Replay?search_id=61161331668702249303&lower=44&more_info=1&form_mode=opt_b)

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3135 37th St E
Palmetto, FL 34221-8806

(941) 722-6099
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Frank Cipriani (http://www.whitepages.com/search/Replay?search_id=61161331668702249303&lower=45&more_info=1&form_mode=opt_b)

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39650 Us Highway 19 N
Tarpon Springs, FL 34689-7902

(727) 939-3355
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Giovanna Cipriani (http://www.whitepages.com/search/Replay?search_id=61161331668702249303&lower=46&more_info=1&form_mode=opt_b)

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3201 Collins Ave
Miami Beach, FL 33140-4023

(305) 535-3009
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Giovanni G & Johanna L Cipriani (http://www.whitepages.com/search/Replay?search_id=61161331668702249303&lower=47&more_info=1&form_mode=opt_b)

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1167 NW 128th Ct
Miami, FL 33182-2504

(305) 553-9687
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Giuseppe Cipriani (http://www.whitepages.com/search/Replay?search_id=61161331668702249303&lower=49&more_info=1&form_mode=opt_b)

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3201 Collins Ave
Miami Beach, FL 33140-4023

(305) 535-3009
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Jennifer Cipriani (http://www.whitepages.com/search/Replay?search_id=61161331668702249303&lower=51&more_info=1&form_mode=opt_b)

work
PO Box 5940
Pinecrest, FL 33256-5940

(904) 247-4993
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Jennifer M Cipriani (http://www.whitepages.com/search/Replay?search_id=61161331668702249303&lower=53&more_info=1&form_mode=opt_b)

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PO Box 6411
Sarasota, FL 34230-6411

phone number unavailable
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Joe Cipriani (http://www.whitepages.com/search/Replay?search_id=61161331668702249303&lower=57&more_info=1&form_mode=opt_b)

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605 Suwannee St
Tallahassee, FL 32399-3601

(850) 414-5203
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catsy101
06-16-2008, 08:44 PM
List 5

John L & Bonnie M Cipriani (http://www.whitepages.com/search/Replay?search_id=61161331668702249303&lower=58&more_info=1&form_mode=opt_b)

home
1 Seminole Dr
Saint Augustine, FL 32084-1224

(904) 823-8624
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Leonardo Cipriani (http://www.whitepages.com/search/Replay?search_id=61161331668702249303&lower=68&more_info=1&form_mode=opt_b)

work
998 Bluewood Ter
Weston, FL 33327-2050

(954) 384-1076
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Joseph Cipriani (http://www.whitepages.com/search/Replay?search_id=61161331668702249303&lower=60&more_info=1&form_mode=opt_b)

home
1710 NW Second Ave
Gainesville, FL 32603-2829

(352) 376-0139
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Joseph Cipriani (http://www.whitepages.com/search/Replay?search_id=61161331668702249303&lower=61&more_info=1&form_mode=opt_b)

home
10010 Skinner Lake Dr
Jacksonville, FL 32246-8408

phone number unavailable
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Judith A & Charles F Cipriani (http://www.whitepages.com/search/Replay?search_id=61161331668702249303&lower=65&more_info=1&form_mode=opt_b)

home
15276 Alba Dr
Brooksville, FL 34604-0729

(352) 796-4349
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Lia M Cipriani (http://www.whitepages.com/search/Replay?search_id=61161331668702249303&lower=70&more_info=1&form_mode=opt_b)

home
182 N Sunset Dr
Mount Dora, FL 32757-5409

phone number unavailable
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Lorraine Cipriani (http://www.whitepages.com/search/Replay?search_id=61161331668702249303&lower=74&more_info=1&form_mode=opt_b)

work
130 NW 108th Ter
Pembroke Pines, FL 33026-4075

(954) 442-0012
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Teresa Larson
06-16-2008, 08:48 PM
I would ask Granddaughter about this before starting to make all the phone calls surely her mother knows who her relatives are.

birdie74
06-16-2008, 09:02 PM
Thank you Fox and Catsy for looking all of that up! BTW, I think it's kind of funny that we're a fox, cat, and bird. I hope nobody's hungry because I would be at the bottom of that food chain!

The people finder idea helped a lot and some other googling led me to a list of Frank Sr. and Louise's heirs, so that gives me a good idea of who the kids were.

I mainly want to know who they are so that if I find anything that indicates other kids lived with them, I can narrow it down. I also figure if I can find his biological kids in yearbooks or something, I might be able to find the Sodders among other kids there, most likely with different names.

It looks like Edward and Frank Jr. still live there. I know someone needs to question them about they know know of their cousins, but I don't want to do it myself just yet. I know they're probably nice guys, and even if their family was involved, they likely were told the same story as the Sodder kids, but I don't want to take any chances just yet. Maybe by some miracle I'll come across some evidence that proves they were there, and if I do I'll take it to law enforcement and let them ask the questions. After all, a lot of people have been afraid to talk for many years, and we still don't know if the family has mafia connections. I'd rather talk to people who knew the family (like schoolmates) before I talk to the family themselves. If I find nothing useful, I'll probably go back on a later trip and talk directly to family members if I can. Maybe I'm paranoid, but I am a young lady who will be traveling there alone.

catsy101
06-16-2008, 09:11 PM
No your not paranoid. You never know. They could be the nicest people in the world or they could turn out the be the exact opposite and may not like it if you bring the kids up. I would be worried too. It's too bad you don't have a friend willing to go with you who loves mysteries.

And your probably right teresa. But there is one thing I would be concerned about and that's if the family got angry with each other because of the accusations, there's a possibility that they just stopped talking and maybe she doesn't know who is who in that part of the family. She would only know Frank and his wife and kids, but she may not know their kids or their kid's kids.

Anyone know, was there bad blood after George went to florida? Or did the Cipriani's understand because of how tragic everything was?

catsy101
06-16-2008, 09:12 PM
And don't worry. This cat doesn't chase birds. Just hope the fox feels the same about the cat in this forum. LOL

birdie74
06-16-2008, 09:47 PM
Fox, I had downloaded and read the detective mag articles a few months ago. Now I can't find the link. Do you know which posted message has it?

birdie74
06-16-2008, 10:13 PM
Actually, I did read the Inside Detective article again over the weekend, but it just says several people claimed to have seen the kids down here so the detective went. I'm pretty sure I read the one you're talking about back in November though, because I felt sure Mr. Sodder had gone there himself. After I didn't find that detail over the last few days though, I figured I must have gotten mixed up in my mind.

birdie74
06-16-2008, 10:25 PM
Fox, your post disappeared, too. Is there maybe a problem because of copyrights or something, so maybe the links and quotes from the other magazine had to be removed?

catsy101
06-17-2008, 12:29 AM
Okay guys my husband worked on this so let me send it to you. Hold on a sec.

catsy101
06-17-2008, 12:36 AM
Just so you know, am unsure as to whether or not they are the same girl. Seem similar but one issue I have that my husband pointed out is one girl, the ballet student, seems to have a turned up nose with bigger nostrils than the Betty photo, also he pointed out that the ballet girl seems to have a chin cleft (or he said it may be just a shadow) while the other girl, Betty, seems to have a more smooth chin in her photo. What do you guys think? They still seem so similar. And the year is right.

catsy101
06-17-2008, 12:38 AM
Everyone what do you think?

birdie74
06-17-2008, 06:46 AM
Catsy, it's hard to say about the nose and chin since the angle is so different. Nostrils usually seem more flared when we hold our heads high instead of looking down. I think it's possible.

Also, that's a good idea about taking a friend with me. I've been hesitant to tell friends about this because I think they'd think I'm crazy for getting so involved, but who knows. Maybe one of them would enjoy too, so I'll ask.

catsy101
06-17-2008, 12:44 PM
Birdie want you to be careful when you go, even if you do have a friend with you. Make sure you tell all your family you are leaving on this trip and ensure they know the day and time you are to return. Odds are this family is very nice and even if they DID have something to do with the children, they might either tell you they can't or won't talk about it or be willing to talk. Or, on the other side of the coin, all I can think about is Robin Williams saying "Donner party of four". So just be careful. You never know. And if your friend comes with you, make sure your friend comes with you to meet that family, and a suggestion here is to call the family first, test the waters, talk to them and than ask them to meet you somewhere public. A local McDonalds or something, during a time when few people will be there, like early morning or later evening. So you can still talk fairly privatly but you are still in a public place where you are safer and you have your friend with you, two is safer than one.

catsy101
06-17-2008, 12:46 PM
One more suggestion, "Pepper Spray". You can never be too careful.

birdie74
06-18-2008, 12:06 AM
Catsy, thank you for the concern and advice. I really will be careful and won't take chances. I won't be contacting the family on this trip and I probably won't be talking to too many people about it unless I happen to meet them. I will mainly just be checking records to find out more about the family and looking for things like yearbooks and other things that may have pictures from the area from the '40s and '50s. It's likely I won't find too much right now, but if I can learn more about them, maybe I'll do more later. I'll just take it one step at a time so I don't get over my head.

I checked the Manatee Co. Library catalog online, but they don't have any school yearbooks listed.

catsy101
06-18-2008, 04:34 PM
Well all I can think is that if she was sent to Italy to be with family, they probably just would have treated her like any other kid. If she was sent for ballet lessons, perhaps the entire ballet class was asked to do the movie. I dunno. It IS a very long shot, but geeze, she looks a LOT like the children, she looks a LOT like Betty, and the two photos side by side look really close. I just dunno it's such a weird case and I know the photo of the supposed Betty has to be out there somewhere it couldn't have just been destroyed and every copy gone. And it is soooooooooooo weird that it wasn't in the magazine that George said it was in. I am beginning to wonder something else too... Hold on let me check on my soup than I will post a scenario.

catsy101
06-18-2008, 04:35 PM
So we know that there were five children who went missing. Their ages ranged from 14 all the way down to 5. Would everyone on here agree that if someone tried to take them from the home there would have been some sort of commotion? I think there would have been. I talked to my grandma and she said that a boy was 14 was almost considered a man at the time, and she said the oldest would have fought even if there was a gun and smaller siblings involved. Back than a boy of that age would not have just gone quietly. She also said the smaller siblings would have been harder to control. The 5 year old would not go quietly even if she saw a gun because she wouldn't completely understand, and the kids would have been screaming and crying and making all kinds of noise. Grandma said that the oldest daughter on the couch would have probably heard the commotion and awakened. But there was no commotion. I also asked her about the woman who was going around stealing children to sell on the black market. And grandma told me that it would be very difficult for a woman to take on 5 children of those ages. Plus, she said, the older children, Maurice and Martha Lee would have run away from their new homes the first chance they got to get back home. Which makes sense.
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catsy101
06-18-2008, 04:36 PM
So what does this leave us? With two possibilities, the children left on their own, potentially starting the fire to make it look as though they died in the fire or for some other unknown reason, or it was just bad luck, that the same night the children run off the house catches fire, or that the children did die in the fire and by some freak of nature nothing is left to be found. My grandma told me, and she was born in 1931, that she had seen fires in her youth. If someone died in a burning building she told me there WAS the smell of burning bodies, even in situations where it was only one person who burned up and they lived in a big house. She has also stated that the fire department never would have tried to spare the families and hide the body, that they were actually MORE blunt than today when it came to identifying bodies. She also told me that she has never in all her years of living heard of a fire where something wasn't left. Bone fragments, teeth, SOMETHING. So she told me she didn't buy that not for one bit.

catsy101
06-18-2008, 04:40 PM
So she said her conclusions would be that either A. The kids left of their own free will, or B. The kids were tricked into going somewhere with someone or C. The kids went with someone because they knew the person

She said that if the kids were tricked into going somewhere, IE Going to a neighbor's home for say a Christmas party or something that odds are with 5 of them one of them would have escaped and gotten to someone to get help. So she said it didn't make sense. It is difficult also, to get one child to agree to go someplace with you, harder still to get two children to go with you, even harder to get 3 kids to go with you. She also said Maurice, being 14 would probably have stood up to his siblings and said, "No that's a BAD idea we aren't going, and the younger kids would have listened to him. Because that's the way kids were raised back than.

catsy101
06-18-2008, 04:44 PM
So that leaves us with two more options. And those options are the kids left of their own free will or the kids went with someone because they knew them.

So if the kids went with someone because they knew them, IE family members or something, the question becomes why? Why would they go with them? She told me that odds are, if say their mother's brother had shown up, Maurice probably still would have thrown a fuss that would have been heard inside the home. Because he would have been the responsible adult and would have most likely insisted they all go into the house and tell the parents where they were headed. If the house was on fire at the time the brother showed up, grandma said that Maurice probably still wouldn't have left. He most likely would have insisted on insuring the parents got out safetly and would have asked the brother to help them.

catsy101
06-18-2008, 04:45 PM
Very unlikely he would have allowed the house to burn to the ground without anyone making sure the other siblings and parents got out of the home.

catsy101
06-18-2008, 04:47 PM
I asked grandma about an accident. She told me unless the kids were very stupid ALL of them would not have fallen into a well. She said it was possible for one or even two children to fall down a well. She said that it was not very possible or likely for more than two of them to fall down a well. I asked about a stream and she was quick to tell me that again, one or two could have fallen down a well. But not three or four. She said that even in rural West Virginia in the 1940's there would have been a house nearby and one of the children at least would have run there to try and get help for the children who did fall in a well or fall in a fast moving stream or creek. And if a creek was frozen solid and a child or two fell in, the rest would have gone back and tried to get help. So an accident is out.

catsy101
06-18-2008, 04:53 PM
So what do we have left?

She said it is possible for jealousy to come into play. If the parents had canceled Christmas, IE - No tree etc because the oldest brother couldn't come home the result could be some unhappy and potentially angry children who were thinking, "They love our older brother more than us because they canceled Christmas for him". But she said even if this were the case, she didn't think they would be willing to leave forever just because of that. So why would they leave forever? She said if they got angry and started doing something stupid and accidentally set the house on fire, they could very well get scared and run off. If you set your house on fire would you want to be there when your parents found out? Probably not. She also told me it would be easy for Maurice to lie and say "I'm 18 and our parents died in a car accident and I am 18 so therefore I can legally take care of my siblings." She told me children as young as 14 could easily get hired for a job, and told me if Maurice and Martha Lee both lied about their ages they could get jobs and work to care for their siblings. She also let me know that it was very easy to get a different name by looking through newspapers and finding death notices for people around the same age as you, walk into the local records office, and request that person's birth certificate, saying you were that person. She said they pretty much trusted you on your word, and would hand it on over.

catsy101
06-18-2008, 04:55 PM
So why would they do that, if it wasn't over anger and jealousy over their older brother? Welp she gave me several scenarios as to why the children could have done this, and some of it will not be easy to hear. Granddaughter, if you read this I mean no harm, these are simply scenarios and we have no proof of them. Please take them with a grain of salt and please do not get angry or upset with me. In order to properly look through this case we need to look at every single scenario which could come into play.

catsy101
06-18-2008, 05:04 PM
Wonderful and amazing grandparents does not neccessarily mean wonderful and amazing parents.

--- If and please don't get angry I have no proof---
If... The parent's were not so great parents, in the 1940's nobody aired dirty laundry in public. This means no one told people about their problems in the 1940's. If George or one of the older brothers were hurting the girls or the boys or both could they have left due to that? The youngest child to disappear was Betty and we all know Betty was 5 years old. What if someone in the home was doing something to Martha Lee, and than had moved on to Jennie, and one day Betty turned up and said, "So and so touched me here." ? If this happened I am sure that Martha Lee and Jennie would have done anything to prevent it from happening to their little sister as well. And perhaps both Maurice and Louis decided to help them escape. Or they may have been abused as well. My grandma remembered a story about a man who had lived down the block from her when she was only ten. One of her best friends was that man's daughter. He had six children and his wife living with him. She remembered the day when the man's mother took the children with her for good because the daughter had turned up pregnant. Much later she found out that the kids had been raped by the father, and the daughter had turned up pregnant by her own dad. Sick sad but true. She told me the family had seemed totally normal, happy kids, happy wife, happy husband. But that was only through outsiders. Grandma also told me that a lot of times when a person ages, he or she changes and may not do the same things to his grandchildren.

catsy101
06-18-2008, 05:08 PM
Okay not that we bite the bullet and look at the worst case let's take er down a notch.

Money troubles--- Grandma said that if the parents were worried about money and even if they talked about it when the kids were out of the room, they could have overheard the discussions. The kids could have believed that by setting the house on fire, calling the parents to ensure they were awake, (which could have been done according to my grandma with a LADDER and something to tap into the phone line, (easily done at the time), their parents could have gotten their home insurance money and been rich. Also, by subtracting 5 children from the mix, the parents would have been much better off financially.

catsy101
06-18-2008, 05:15 PM
Or it could have been some sort of game gone wrong. Let's say the kids recieved war toys from the five and dime for christmas. Let's just take that scenario. In fact let's take this up a notch. Grandma said that granaids were used back than, not a pineapple. But she said a granaid looked very similar to a pineapple. Now let's say the daughter, Marian or Marion or how do you spell her name? Anyway if she bought home what she believed was a TOY granaid but it was actually a real granaid and it was thrown and hit the roof, and began a fire and the kids were terrified of their parents finding out what happened... So one of them grabs a ladder and runs to the phone line to make the call to wake up the parents. I am thinking Maurice would have done this he taps into the phone line, disguises his voice to sound like a girl, asks for someone, just to make sure the parents are awake. THan he and the other kids run for the hills figuring they are in trouble. Grandma said they probably would have to go to a new state so no one knew or recognized them. She said back than the cops would have come to the house and Maurice and the others would have been in it deep. So they would know that and be terrified to go home. They could have talked their way onto a bus or a train or something to get out of there as quickly as humanly possible. Grandma said if they showed up at a bus or train station someone probably would have shown pity on them. Picture it Christmas eve they say our parents just died in a car accident/our parents died of an illness or etc, than say We have family who is going to take us in but we need to get to this place, odds are someone would have allowed them to get on the train to get there. Or the bus or whatever.

catsy101
06-18-2008, 06:02 PM
This would explain why the kids never showed back up. The kids would never show up if they set the home on fire. They would be too scared. I also asked my grandmother wouldn't they tell their children or grandchildren about what happened? She told me absolutly not! Why? Welp, do people who try drugs tell their kids they did it when they were young? Usually not. Do parents who skipped school to hang out with friends at the beach tell their kids about it? Nope. Would a child who set his house on fire and burned it to the ground tell his or her kids about it? Probably not.

catsy101
06-18-2008, 06:03 PM
She said our only hope is that one or more than one of these kids are still alive, and somehow we can track them down through photographs or something and she also said we need to hope that any survivors do NOT have altizmers or something.

birdie74
06-18-2008, 08:03 PM
None of these scenarios seem to fit to me. All accounts of the family are that they were loving and happy. No family is perfect, and I know people tend to hide their dirty laundry, but it doesn't seem that way to me when I hear quotes from Sylvia and see the way the parents reacted. I don't believe they would have run away. I don't think they would have been that upset about about Christmas since they had just gotten presents. If that pineapple-like device had been a Christmas gift, the parents and Marion would have known it.

I don't know how big their property was, but if they had cows and chickens, it was probably pretty big and the kids were likely pretty far from the house for a while.

I also don't think kids would necessarily have fought a kidnapper. Whether kids or adults, people have different reactions in different situations, and nobody knows how they will react until in that situation. I think kids were probably even more likely to submit back then when authority was more respected. It's also hard to say how they would react after the fact. I know it's hard to imagine someone staying, but look at the Smart and Hornbeck cases, and we don't know what they were told, like something had happened to the rest of their family.

I can't imagine it being an accident or a runaway situation. When you look at how weird the adults acted in this case (except the parents) I can't imagine it was all a coincidence. There's Janutolo, Fire Chief Morris, the priest, the guy who cut the phone lines and stole the block and tackle, the comments by the prosecutor about having to eat with the ones involved, some indications the Ciprianis could be involved, all the witnesses who are too afraid to talk, possible sightings of them with adults. Could all of this stuff be involved, then it turn out the kids had started the fire and left on their own? I just can't buy it.

catsy101
06-18-2008, 08:48 PM
But if the kids were still alive they would probably have come forward by now.

catsy101
06-18-2008, 08:49 PM
It's been a long time. A very long time.

catsy101
06-18-2008, 09:06 PM
I hope I am wrong. I do. But I just don't know. And if the kids set the fire accidentally, say they even Found the gradnade when they were out doing the chores and two of the kids start fighting over it and one throws it and it lands on the roof, or something of that nature they would be scared enough to run off and not to go back. The police would have come and the kids would have been in very deep trouble, even if it were an accident. In the 1940's even the best parents in the world were stricter than the parents of today, and the kids may have feared their parents hating them or something for setting the fire and burning the house to the ground. And had the kids left and run off, once they started running going back would be even more scary. Kind of like lying. Once you start lying, stopping gets harder and harder.

So say the kids run away from home that night because they are afraid of going to jail for burning the house to the ground, than they are gone, and their parents at first think they are dead. Now they feel like wow, we can't go back because they think we are dead.

Than they hop on a bus and end up in another state. Now they really can't go back, because it's too far away. Say Maurice lies about his age and gets a job now he has responsibilities and can't go back. And Martha gets a job and she has responsibilities. Each excuse leads to another, the kids are in school and doing well, so we can't go back. We are renting a house and we can't go back.

I'll tell you what, I was born in 1978. I am an only child. My dad was definitly no where near as strict as the parents in 1945. But had I accidentally burned down our home, and nearly, (at least in my mind), killed my parents who were in there, I would head for the hills and I would NEVER go back. Because I would be terrified at what my dad's reaction would have been.

birdie74
06-18-2008, 10:24 PM
I see your point. I just don't think so many other things would have happened. There is proof a criminal was on their property that night and both cut the phone lines and stole their property. What he stole was used for removing car engines, the same night neither truck would start. I just think the adults were too guilty to put this on the kids.

I figure if the kids survived, they were probably given new identities and afraid to come back, then settled into new lives. I agree it's strange they never did after 62 years and it's a stretch, but to me it's less of a stretch than anything else I can imagine.

Teresa Larson
06-19-2008, 12:30 AM
If the kids did some how set the house on fire they might have been scared but they wouldn't have run away. Those kids could have been told anything to keep them from trying to go back home. I also highly doubt they would have rebelled against any adult at least not back then. Children were taught to respect their elders. The Sodders didn't have money problems They owned a trucking company which was a lucrative business back then hauling coal. I believe Mr Sodder was a bull headed man and refused to pay his dues to the Mafia OR Mr J was the one who had the children taken and the house set on fire.

Teresa Larson
06-19-2008, 12:36 AM
Just so you know, am unsure as to whether or not they are the same girl. Seem similar but one issue I have that my husband pointed out is one girl, the ballet student, seems to have a turned up nose with bigger nostrils than the Betty photo, also he pointed out that the ballet girl seems to have a chin cleft (or he said it may be just a shadow) while the other girl, Betty, seems to have a more smooth chin in her photo. What do you guys think? They still seem so similar. And the year is right.


I do not think this picture is of Betty. For one the age would be too far off. The girl in the ballerina outfit looks to be 5 years older than Betty. The ONLY thing these 2 have in common is dark hair and eyes.

catsy101
06-19-2008, 01:47 AM
I was told later this was from a movie. But I was told the movie was not released in 1947, but in 1951 or sometime about there. A lot of the people on here say they do look a lot alike, same eyes, same face shape, etc. It IS a stretch that it is betty however given the fact that it is unlikely that someone who had Betty would ever allow her to be filmed for fear of being found out.

Something else my grandma told me, to let you guys know. She said, "In rural West Virginia, during the coal mining era, there were many cave-ins." She explained it would have been very easy for someone to take those children and kill them and put their bodies into a mine, and to cave it in. And I have another question, and I wonder where we could find this out. Anyone know if after that fateful Christmas Eve there was a cave in? It could have been the same night, the night after on Christmas day, the day after that... Just a thought. What if the kids went to play in say a coal mine that night and it caved in on them? No one would have known they went there to play if they didn't tell anyone, right?

This could be a crazy comedy of errors, just like the book. Only this was not a comedy, and more of a tragedy. And incidentally, anyone know if George had to have his trucks fixed after that night? Or was it from the cold, that they couldn't get them started up? It should be quite easy to figure it out, because either a couple of days later the trucks started up, and it was just very cold that night, OR George had to have them fixed because something had been done to them, such as a line was cut or pieces of the truck had been taken out.

catsy101
06-19-2008, 02:03 AM
So let me just um put this out there for a scenario:::

The kids are outside playing in the snow, or they are outside doing the chores as a group, either way they are all outside right? Now if we work on this timeline things could potentially have happened this way

1. Kids go outside to do something

2. Woman calls the Sodder home probably to see if it sounds like the Sodder's are asleep so she either expects a very groggy sounding person OR she expects no answer at all

3. Mrs Sodder picks up the phone and hangs up believing it to be a prank call

4. Mrs Sodder goes downstairs and sees that the children have not closed the curtains locked the door or turned off the lights so she does all three of these things before heading back to bed

5. The woman who called tells the robber to go over, Mrs Sodder sounded pretty groggy and she couldn't hear laughing or a party going on at the party (after all it was Christmas Eve)

6. The man shows up and starts to get things he wants to steal out of the shed

7. Children hear the commotion and I am guessing perhaps one or more of the younger children would have headed over first, thinking it is Santa Claus, and if they ran off before the older children could grab them the older ones would have followed

8. Not wanting to be caught and surely knowing the kids could and would identify him he perhaps takes the kids with him. He had to have someone helping him because I DO believe Maurice would not have allowed himself and his siblings to be taken without a fight. Back than children WERE taught to be respectful of adults HOWEVER I don't think these kids were stupid either. Kids got abducted back than and killed, only it happened less frequently and usually made HEADLINES back than. So maybe there's a scuffel and maybe there is more than one person stealing.

9. Perhaps at this point the criminal is scared because this has turned from being something simple, stealing, to kidnapping. So instead of making things better he makes them worse. He sets the house on fire, probably figuring everyone will believe the kids died in the fire, can't figure out what to do with the kids, and perhaps the coal mine was the easy way out. Or perhaps he decides to try and make a profit by selling the kids on the black market. Or perhaps he just takes them to New York and tosses them into the first orphanage willing to take them. And if they are/were still alive, I would have no idea as to why they never came forward or tried to get back home. I hate to say it but if it is the honest truth that George and Jennie did not have any "dirty laundry", and the kids were loved and well taken care of, the kids would have tried to get back home. Even with the threat of "We'll hurt your dad or your mom or your other siblings". So if they didn't try and the parents were loving, it may be because they were killed soon after this whole thing took place.

birdie74
06-19-2008, 07:19 AM
I mentioned the Smart and Hornbeck cases before. To me, those cases just proved that kidnapping can do some strange things to the psychology of a child, and their actions may not follow what we consider to be common sense after that. Those were two kids who were rescued by miracles, but how many other kids are still out there who were never rescued, but who also never came back voluntarily and just stayed in their traps.

Rhett
06-19-2008, 01:24 PM
We have heard of many other children who never came home on Websleuths. Many after so many years believe their families have forgotten them or don't love them.

Teresa Larson
06-19-2008, 08:41 PM
Yes I totally agree Those kids could have been told anything or even threatened. Pedophiles do it all of the time to children. They tell them not to say anything to anybody or they'd kill their parents etc. It could have been a case where they were told they died in the fire so they never bothered looking for the rest of their family. It's sad but things like this happen all of the time. Maurice might have put up a fight but if someone grabbed one of his sister's and said I will kill her if you don't come with me He would have went along to keep his sister from getting hurt.

Kiki
06-19-2008, 09:19 PM
Yes I totally agree Those kids could have been told anything or even threatened. Pedophiles do it all of the time to children. They tell them not to say anything to anybody or they'd kill their parents etc. It could have been a case where they were told they died in the fire so they never bothered looking for the rest of their family. It's sad but things like this happen all of the time. Maurice might have put up a fight but if someone grabbed one of his sister's and said I will kill her if you don't come with me He would have went along to keep his sister from getting hurt.

Wouldn't anyone who threatened them have long since died? If they were given new identities it's odd that they never tried to trace family who survived the fire or any aunts, uncles and cousins after the person who threatened them died. If they are alive I imagine some (if not all) would have married and had children maybe even grandchildren. It's strange that not one of them would have told their children about the night they lost their family. If my mother or grandmother told me something like this had happpened to them I would do some research and find out as much as I could about it. If they were given new identities I think it would be very strange that not one of them would have told their grandchildren about their past.

birdie74
06-19-2008, 10:45 PM
I still think they may have been told by extended family or whoever took them that the mob killed the rest of the family. They could have said that they killed most of them in the fire and then also shot their brother who was not back yet from the war, or something similar. They could have said that you people are out tu kill all of you now, so you have to forget the Sodder name and take on new identities. If you ever tell anyone what happened, you'll be putting the lives of everyone you love in danger.

Any descendents may have been told some other story about their past. Sometimes records are burnt or destroyed, so they could have been told that they were born in some county that had a fire or flood that had destroyed their birth records.

I definitely think they were kidnapped that night because of other strange events, but who knows what happened next. Maybe they were killed soon after that. That would explain why they never came back. It just doesn't feel that way to me though. I may be optimistic in wanting that storybook ending, but I feel like some or all of them are still out there somewhere and will be reunited with their baby sister one day. I hope and pray it's not wishful thinking.

birdie74
06-19-2008, 11:13 PM
Shadow205, a few weeks ago you said there was a possibility, and you stressed just a possibility of a new lead. I know you can't get into specifics so I won't ask for that, but I just wondered if it was still a possibility or if it turned out to be a dead end. I understand if you can't answer.

catsy101
06-20-2008, 04:05 PM
So I have been thinking about the kids dying in the fire and the more I think the more farfetched it sounds to me. If you think of the events in order it just sounds very strange.

1. Kids claim a car is following them home from school, someone watching the kids.

2. Dad gets in a fight and is told, "your house will burn, your kids will pay"

3. kids are allowed to stay up late to play with toys which doesn't sound like a common occurance at all

4. Sister who always makes sure they go to bed falls asleep on the couch instead

5. Weird phone call

6. Mom gets up and sees kids who always do their chores have not done them

7. Instead of checking on them she does the locking of the doors and the pulling of the shades and turns out the lights and goes back to bed

8. Guy goes and steals their stuff

9. Guy takes their ladder and climbs a telephone pole and cuts the line

10. Loud sound on roof wakes mom

11. Mom awakens to fire

12. Everyone except for the five children who share a room get out

13. Ladder gone and cars won't start

----- Point is if you look at it this way it is a very long list of horrible and terrible coincidences which don't truly add up. Weird things do happen in this world, but this is a little too weird for me. How about you guys?

------ I still seriously wonder about a few things.

catsy101
06-20-2008, 04:13 PM
Anyone know if these five children had a hide-out? When I was a kid for instance, there was this old shed in a vacant lot that my friends and I used to go to and play in. We even decorated it, we would look around and if we found old pillows sitting somewhere, we would put them into the shed, we would sneak some of our toys and keep them there, we put up old pictures we found on the walls, because there was an old hammer and some nails sitting in there, we made it our place. Could the children have had such a place?

And if they did, could that place have been in say an old abandoned mine that they hadn't bothered to block the entranceway to? Here is what I wonder. If the children had some brand new toys to play with that their sister had given them, and they played for a while and sis fell asleep, could they have taken a lantern or something and decided to put their toys in their secret place that very night? If there was a cave in of some sort at an abandoned mine no one would have checked it out because it just would have saved someone the trouble of going out there and blasting it closed. And of course with everyone believing these children were dead anyway, no one would have searched the woods.

I was searching old cases and there was this one about two little twin girls who got lost in the woods in 1932, in Virginia. And both of them were found like three days later. It took a lot of people searching for them, they were both found dead due to frostbite, and it was very sad. So it's just a thought. Even if they didn't have a special place so to speak, but went into the forest nearby just to play, (as these twins had done), they could have lost their way in the dark especially. And with no one looking, (it took three days and over 250 men from the town to find the two little girls in the forest), odds are they never would have been found.

birdie74
06-20-2008, 05:51 PM
I don't see anything weird about the parents letting them stay up late to play with their new Christmas toys or with their sister falling asleep on the couch after a long evening at work. I wondered myself how good the kids were about doing their chores. I don't think it's that weird that their mom didn't check on them since she would have assumed they had been in bed a while. She probably would have expected them to be in the back room and might not have wanted to risk waking everyone else upstairs to get to them. I know my mom is the type who definitely would have checked on us through the night, but times were different and people wouldn't have expected something to happen out there in a more rural area.

I still say there were a lot of weird things happened, but not by the immediate family. I know I keep repeating myself, but I still don't see how it could be an accident with the kids wandering off and getting hurt since that doesn't explain all the other suspicious events. Also, if they had a secret hideout, there's a good chance that at least one of the other five kids would know where it was.

christine2448
06-20-2008, 07:37 PM
#155 was posted by granddaughter concerning the dig.

Quote...Mom remains convinced that the excavation done by Oscar Hunter, MD, was thorough and conclusive. He was an impressive man and a national leader in pathology. Anyone who would return to the site now would have no greater credentials than he did. Photos of the excavation are posted on the Sodder children website. http://www.sodderchildren.com.


Thanks! I have been working on other threads and popped in and am happy to have this information.

birdie74
06-21-2008, 03:50 PM
I may have some good news. The 1912 school in Cortez is now a museum open to the public, and the class pictures from 1912 to 1961 are on display there. Even if the Sodder children lived there for a while, there's good chance they may not have been enrolled in school and just stayed for a while before being moved to Italy or another place, but it's worth a shot. I'll be visiting there in a couple of weeks.

birdie74
06-27-2008, 11:16 PM
LButler (now LisainWV) once posted (way back in the first forum I believe that her father worked for Janutolo and she thought that Fire Chief J F Morris was his bookkeeper. Morris went by the name Forest and I found him in the 1920 and 1930 census records. In both he's listed as a bookkeeper, and in 1930 he was a bookkeeper for a building supplies business. Some Janutolos are listed two households away, though not Fiorenza or Cleante. I'm not sure yet how they were related to the cousins.

It may not be the same building company, but I think it's likely he did work for Cleante.

birdie74
06-28-2008, 11:26 AM
OK, I found Chief Morris in the WWI and WWII draft card registrations, and his name was Forest Judson Morris, and in 1942 he worked for Janutolo and Co.

Kiki
06-28-2008, 09:56 PM
Excellent sleuthing Birdie74 and Catsy101. :clap: You're doing a terrific job in the search for these children. :blowkiss: I don't think the family did anything unusual either. In my experience the usual schedules fly out the window when there are excited children in the house at Christmastime. Adults are tired from all the preparations and children are too excited and overstimulated to sleep. The adults are usually also tired from dealing with overexcited children and its no wonder the mother just crashed. As well as caring for the children and all her normal chores she would have been exhausted from all the Christmas preparations. No one does what they normally do around Christmas.

drema
06-29-2008, 08:49 AM
OK, I found Chief Morris in the WWI and WWII draft card registrations, and his name was Forest Judson Morris, and in 1942 he worked for Janutolo and Co.
Great job!

birdie74
06-29-2008, 03:40 PM
Thanks. I'm sure this must have been a well known fact back then, but it's a shame it didn't make it into the media reports... at least not the ones I've read. It must have been so hard for Mr. and Mrs. Sodder who must have known this and known in their hearts that they had to have been involved, but just couldn't prove it.

Now that we know Morris worked for Janutolo, I really wish we could find out more about the dispute over Joseph Cipriani's estate and figure out how Janutolo is connected. I also wonder who the man was who was arrested for stealing from them that night and see if he can be connected to Janutolo, Morris, or Frank Cipriani. I know people have dug into the Fayette Co. records before, but is there anyone in WV who can try again to find out more? Joseph Cipriani died 22 Oct 1944, and I don't know how much would be available about his estate, but if any of his property was sold to Janutolo after the estate was settled, I would think there should be records of that. I don't know where arrest records from back then would be. I would think the police would have the records about the thief.

I'll be near Fayetteville in a few weeks and will at least go there to see if I can find anything, but if anyone lives nearby and can find something sooner and spend more time there, that would be even better.

birdie74
07-02-2008, 07:30 PM
I just got back from Cortez.

The school had pictures of some of the classes on display. The only one that was in the time frame I hoped for had one grade from 1946. Frank Jr. was in the class, but none that looked like the Sodder kids. There's a good chance that it was actually taken 1945 for the school year that ended in '46 though.

I talked to one gentleman who knew the family, but he was a little too young at that time to remember if they ever had relatives live with them.

Another lady has a relative who went to school with Frank Jr. and knows the family well, and she expects to see her this weekend at a family reunion, so she may know more in a few days. She hadn't heard of this case but is very interested in trying to help.

I found obits on all with that last name who passed away in the county, so that gives me a better idea of the family tree.

Also, I emailed Stacy Horn last night. She is the one who did the story on this for NPR's "All Things Considered" a couple of years ago, and she was also one of the main ones posting on the original WS thread about the case. After rereading her blog I some questions.

She said that Janutolo stood to gain financially from the fire. In what way? I know he owns a construction company, but I doubt he goes around starting fires just to drum up business in the rebuilding. There must be more to it.

Also, I read there and somewhere else that one of Mrs. Sodder's brothers claimed to have seen some remains the next morning, but didn't tell them at the time. Does anyone know which brother?

Teresa Larson
07-02-2008, 09:30 PM
I have never heard about either of these things? Where did you find this information?

birdie74
07-02-2008, 10:26 PM
If you go to stacyhorn.com, then click on her personal blog, you can put the name Sodder in search. These were in the one titled "LONG, LONG, LONG Sodder Post". I think I'd read the part about Mrs. Sodder's brother finding remains somewhere else, too. There used to be a link on WS to another detective magazine article that had a lot of info I hadn't seen elsewhere, but it was taken down for some reason. That's probably where I'd read it.

birdie74
07-07-2008, 09:31 PM
I heard back from Stacy Horn. She doesn't remember much since it's been a few years since she researched her story, so she recommended I contact George Bragg. She said at time he was planning to write a book about it, so he probably knows more of the facts.

Teresa Larson
07-08-2008, 12:41 AM
Where did Catsy disappear to???

birdie74
07-08-2008, 01:00 AM
I wondered that too, but then I noticed she'd been banned. I don't know why. I wondered where Fox went, too.

birdie74
07-09-2008, 12:22 AM
I read some detective mag articles a few months back, and I kept thinking recently that I had linked to them through WS, so the links must have been deleted. I forgot that it had actually been the sodder children website that had the articles to download. There is so much info in them!

Nocgirl
07-09-2008, 07:53 PM
Does anyone know who moderates the www.sodderchildren.com (http://www.sodderchildren.com) website and the discussion boards? The boards have nothing but pages and pages of spam and porn links.

Teresa Larson
07-10-2008, 12:39 AM
Does anyone know who moderates the www.sodderchildren.com (http://www.sodderchildren.com) website and the discussion boards? The boards have nothing but pages and pages of spam and porn links.

We need to ask the granddaughter I think her brother set up the site.

Granddaughter
07-11-2008, 07:54 AM
Thanks for the info on the discussion boards. I spoke with my brother last night, and he eliminated the forums. Neither he nor I had checked the website for a while and weren't aware of the problem.

Granddaughter
07-11-2008, 07:54 AM
Also, my dad found some papers from when my grandfather was still alive. One is a simple sketch of the house before it burned. It's not very legible, but we can make out the handwriting. I'll re-draw it over the weekend and scan both versions and post them.

christine2448
07-11-2008, 08:31 AM
Also, my dad found some papers from when my grandfather was still alive. One is a simple sketch of the house before it burned. It's not very legible, but we can make out the handwriting. I'll re-draw it over the weekend and scan both versions and post them.

Awesome!

fox1950
07-15-2008, 05:21 PM
I wondered that too, but then I noticed she'd been banned. I don't know why. I wondered where Fox went, too. Thanks for your concern. Have been on vacation for a few weeks to Georgia. You are doing good work, Birdie.

I am still reading through the threads since I last posted-To bad about Catsy-she worked hard to find answers and the board has certainly slowed down since she has been gone.

birdie74
07-15-2008, 06:39 PM
I'm so glad you're back Fox! Maybe things will pick back up now.

birdie74
07-17-2008, 07:39 AM
I emailed someone at the Fayette Co. Sheriff's office to see if he can tell me the name of the man arrested from stealing from the Sodders that night. I have no idea whether they have those records or are allowed to give out that info in emails, but it's worth a try.

birdie74
07-17-2008, 05:39 PM
I just read an article from 1949 that listed the members of the coroner's inquest jury. It was C.G. Janutolo, F.C. Shuck, J.D. Shultz, F.J. Morris, Lacy Neely, and J.T. Jennings.

We know who Janutolo and Morris are, but I'll try to find out more about the other 4.

fox1950
07-17-2008, 06:15 PM
I just read an article from 1949 that listed the members of the coroner's inquest jury. It was C.G. Janutolo, F.C. Shuck, J.D. Shultz, F.J. Morris, Lacy Neely, and J.T. Jennings.

We know who Janutolo and Morris are, but I'll try to find out more about the other 4.
I think Lacy Neely was Fayette Co. Clerk or held some office in the county at that time.

fox1950
07-17-2008, 06:18 PM
The Political Graveyard: Politicians in Mining in ... (http://search.aol.com/aol/redir?src=websearch&requestId=17df052663628f13&clickedItemRank=2&userQuery=Lacy+Neely%2C+Fayette+Co.%2C+WV&clickedItemURN=http%3A%2F%2Fpoliticalgraveyard.com %2Fgeo%2FWV%2Fmining.html&title=The+Political+Graveyard%3A+Politicians+in+Mi ning+in+%3Cb%3EWest+Virginia%3C%2Fb%3E&moduleId=matchingsites.M.xml&clickedItemPageRanking=2&clickedItemPage=1&clickedItemDescription=web)

birdie74
07-17-2008, 07:07 PM
Good work Fox.

I found a Floyd C. Shuck in Fayette Co. He was born around Sept. 1907, and in 1930 he was a bank bookkeeper. His parents were George (a coal miner) and Hattie, and his brother was Delbert. It's too bad I couldn't find him in the WWII Draft Reg. That would have said where he worked in '42.

birdie74
07-17-2008, 07:42 PM
Floyd was actually b. 05 Jul 1907 and d. Nov 1970 in Oak Hill, Fayetteville, WV.

There was a John Duval Shultz b. 08 Jan 1897 and d. Dec 1982. In 1930 he was a superintendant for coal miners' housing and living with his mother Carrie, mother-in-law Victoria Fulks, and William (a lawyer) and Mary Thompson, 2 boarders. In 1942 John worked for Fayetteville Federal Savings and Loan Assn.

birdie74
07-17-2008, 09:55 PM
There's a Jackson Theodore Jennings (coal miner) who lived in Fayetteville with his wife Gertrude and 4 kids in 1930. At first I thought it probably wasn't him because of his skin color. I doubt they would have let someone who's black on a jury like that back then... but he and his family are listed as black through the 1910 census records. His dad's name is also listed as Andrew until then. Then in 1920 they started listing his family white and his father as Charles M., so it's probably the right J.T. Jennings.

fox1950
07-17-2008, 11:19 PM
<LI style="WIDTH: 545px" about="r5">RootsWeb: WVFAYETT-L [WVFAYETT] 1963 Fayette Tribune (Articl... (http://search.aol.com/aol/redir?src=websearch&requestId=a27895ef8fa2d783&clickedItemRank=1&userQuery=C.G.+Janutolo&clickedItemURN=http%3A%2F%2Farchiver.rootsweb.ance stry.com%2Fth%2Fread%2FWVFAYETT%2F2003-03%2F1048743089&title=RootsWeb%3A+WVFAYETT-L+%5BWVFAYETT%5D+1963+Fayette+Tribune+%28Article+% 3Cb%3E...%3C%2Fb%3E&moduleId=matchingsites.M.xml&clickedItemPageRanking=1&clickedItemPage=1&clickedItemDescription=web) This well can still be seen in a small park on the road near Janutolo and Company, on the property of C. G. Janutolo. "It was also in this home where the ...
archiver.rootsweb.ancestry.com/th/read/WVFAYETT/... - 16k - Similar pages (http://search.aol.com/aol/redir?src=PTL&requestId=a27895ef8fa2d783&userQuery=C.G.+Janutolo&clickedItemURN=%2Faol%2Fsearch%3FinvocationType%3D similarPages.search%26query%3Drelated%253Aarchiver .rootsweb.ancestry.com%252Fth%252Fread%252FWVFAYET T%252F2003-03%252F1048743089%26clickedItemPageDescription%3Ds imilarPages&clickedItemDescription=similarPages)
http://archiver.rootsweb.ancestry.com/th/read/WVFAYETT/2003-03/1048743089
Catsy brought up the idea of wells. Read the 4th or 5th para down.

birdie74
07-17-2008, 11:40 PM
It would be interesting to go to the Janutolo Park and see if the well and trenches are still there.

BTW, do you know where some of the original members on this forum went? I wondered about shadowangel and Shadow205.

Sydangle2
07-18-2008, 05:16 PM
Found this interesting story about Betty Sodder & siblings what really happened to them? Everyting they knew at the time has been refuted.
& the Mystery remains alive today.

Betty Dolly Sodder
Missing since December 24, 1945 from Fayetteville, Fayette County, West Virginia
Classification: Lost, Injured, Missing
--------------------------------------------------------------------------

Vital Statistics

Date Of Birth: 1940
Age at Time of Disappearance: 5 years old
Distinguishing Characteristics: White female of Italian decent. Black/brown hair; dark eyes.

Pix of all 5 children-.... Below: mystery surrounding them.
http://www.echonyc.com/~horn/restless/000247.html
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Circumstances of their disappearence:

Sodder was last seen with her siblings and their parents, on December 24, 1945 in Fayetteville, West Virginia.
On Christmas Eve in 1945, the Sodders and nine of their ten children settled in for the evening. Betty, and four of her siblings - Jennie, Maurice, Louis and Martha Lee pleaded to be allowed to stay up and play with their new toys. Mrs. Sodder relented after the children promised to take care of their chores before coming to bed.
Shortly after midnight Mrs. Sodder was awakened by the phone ringing. A female caller asked for a man whose name Mrs. Sodder didn't recognize. The caller gave a weird laugh before hanging up. Dismissing the call as a prank, Mrs. Sodder went to return back to bed but noticed the lights were still on, the shades weren’t drawn and the doors hadn’t been locked. Believing the children forgot to do these things before going to bed, she went back to sleep. She was awakened again by a noise on the roof that sounded "like a rubber ball."
About a half-hour later, smoke began pouring into the bedroom. She yelled for her husband and children. Once outside, Mr. Sodder noticed that Betty, Jennie, Louis, Martha Lee, and Maurice were nowhere to be found. He went to grab the ladder, which was kept near the house, to reach the windows of the room where the children slept. The ladder was missing. Less than forty-five minutes after the fire started, the house was consumed.
Firefighters and state police arrived later that morning and placed the cause of the fire on faulty wiring. State police later withdrew their statement. The fire chief and state fire marshal sifted through the ashes and told the Sodders that they couldn’t find any remains. Another report states that the firefighters found a few bones and pieces of internal organs in the ashes, but the family was never told of these findings. Some time after the fire, the fire chief informed the Sodders that he had recovered a body part, probably an organ, from the ashes and buried it in a box on the site. The box was dug up and its contents taken to the funeral home for examination, while a small piece was sent elsewhere for examination. The piece sent off elsewhere was deemed to be beef liver. When the detective went back to the funeral home to find the results of their analysis on the contents he left in their care he was told that they couldn’t be located The acting coroner impaneled a jury of six local citizens who returned a verdict that the five children had died due to suffocation and flames.
Within a few months, the Sodders became convinced that their children did not die in the fire. Information began to surface to support their beliefs. An investigation revealed that the telephone line had been cut shortly before or during the fire. A late-night bus driver reported seeing "balls of fire" being tossed upon the roof of the Sodder home. An operator of a motel located halfway between Fayetteville and Charleston reported seeing the children Christmas morning. A Charleston hotel owner reported seeing four of the children in the company of four Italian speaking adults a week later. Three months after the fire, the youngest child found a hard rubber object that was hollow with a twist-off cap. It was identified by Army authorities as an incendiary or napalm bomb called a "pine-apple." It was later discovered that the fire had started on the roof. During the fire, a man was seen stealing a block and chain from the Sodder's garage. He admitted to cutting the "electric line" to the Sodder home. The ladder, which couldn't be found during the fire, was found down an embankment away from the house.
A couple of years after the tragedy, Mr. Sodder saw a photo of school children in New York and was certain that Betty was one of the children in the photograph. He drove to Manhattan to see for himself but was never allowed to see the child. Sightings of the children came in from all over the country. Every lead proved fruitless. In 1952, the Sodders purchased a billboard displaying photos of their missing children and offering a reward for the recovery of any or all of the children. The publicity fed rumors that the children had been sold to an orphanage or taken to Italy.
The Sodders tried in vain to get their case re-opened, even writing to the FBI. State police and local authorities wouldn’t reactivate the investigation without any evidence of a kidnapping or murder. The investigating fire marshal admitted years later that he did not search through the ashes as thoroughly as he would have liked. Mr. Sodder, initially believing his children had died, bulldozed the site and covered it with four to five feet of dirt, planting flowers in memory of the children.
In 1949, Mr. Sodder decided to excavate the site in order to search for human remains. The assistant chief of Naval Ordinance in Charleston and a noted pathologist from Washington, D.C. were among those helping. Four pieces of vertebrae and two small bones that could have come from a child’s hand were located. The pathologist noted that he was amazed at the scarcity of bones recovered after the thorough search, claiming it was unusual that no skulls or pelvic bones were found in a fire that was quick burning and not so intense as to destroy cloth, flooring and other debris found.
Back in Washington, D.C., the pathologist determined the bones to be human, having come from a person 14 to 15 years of age. Due to the location where the bones were found within the floor plan of the house, Mr. Sodder didn’t believe the remains to be of his 14-year-old son, Maurice. Another analysis of the bones conducted years later by the Smithsonian Institute determined that the bones came from someone 16 to 22 years of age. It was also noted that the bones bore no evidence of having been subjected to fire. A letter would arrive on a detective’s desk claiming that the bones had been removed from a nearby cemetery and planted at the scene.
Many believe the children died that night in the fire and the family was never able to accept the loss. Others believe the children were taken and are still alive somewhere, believing the fire killed their parents and siblings. Mr. Sodder died in 1969, his wife twenty years later. The billboard no longer stands. The youngest of the Sodder children keeps her parents’ quest alive to find out what really happened that night.

Kidnapped- murdered- or are they still alive??

Cubby
07-18-2008, 06:37 PM
Hi Sydangle2 & Welcome to WS.
there is a subforum in the cold case section for the Sodder family here
http://websleuths.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?f=149

Sydangle2
07-18-2008, 07:38 PM
Cool thanks :)

birdie74
07-20-2008, 12:44 PM
I just read a Charleston Gazette article from 11/01/49 that said they would probably arrest suspects in the case in the next few days. They thought the children were murdered in revenge killings.

They said they had already searched 10 to 12 area mines and would also search a huge water well that was used by a nearby sawmill.

birdie74
07-20-2008, 07:02 PM
There was also an article in the same paper 5/5/1950 that said the police had 5 suspects in the conspiracy, and Det. Troy C. Simmons thought they could get convictions. He, another detective, and George Sodders would be going a couple of days later to Havre de Grace, Md to question a man and his wife who were visiting Christmas '45.

fox1950
07-21-2008, 11:45 AM
One thing that I find interesting about the articles, is that some bones were found after Mr. Sodder had the land reopened, and along with the small amount of human bones, after examination he was determined there were also bones of animals. Seems smaller animals did not completely burn but all the Sodder children burned with the exception of a vertabre (sp). Also, the human bones were found at the opposite end of the house than where Maurice was sleeping. The floor beneath the bones was not burned. Odd. Maurice, if awakened by the fire, passed many excape routes, to get to that end of the house.

OOps-edited to say, that maybe the animals weren't in the fire but died later. But the search found these small bones so if there were more bones from the children it seems they would not have missed them.

One authority even stated that if bones from the back of a person was found the skull should have been present also.

birdie74
07-21-2008, 04:39 PM
The police theory in those articles is that the children were not burned that night, but were murdered, and that their bones never left the county. That's why they checked the mines and wells.

I know eyewitnesses are notoriously unreliable, but I tend to believe some of them who claimed to have seen the kids after the fire, so I doubt they were murdered that night. There is likely evidence though that the police knew and I don't, so I could be wrong. If they were killed that night and their bodies were disposed of, that would explain why they never came back.

I thought it was odd that the private detective George Swain quit the case so suddenly. He was quoted as saying there was no doubt the kids had been in Cortez. Apparently it was a missionary who first claimed to have seen them there, and five people all together. He followed leads for 3+ yrs. Then they did the dig and found those bones on Aug 18th, and in September he just quit. He was adamant that he and nobody in his agency would be investigating any more. Maybe he did believe it was Maurice's bones and that's why he quit, but I wondered whether someone had threatened his family if he continued to investigate.

birdie74
07-21-2008, 10:21 PM
I skimmed the Havre de Grace, Md census records from 1930 to see if any of the last names looked familiar from this case. There were a few named Morris, but I don't think they were related to Forest Morris. It's such a common name, and they weren't from WV.

There were a whole lot of Italian families there. Many were even stone masons like the Janutolos were when they came to the U.S. The only Italian name that caught my eye was Di Giovanni. I'm thinking some with that name came over with the Janutolos and Peraldos, but I'm not seeing the records right now to confirm that. It could have been a different name.

birdie74
07-22-2008, 12:11 PM
The name I was thinking of was just Giovanni, not Di Giovanni. Jon Giovanni came over on the ship with Cleante Janutolo in 1906. They were both stone masons and going to stay with Mr. Peraldo in NY. It doesn't look like he's related to the Di Giovannis in Havre de Grace.

fox1950
07-22-2008, 02:08 PM
The police theory in those articles is that the children were not burned that night, but were murdered, and that their bones never left the county. That's why they checked the mines and wells.

I know eyewitnesses are notoriously unreliable, but I tend to believe some of them who claimed to have seen the kids after the fire, so I doubt they were murdered that night. There is likely evidence though that the police knew and I don't, so I could be wrong. If they were killed that night and their bodies were disposed of, that would explain why they never came back.

I thought it was odd that the private detective George Swain quit the case so suddenly. He was quoted as saying there was no doubt the kids had been in Cortez. Apparently it was a missionary who first claimed to have seen them there, and five people all together. He followed leads for 3+ yrs. Then they did the dig and found those bones on Aug 18th, and in September he just quit. He was adamant that he and nobody in his agency would be investigating any more. Maybe he did believe it was Maurice's bones and that's why he quit, but I wondered whether someone had threatened his family if he continued to investigate.
I agree. I thought it odd also that he left the case so suddenly even though the bones were found. Have you read what ever happened about the arrests that were supposed to be made. Can't find anything except they had suspects and were going to make arrests. Seems the subject was dropped unless I missed something.

You have done a great job finding all the information in the newpapers. Seems there was of media coverage throughout the years.

birdie74
07-22-2008, 04:38 PM
I haven't found any actual arrests either. It sounds like the only arrest ever made in the case was the guy who stole from them. Maybe Maryland turned out to be a dead end and the prosecutor didn't feel there was enough evidence to charge. It seems weird though after it was printed that they were so close to arrests that nothing happened.

Back then they used to print in the paper a lot of times when people would be visiting in the area, so I'm checking that for around Christmas '45. So far nothing.

birdie74
07-22-2008, 06:17 PM
I don't know why I tried '48. I was out of it. I meant to check '45. I just did, and no answers there either.

birdie74
07-24-2008, 05:14 PM
I stopped off in Fayetteville today. I looked up records on Joseph Cipriani's estate, and I didn't get a lot of details, like what the dispute was about or how Janutolo was connected, but I do know the final settlement was 17 Oct 1949.

I met a gentleman who I believe was the County Circuit Court Clerk (though I probably got his title wrong). He was very nice and gave me as much info as he could. He's a historian, but hadn't studied this case much. He even rode down with me to show me where the fire happened. He couldn't help me with the name of the man who was arrested for stealing from the Sodders, but he referred me to some others who might have more info.

The first was a long-time resident in his mid-eighties. He's a very nice man who says he has no doubt that the children died in the fire. He said he went by the morning after the fire and saw some remains that the medical examiner found. I asked more about the remains and he said he thought it was bone or something that they believed was human. He tended to think that a private detective was just using the family for years by stringing them along for more money.

The clerk also gave me the phone # for George and Melanie Bragg, who wrote about the case in their book. This was great, because I was going to try to look them up anyway but didn't know where to start. I spoke to Mr. Bragg, and said he does have the name of the man who was arrested and a lot of other info he can dig out. He also has new pictures of the excavation he just found. I'm going to meet them next week when I'm passing back through the area.

Teresa Larson
07-25-2008, 12:52 AM
I stopped off in Fayetteville today. I looked up records on Joseph Cipriani's estate, and I didn't get a lot of details, like what the dispute was about or how Janutolo was connected, but I do know the final settlement was 17 Oct 1949.

I met a gentleman who I believe was the County Circuit Court Clerk (though I probably got his title wrong). He was very nice and gave me as much info as he could. He's a historian, but hadn't studied this case much. He even rode down with me to show me where the fire happened. He couldn't help me with the name of the man who was arrested for stealing from the Sodders, but he referred me to some others who might have more info.

The first was a long-time resident in his mid-eighties. He's a very nice man who says he has no doubt that the children died in the fire. He said he went by the morning after the fire and saw some remains that the medical examiner found. I asked more about the remains and he said he thought it was bone or something that they believed was human. He tended to think that a private detective was just using the family for years by stringing them along for more money.

The clerk also gave me the phone # for George and Melanie Bragg, who wrote about the case in their book. This was great, because I was going to try to look them up anyway but didn't know where to start. I spoke to Mr. Bragg, and said he does have the name of the man who was arrested and a lot of other info he can dig out. He also has new pictures of the excavation he just found. I'm going to meet them next week when I'm passing back through the area.

WOW Birdie That's great!! Please let us know whatever you find out. :clap:

fox1950
07-26-2008, 10:08 AM
[quote=birdie74;2414225]I stopped off in Fayetteville today. I looked up records on Joseph Cipriani's estate, and I didn't get a lot of details, like what the dispute was about or how Janutolo was connected, but I do know the final settlement was 17 Oct 1949.

I met a gentleman who I believe was the County Circuit Court Clerk (though I probably got his title wrong). He was very nice and gave me as much info as he could. He's a historian, but hadn't studied this case much. He even rode down with me to show me where the fire happened. He couldn't help me with the name of the man who was arrested for stealing from the Sodders, but he referred me to some others who might have more info.

The first was a long-time resident in his mid-eighties. He's a very nice man who says he has no doubt that the children died in the fire. He said he went by the morning after the fire and saw some remains that the medical examiner found. I asked more about the remains and he said he thought it was bone or something that they believed was human. He tended to think that a private detective was just using the family for years by stringing them along for more money.(quote)


Birdie, you are amazing. Keep up the great work.

Many rumors abounded and continue to abound about what happened that night. It is odd that this 83 year old man, who would have been twenty when the fire happened. was actually a witness to bones being found when everyone else denied they were there.

If I am remembering correctly, Mr. Sodder and John were there when they searched the ashes but did not see anything. I think later, during a hearing some of the witnesses, even a priest, recanted their story, and said they did see bones. But why were the Sodders told there were none? I tend to believe there weren't any. Why didn't the medical examiner tell the Sodders there were bones? Why did the ambulance leave without the bones if they were present? What happened to them? I hate to think the Sodders suffered all those years because they were lied to about the bones. Just my thoughts, and certainly I could be wrong. I also wonder why their was nothing found during the dug except bones that did not appear to have been exposed to fire.

The news articles are very interesting, and it seems that they was many searches of all mines, wells, etc.

I do not begin to know what happened that night. Perhaps the children did die in the fire and the Sodders just couldn't be convinced of it.

Birdie, again, you are doing an amazing job. I admire your work on this.

birdie74
07-27-2008, 12:27 AM
Thank you.

The man I met didn't seem too sure of what the remains were, so I doubt there were bones either.

birdie74
08-03-2008, 09:36 PM
I met George Bragg and he was very nice and willing to help.

There were 2 men charged with stealing the the blocks from the Sodders- Lonnie Johnson and Jeff Adkins. They owned a nearby beer establishment, so I'm guessing it's the same bar from which people came that night to see the fire. That would explain why they had a cab ready to take them with the blocks since the people came from the bar in a cab.

Adkins ran off and joined the army, so he didn't face the charges. Johnson is the one who claimed he cut the phone lines. I now agree with the ones who believe he was not part of a conspiracy and was just a thief taking advantage of the situation. If he was in a conspiracy at all, I would think it was after the fact. Those who were may have paid him to say he cut the lines to cover up what they did.

Mr. Bragg also believes the children died in the fire because of John Sodder's initial statement to the police about shaking one of them, but he is puzzled about the lack of remains.

I still don't think they died in the fire. I think it's more likely that John either lied, misspoke in his shock, or was misquoted in his first statement. I just can't get over the lack of bodies and other bizarre circumstances.

birdie74
08-03-2008, 09:43 PM
Also, the brother of Mrs. Sodder who saw remains the next morning was Jimmie Cipriani. It was most likely the beef liver- the first one that was touched with a rake by the medical examiner. I keep getting confused since there was another beef liver a couple of years later buried by Fire Chief Morris.

Frank Cipriani was apparently home in Fl that Christmas and learned of the fire by telegram. He wasn't able to make it back to WV for the funeral.

fox1950
08-04-2008, 10:39 AM
I met George Bragg and he was very nice and willing to help.


Mr. Bragg also believes the children died in the fire because of John Sodder's initial statement to the police about shaking one of them, but he is puzzled about the lack of remains.

I still don't think they died in the fire. I think it's more likely that John either lied, misspoke in his shock, or was misquoted in his first statement. I just can't get over the lack of bodies and other bizarre circumstances.
I have always wondered if John actually shook the children why he did not sit down with the parents and convince them that he actually touched the children that night. A large amount of money was spent in the effort to find the children. There was much travelling by Mr. and Mrs. Sodder to find the children. Mr. Sodder walked the floor at night and worried. Mrs. Sodder had the 1968 picture enlarged and put on her mantle. Was John the one that drove his dad in the last year of his life, lying in the back of the car because he was so ill, to look for the children?
Why not put a stop to it at the beginning before everything got so out of hand? I, too, Birdie, do not believe that John shook the children. I think because of guilt that he hadn't actually retrieved the children before coming down stairs that he said it, if he did say it. And I understand fully why he did not, he was half asleep, unable to see because of the smoke and probably scared to death. Probably his last thought would have been of the children-he was not alert at the time.

And why didn't Mrs. Sodder's brother try to convince her also of the remains he saw the next morning. This was family. Why let them suffer for the rest of their lives?

Birdie, it is great to see you back. Is George writing a book about the Sodders?

Like the old saying goes-I don't understand all I know about this.

birdie74
08-04-2008, 01:28 PM
I forgot to ask Mr. Bragg whether he was writing a book about it, but it didn't seem like he was to me. It had been a long time since he had gotten out the file. He plans to read back through his info and send me what I didn't have time to read.

The one who had driven Mr. Sodder around was his son-in-law.

fox1950
08-04-2008, 01:39 PM
Thanks for clarifying who drove Mr. Sodder around.

birdie74
08-06-2008, 11:16 PM
You would think that after hearing the opinions of a Fayetteville resident from that era and Mr. Bragg both believing that the children died in the fire that I would start leaning toward that theory myself, but I really haven't. I see their points, like about John's first statement, but I still think the evidence points the other way.

What probably kept me from being more swayed is that while on my trip, I also met Granddaughter and her parents. I didn't want to post about our visit before getting their ok. They were so gracious and we talked for a couple of hours about the case.

It reinforced to me that they are not just looking for things that support their hopes. They have examined everything, difficult or not. I don't want to speak for them, but one example is that they didn't necessarily believe the picture from the mail was Louis. They at least noticed some differences.

There are just real reasons to believe they were not in the fire. The bones were not there, and they also talked about the smell. A fireman close to them had told them about how awful the smell is for miles when a body burns. Even if the wind had blown the smell in another direction, wouldn't it have gone toward someone?

It was also so evident how loving Mr. and Mrs. Sodder were by listening to their daughter talk about them. I already believed that from Granddaughter's posts, but it really showed on their faces. It also showed in their son-in-law. He talked about how close he and his father-in-law were, and how he was the one driving him around in Texas. That's how I was able to answer Fox about it earlier.

I'm very grateful that they took the time to meet me and answer my questions. It must have been difficult to talk to a stranger about something so tragic and personal. I just really hope we can all find the answers together so they can either have closure or a reunion.

wv171
08-08-2008, 01:59 AM
"There are just real reasons to believe they were not in the fire. The bones were not there, and they also talked about the smell. A fireman close to them had told them about how awful the smell is for miles when a body burns"

Whole lot of truth in that statement..

They was saying that about this case back in 1970's in Fayette County , I personally heard firemen talking about it way back before world wide web..

Ofcourse I say it was atleast 2nd hand infromation because these firemen was too young to have been at the fire in 1945..

birdie74
08-09-2008, 12:35 AM
Thank you wv171 for your input. It's getting pretty lonely in this forum with less posting of late, so I hope you will continue to join in the conversation.

I said this about the smell to someone recently, and he said that it might not be true if there were the smell of oil or something else covering it up. Would that be possible? I have my doubts.

wv171
08-09-2008, 01:29 AM
A human body burning is the worst experance I have ever had experance as a Firefighter...

That is the first time I ever heard of anything covering up the smell of a burning human body..

But if I learn anything at all.. Is never rule nothing out, Your friend could be very well be true about that...

On this case I allway's suspected that House fire burn a lot hotter than fire's today, I have been on more than a few home fire's that was built Pre 1940's and they do burn very hot,

So Hot that it melted plastic frame of my sunglasses inside my fire coat one day, And I seen it melt multi-wire High Voltage Electric Power line into before....

Because back then they didn't add Flame Retardant to Building Lumber and other household item's, Plus I just about bet they used Coal to heat and cook with at that home and There Coal Stockpile was normally in the Basement or very close to the home.. This was normal in WV at that time period...

We burn Coal into around 1980's and I still know home's burn Coal all winter long in WV Today..

But getting so hot to cremate human bone's be a long shot, Not impossible if Coal and high wind's feeding the fire with Oxygen but it just about had to be rated as a very long shot..

Everything would had to been "Just Right" to produce a fire that hot to burn Human Bone's into ash...

This case is still talked a lot about in Fayette County WV area Today..

Teresa Larson
08-09-2008, 01:43 AM
Even if the fire did burn very hot and for a long time there would have been bone fragments left and there wasn't. I do know that kids will hide sometimes when a house is burning because they are scared but if that was the case there should have been bones in the ashes and there wasn't.

birdie74
08-09-2008, 02:40 AM
The one who suggested that maybe oil or something could have covered the smell was George Bragg, the author. The older gentleman I met who had gone to the site the next morning suggested that the Mr. Sodder might have had a huge amount of fuel of some sort stockpiled there, like coal or gas. I asked Granddaughter's mother about this and she was said she was pretty sure they had no more than normal. Most people would have had a little bit of coal, wood, gas, etc.


By the way, I plan to email the second man I just mentioned to ask if the remains he saw that day could have been the liver seen by Jimmie Cipriani and the medical examiner. I would guess it was, because I think he said it was the medical examiner who showed it to him. I just misplaced this man's email address on my trip, but I'm sure I have it somewhere.

fox1950
08-09-2008, 01:18 PM
Floyd was actually b. 05 Jul 1907 and d. Nov 1970 in Oak Hill, Fayetteville, WV.

There was a John Duval Shultz b. 08 Jan 1897 and d. Dec 1982. In 1930 he was a superintendant for coal miners' housing and living with his mother Carrie, mother-in-law Victoria Fulks, and William (a lawyer) and Mary Thompson, 2 boarders. In 1942 John worked for Fayetteville Federal Savings and Loan Assn.
According to a book I have on Fayette County History Cleante was a member of the Board of Directores of the Fayetteville Federal Savings and Loan Association and the Fayette County National Bank. He was a charter member of the WV Contractors Assoc. and charter member and president of the Fayetteville Rotary Club.

birdie74
08-09-2008, 03:29 PM
That's interesting...so Cleante Janutolo was the foreman of the 6-man jury and almost certainly would have had influence on at least two of the others.

wv171
08-17-2008, 12:00 AM
Mr. Sodder was in the trucking bussiness so it would be normal for him to have more than normal amount of oil product's around his home.. I don't know if his truck's was Diesel or Gas but they still would have more than normal amount of oil product's at his home....

I am pretty sure I read where they did a lot of maintance on his truck's at the homeplace..

I know this a little off topic, But I wish some of you could see some of the stonemason work some of these people did around these Coal Camp's... I set back and totally amazed at the craftmanship of there work... Sadly most is just getting bulldozed over at this time but there work is just I say you could call it a piece of art.. They did all this by hand tool's no power tool's or nothing... Ever get a chance check it out... It's well worth your time..

shadowangel
08-17-2008, 12:57 AM
I know this a little off topic, But I wish some of you could see some of the stonemason work some of these people did around these Coal Camp's... I set back and totally amazed at the craftmanship of there work... Sadly most is just getting bulldozed over at this time but there work is just I say you could call it a piece of art.. They did all this by hand tool's no power tool's or nothing... Ever get a chance check it out... It's well worth your time..

If you have the time, grab a camera and take some pics. Maybe set up a website or blog to preserve and share what is left. :)

birdie74
08-17-2008, 08:53 AM
I've never been to Coal's Camp, but I've seen it in Fayetteville and other areas of WV, and it is beautiful and impressive. Whenever I go to WV, my favorite buildings are always the stone ones, and I even love the stone fences.

missscarlett
08-20-2008, 09:07 PM
Birdie-
I just wanted to say that you have been doing an AMAZING job with this. I have lurked for months before finally being able to register. This was the first thread I got hooked on. I wish there were more answers for the few remaining Sodders and I truly appriciate what you have been doing thus far. Thanks for keeping this thread current. :clap::clap::clap:

fox1950
08-21-2008, 09:24 AM
Lifetime Movie: "Little GIrl Lost: the Delimar Vera Story ..... (http://search.aol.com/aol/redir?src=websearch&requestId=e9b432ea43512195&clickedItemRank=1&userQuery=One+Lost+Girl%2C+Lifetime+movie&clickedItemDest=1116138215355820100758362397280451 4836&clickedItemMark=1219324720082&clickedItemURN=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.associatedcontent. com%2Farticle%2F909205%2Flifetime_movie_little_gir l_lost_the.html&title=%3Cb%3ELifetime+Movie%3C%2Fb%3E%3A+%26quot%3 BLittle+%3Cb%3EGIrl+Lost%3C%2Fb%3E%3A+the+Delimar+ Vera+Story+%3Cb%3E...%3C%2Fb%3E&moduleId=matchingsites.M.xml&clickedItemPageRanking=1&clickedItemPage=1&clickedItemDescription=web) This is an interesting story about a baby who burned in a fire-no bones were found-The mother never gave up and finally found the child alive. She had been kidnapped. It is a true story and well worth watching.

birdie74
08-21-2008, 12:44 PM
Very interesting! I don't have LMN, but I did see some upcoming viewing times for those of you who do.

I wonder what year the movie was made. The part about the gum in the hair seems so familiar. I think I had seen this movie years ago and had forgotten about it.

fox1950
08-21-2008, 09:59 PM
The mother did not find her until 2004, so the movie was made sometime after that.

birdie74
08-22-2008, 12:36 AM
I must be thinking of another movie then, because I think I saw it many years ago. That explains why I didn't remember the fire. It was another case of kidnapping when a mom made an excuse to take some hair from a girl that she suspected was her daughter.

birdie74
08-24-2008, 10:27 PM
I feel bad because I almost feel like we've hit a wall in this case. I'm sure a lot of others have felt that way through the years, and that's probably why so many who used to post on this sub-forum haven't been lately. I don't want it to die out though. I've been spending more time looking at a few other cases on the site, but I don't want to put this one on the back burner.

I'm sure there must be some other avenues we haven't pursued yet. Maybe if we all brainstorm or go back and read the old info, we can come up with another angle to investigate.

There are also some things I haven't posted that maybe I should. I recently joined newspaperarchive.com, and I've read dozens of articles on the case that way. I can't post them or a link to them, because you have to be a member to view them, but if anyone wants to email me or PM me with their email address, I can send them to you. I've started sending some already to a few people.

There are also a few names I've recently learned, but I've been hesitant to post them because I didn't want to talk about the source. Now I think I should just put them out there in case it can further the investigation. These people may or may not be very important to the case.

The lady who claimed to have made the phone call to the Sodder house the night of the fire, then later denied it, was Mrs. Frank Harding.

The part about the kids possibly being taken to Smithers within hours of the fire came from Mr. Raymond D. Wise of Charleston. He claimed that Mrs. Tony Bree of Smithers said that they were taken to her house very early Christmas morning, then later picked up by people with Florida tags.

I've tried to find out more about each of these 3 people. There were at least 2 Frank Hardings in the area around that time. One was a county attorney, the other a mine machinist. I think the latter is more likely the one whose wife is in question. This man seemed to run in a rough crowd, and I believe he and his wife, born Lura White, were probably divorced before his death in 1951. He was shot and killed by a saloon owner who said that he had broken into her apartment. She denied the stories that he was her former partner in the saloon business.

There was more than one Raymond Wise in the area, and I haven't really narrowed it down or learned anything significant about them.

Tony and Mary (Scalise) Bree owned a restaurant in the Smithers area for more than 40 years. The name was originally spelled Bria, and some of their kids kept that spelling. I know the Bree femily was close to the Giannini family - Frank Cipriani's wife Louise was a Giannini. Many of the Gianninis had Brees as their bridesmaids and groomsmen through the years.

A lot of this may just be useless trivia about these individuals and not really important to the case, but I want to find out as much as I can about them just in case.

I hope nobody's upset that I didn't post the info sooner, but sometimes I'm not sure the right thing to do in this case. Hopefully we can get things rolling again in the investigation. Any ideas?

fox1950
08-28-2008, 09:21 PM
Your work on this case is to be admired. I would not think anyone would be angry with you for not telling something that you weren't suppose to tell. I am the same way.

birdie74
08-29-2008, 04:15 AM
Thank you. I'll be away from my computer til Mon. PM, so I'll wish y'all now a happy Labor Day.

youshouldveknown
09-01-2008, 10:15 PM
Little Girl Lost is a new movie. It just aired this summer.

birdie74
09-06-2008, 01:51 PM
.
There were at least 2 Frank Hardings in the area around that time. One was a county attorney, the other a mine machinist. I think the latter is more likely the one whose wife is in question.

I was wrong about the county attorney Frank Harding living in WV. He was mentioned in a Charleston paper, but it was an article about a case in Maine.

There's still one other Frank Harding I know of in WV within a few tears of the fire. He was living in St. Albans in 1954 when his brother Joseph died. I haven't found anything else about him, but I doubt he was the one we want. The one killed in '51 seems to have lived right in or near Fayetteville, so he's more likely.

Thanks to Fox1950 for taking another look at the Hardings.

MIMOMMY
09-09-2008, 09:05 PM
Ok so Im hooked - I spent ALL day today reading thru the threads on this --- Kinda bummed that none of the pictures work on granddaughters website though ???

birdie74
09-09-2008, 10:23 PM
Welcome! I'm so glad you're interested.

For me, the pictures are working on the homepage for the sodderchildren.com site, but most aren't working in the photo gallery. I think most of those pictures can be found on the thread in this forum that contains pictures. Did you go to the "Download" page? The pamphlets were really interesting.

birdie74
09-20-2008, 11:49 AM
Someone sent me a lot of new info this week, so I'll post it in chunks instead of all in one long message. I'll start by telling about another tragedy in the Sodder family that may or may not be related to the childrens' disappearance.

Mrs. Sodder's sister Alma was riding with her boyfriend, Eddie Cox (who was driving) on December 21, 1948, and they were going over the Cortez Bridge down in Florida. According to John Bennett, the Bridge Tender, the car was going at a high rate of speed. The red light was working, but Mr. Cox said he didn't see the red light showing the bridge was drawn. The car went airborne abt 60 ft before falling into the water. Cox, 31, made it out. Alma, 32, did not. He was taken to the hospital with a few bruises. Jimmy Johnson, 18, dove into the water and got her out, but she had been under for about an hour. Her body had been floating in the car. Someone tried to revive her, but of course it had been too long. Her brother Frank identified her body, though the newspaper accounts said that he was unable to ID her at first. There was an inquest, but foul play couldn't be proven.

In Sept. 1951, T.C. Simmons, the investigator-in-charge with the WV Merchant Police, was investigating a report that the children had been or still were in the custody of Mrs. Sodder's sister in Vera Cruz, FL. I don't know which sister he was referring to (there were at least Mary, Alma, and Edna). I keep googling Vera Cruz, FL but can't find it. The name of the area may have changed since then.

Teresa Larson
09-21-2008, 01:24 AM
That's interesting info Birdie. I didn't know that happened. Those poor people sure went through a lot of tough times.

danmanhatter
09-21-2008, 08:09 AM
In Sept. 1951, T.C. Simmons, the investigator-in-charge with the WV Merchant Police, was investigating a report that the children had been or still were in the custody of Mrs. Sodder's sister in Vera Cruz, FL. I don't know which sister he was referring to (there were at least Mary, Alma, and Edna). I keep googling Vera Cruz, FL but can't find it. The name of the area may have changed since then.

There is a Vera Cruz in AL, OH and PA. I don't know of any historical reference to Vera Cruz, FL. Also of interest was a Vere post office (1837-1950) in Lincoln County (WV) about 70 miles away - near Tango, WV.

birdie74
09-22-2008, 12:58 PM
Thank you for checking that dan.

I was really busy this weekend, so sorry I didn't post any more of the info yet. I don't have it with me right now, but there's more to come soon.

birdie74
09-22-2008, 11:05 PM
The following info was checked out by authorities and found to not be credible, but I'll go more into that later. I think we should still check it out while being somewhat skeptical.

In July 1951, private investigators Wyly and Carter went to Cortez and interviewed Mr. and Mrs. Bennett. He was the bridge tender operating the draw the night of Alma's drowning. They were quoted as saying that the Cipriani family living there had 5 or 6 children, the oldest an 18-year-old girl in college. They were positive they had seen Jennie Irene Sodder and also thought the children had visited before the fire. They knew about the telegram Frank Cipriani received after the fire, and the PI's said that it seemed he took exceptional pains to let the telegram be seen around there. They questioned several other people, and there seemed to be a hesitation to talk about this family. The Ciprianis also had a little boy living with them according to the Bennetts and their little granddaughter. The trucks and drag line were busy all the time, so they seemed to be making money. No WV licenses were seen around the place.

Granddaughter and her mom would know more than I, but I don't think the Sodder family had visited Cortez before the fire. I wonder if it might have been other cousins or friends visiting. I'd like to find out if the Bennetts' granddaughter is still living, and talk to her if she is. I'll email the lady I've been talking to in Cortez to try to find out.

I'll post more info later.

birdie74
09-22-2008, 11:35 PM
On this same trip, the PI's also said that when they got to Cortez, they located the Cipriani property which consisted of a pure oil gas station and several cabins, and they also had a drag line and several trucks. Jimmy Cipriani (Mrs. Sodder's other brother) was there then, and he and Frank were in business together operating the drag line and trucks. They spoke to Mr. and Mrs. W.J. Evers who owned the tavern across the street, and they said that Frank had a sister drown on the bridge just before the fire in Fayetteville, which from reports in the State Attorney's office shows that it was accidental. A week or two after the tragedy, Frank came into the tavern with a telegram in his hand about the fire, and he told them he was going up there, as his family seemed to be doomed since his sister's whole family burned up. He left and was gone about 2 weeks before he returned. He never came back to the tavern, so they hadn't talked to him about it since.

There are obvious discrepencies in the timeline since the fire was 3 yrs before the drowning, but it might have been that after Alma's death, he was really upset about both family tragedies and came in with the telegram to talk about his grief from both. They may have assumed that the fire had just happened. He apparently did not go back to WV after the fire, but he did go back with Alma's body after her death, so I figure that was when he was gone 2 weeks.

The_Woof
09-26-2008, 02:06 PM
Birdie, I want you to keep posting too! I'm hooked - I don't know how much of a sluth I am, but you are AMAZING.

I had a thought about Vera Cruz. Could it be a town that was incorperated into a bigger city? I live in an area of my town that the locals all know as Pine Tree and if you ask where I live, that's what I'd say. However, Pine Tree was incorperated in to the bigger city and doesn't exist on a map as a town any more. Just a thought.

Angels_Not_Forgotten
09-27-2008, 11:19 AM
I am hooked as well. I have read every bit of the info in the three threads and now my eyes are crossed! it is a very interesting case, and because of what I have read, I don't believe the children parished in the fire.

However, that being said...Sicne the oldest two have never tried to get back to their family, and because of their age, maybe they were killed shortly after the fire...

The picture that Mr. Sodder saw of the ballett class...it say's introducing 2 new students or something like that, does anyone know if there is a way to get the enrollment list for that year to the school mentioned in Mr Sodders letter? If so, researching the names (very tedious but helpful) could prove fruitful, as someone (betty/betty lookalike) may have a picture or information posted somewhere...Will post more later, been up all night reading the threads, now must sleep!!

birdie74
09-28-2008, 04:48 PM
I'm sorry I've left you all hanging. I was really busy last week and out of town over the weekend, but I just got back, and I promise I'll post the rest of the info I got over the next couple of days. Here's a little more.

In Sept, 1951, Mr. Raper from the State Fire Marshal's office got in touch with C.R. Cobb, Arson Investigator. He said that Simmons, the investigator-in-charge with the WV Merchant Police came to his office about the Sodder case. Simmons said that he had info that the children had been or still were in the custody of Mrs. Sodder's sister at Vera Cruz, Fl. Through a detective firm in Tampa, he was trying to investigate and find the children, but it seemed that his info or funds were exhausted without any results.

Raper talked about how Mr. Sodder had had so much expense from hiring people and agencies to investigate the case, and how so many in law enforcement had thoroughly investigated it without finding any evidence that the children didn't die in the fire. He said the PIs did declare from time to time that they have certain info regarding their whereabouts.

He then asked for the proper procedure of law be put into effect to make all the PIs hired by Mr. Sodder to produce all their papers in the case so that any info in them could be investigated without further expense to Mr. Sodder. If the children then or were ever with Mrs. Sodder's sister or anyone else in Vera Cruz, that fact could probably be established through LE there without further cost.

I'll post the rest of the info I have soon. Welcome to all of you who are new to this case or to posting here. It's great to see fresh life in the case and the sub-forum.

Woof, that's a good point about Vera Cruz. You may be right. If it still exists with that name but it is a suburb of a larger city, I'm surprised I didn't find it with Google, but that doesn't prove anything for sure.

When Raper mentioned the possibility of the children still living with Mrs. Sodder's sister, I'm not sure whether he was unaware of Alma's death in '48 or was referring to another sister.

fox1950
09-28-2008, 07:52 PM
Keep going, Birdie. You've really come up with some very interesting information. How do you do it?

I've been hooked on this case since I first heard about it as a teenager. Didn't think there was more to be learned until you came along.

birdie74
09-28-2008, 09:12 PM
Thank you so much, but you are too kind. The new info isn't coming from work I've done, but from that of people I've met lately. Let's hope it leads somewhere. I know the authorities followed up on it all back then, so I don't want to get my hopes up too much, but at least we have some new avenues to explore... at least new to us.

The_Woof
09-28-2008, 11:33 PM
Birdie, I had a little time to research Vera Cruz. I couldn't find a current neighborhood, but I only looked for a little while. Fla has A LOT of history, LOL. I did find a Vera Cruz condo development in the area of the cortez bridge. No idea how old it is. Ther is also Vero Beach....

birdie74
09-29-2008, 07:30 AM
That sounds very promising that the condo development is near the bridge. Thank you!

fox1950
09-29-2008, 08:16 AM
Birdie, I found the same thing. I would say the condo's are fairly new-after 1945- but I wonder if they are in the same area that was once called Vera Cruz.

birdie74
09-30-2008, 07:50 PM
In Dec. 1951 a letter was written to Ernest Culbreath, Chief Deputy Sheriff of Hillsborough County in Tampa, FL. I'm not sure who wrote it, but I'm guessing it was Arson Investigator Cobb since there was later correspondence between the two of them. It was definitely someone from LE in WV. The letter refers a lot to someone nicknamed "Heinie", but I'm not sure who that was either.

He said that he wrote to "Heinie" a month before after Mr. Raper had talked to "Heinie" about 5 children alleged to have been moved to Cortez, FL after their home burned. He (I don't know whether this "he" is Heinie or Raper) has correspondence between Joe Carter of Tampa and Troy Simmons of Charleston, WV concerning these children which is self-explanatory.

Since writing "Heinie", another operator, O.D. "Dave" Fisher entered the case here (in WV). He reported that Mr. Barnette, County Commissioner of Cortez, FL, said he definitely saw the Sodder children in Cortez after the date of the fire.

The letter then said the question has arisen from time to time as to whether the children perished in the flames or were kidnapped. There is also a question concerning the parts of bodies found in the debris. He then listed the childrens' names and ages at the time of the fire.

It then said "shady and incompetent private detectives have from time to time advanced theories, manufactured evidence, etc., which has resulted in causing the parents much anxiety and takes every cent they earn, day by day.

"Our office, the State Police, and County Officers have thoroughly investigated every hit of evidence available, even investigating rumors, such as this report evidently is and not a single bit of evidence has been found that..."

That's where the first page leaves off, and I don't have any info on the rest of the letter.

birdie74
09-30-2008, 09:44 PM
There is a document dated a day after the last letter, written by Sgt. N.C Reger with the Dept. of Public Safety (WV State Police). He said that Maj. Boyles directed that the following info be typewritten and inserted in the Sodder case file.

Dave (O.D.) Fisher called Maj. Boyles and said that "a Mr. Barnette, County Commissioner of Cortez, Florida, said he definitely saw the Sodder children in Cortez after the date on which the fire occurred. He also said that Mr. Cipriani, a brother of Mrs. Sodder, is supposed to make a trip to Florida about every two weeks. Fisher advised Major Boyles that Joe Carter, of Tampa Coast Patrol and Detective Agency, is the man investigating the case in and around Cortez. Fisher gave Major Boyles 'information' which is the subject of a letter to Captain C.L. Walker, which is attached to this page. This letter to Captain Walker is also written at the Major's direction."

I haven't seen what's in the letters he referenced in this document.

shadowangel
09-30-2008, 10:08 PM
[quote=birdie74;2757967] <snipped> In Dec. 1951 a letter was written to Ernest Culbreath, Chief Deputy Sheriff of Hillsborough County in Tampa, FL. I'm not sure who wrote it, but I'm guessing it was Arson Investigator Cobb since there was later correspondence between the two of them. It was definitely someone from LE in WV. The letter refers a lot to someone nicknamed "Heinie", but I'm not sure who that was either. [quote]

"Heinie" was a fairly common deragotory term used for Germans, especially around WW1. It later came to be used quite often for German baseball players in the '20s and '30s. The letter(s) may be referencing someone of Germanic descent.

On a side note, I'm amazed at the amount of information that has been found since I first posted the original thread. The memory of that billboard has haunted me since the very early '70s,...I'm glad the story of the Sodder children is once again gaining attention.

birdie74
09-30-2008, 10:16 PM
In Jan. 1952, a letter was written to the Superintendent at the Dept. of Public Safety in Charleston, WV from W.R. Callaghan, 1st Sgt, Company "D", at the Dept. of Public Safety in Montgomery, WV.

He said that on the morning of Nov. 19, 1951, he and Capt. C.L. Walker "contacted Mr. and Mrs. Tony Bree of Smithers, W.Va. in regards to the following story or information furnished by Mr. George Sodder of Fayetteville, W.Va. Mr. Sodder stated, 'On the night that his children were supposed to have burned up in his home near Fayetteville, W.Va. about Christmas time of 1945, that Mr. and Mrs. Toney Bree of Smithers, W.Va. were supposed to have had the Sodder children in her home and kept them all night, while apparently awaiting transportation to Florida, or elsewhere by Mrs. Sodder's brother, a man by the name of Cipriani.'"

He and Capt. Walker "contacted Mr. and Mrs. Toney Bree and related the accusation made by Mr. Sodder in reference to the children having been at her house during the night before Christmas of 1945. Both, Mr. and Mrs. Toney Bree denied that the Sodder children had been there at the time specified, or at any other time to the best of their knowledge. They did admit that they were close friends with Mrs. Sodder's brother Jimmy Cipriani of Smithers, W.Va. and the other brother, who lives in Florida. The Bree's advised that the Cipriani family from Florida had been to their place somewhat earlier the year of 1945 and had eaten either dinner or supper with them before leaving for Florida, but they did not have any of the Sodder children with them at that time, nor was the Sodder family mentioned while they were visiting at the Brees' home."

Sgt. Callahan then said he had "known the Bree family personally for several years and personally [knows] that Toney Bree is honest and well respected by the people of his neighborhood." He said he believed they were both truthful in the matter concerning the Sodder children.

birdie74
09-30-2008, 10:21 PM
Shadowangel, I'm so glad to see you posting here again! I started by reading the older threads, and once I caught up I missed you, the other Shadow, and the others who used to post here. I really admire the work you all did.

birdie74
09-30-2008, 10:43 PM
In Feb. 1952, a letter was written to Arson Investigator Cobb by Sheriff Hugh Culbreath. He said they received his communication of Jan. 22, 1952 about the Sodder case.

He was informing Cobb that on that day (Feb. 4th), he went to Bradenton, FL and contacted Mr. Roy Baden, Sheriff of that county. He very thoroughly went over this case with Sheriff Baden, and Baden was very familiar with it because he had thoroughly investigated it and also gotten FBI Agent McVey, who is stationed at Bradenton, to make an investigation in the matter.

"There is definitely no foundation for any report coming from that county in regards to the Sodder children. Mr. Baden informed me that he contacted all the persons who you named in your letter to us and there is definitely no foundation for the report of the private investigator hired by Mr. Sodder to make the investigation at Bradenton. Sheriff Baden also informs me that he has good contacts in Cortez and they were interviewed along with the others you mentioned both by himself and the FBI."

"I haven't, however, contacted the owner or any representative of the Tampa Patrol and Detective System because needless to say if they had any information, they would be hesitant to give it to us. I think however, that the investigation made by both the FBI office and the Sheriff's office of Manatee County is sufficient to rest your mind and should rest the minds of the parents of the deceased children. However, if we can be of any further assistance to you in this matter, please call on us."

shadowangel
09-30-2008, 10:46 PM
I never really did that much, simple speculation based on the little bits of information that were generally available. My major contribution was just getting the story out there again---And most of the credit for that goes to Shadow205, who actually was able to recall the circumstances of the billboard. You've been able to find out much more relevant info as to what really occured that night.

In my heart, I honestly do not believe the children died that night. Where the story goes from there, is still for us to discover. I think you're on to a credible trail now...If there's anything I can do to help, just let me know.

fox1950
09-30-2008, 10:47 PM
An article about the Bree's retirement from their restaurant business in Smithers....



Charleston Daily Mail (Newspaper) - April 1, 1966, Charlesto... (http://search.aol.com/aol/redir?src=websearch&s_req=d09ad904656de44d&s_cr=1&s_cq=Tony+bree%2C+WV&s_cid=85689297432998971087573433680898395524&s_cim=1222828742828&s_cu=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.newspaperarchive.com%2Fnewsp apers1%2Fna0014%2F6785587%2F45989202_clean.html&s_cd=web&s_cm=matchingsites.M.xml&s_ct=Charleston+Daily+Mail+%28Newspaper%29+-+April+1%2C+1966%2C+Charleston+%3Cb%3E...%3C%2Fb%3 E&s_cp=1&s_cpr=1) NO MORE APRON STRINGS Still at the stove and salad bowl after 41 years of feeding the public Tony and Mary Bree of Smithers are getting ready In hang up ...

birdie74
09-30-2008, 11:24 PM
This is the last page on which I have info at this time. It is typed, but the name "Sgt. Reger" is handwritten at the top. I'm not sure who wrote it. It says that the following info was received at Dept. Headquarters Feb. 18, 1952 from Mr. John Woodruff, Special Agent, FBI.

"On Sept. 20, 1949, George Sodder was in Washington, D.C., and at that time reported this matter to the FBI. He related all the facts and background in the case, which are already known, but in conclusion he stated that he had received no threats, no ransom notes, and had no evidence of kidnapping, and at that time nothing was said about the possibility of the children being in Florida.

"On Sept. 10, 1951, Mr. Archie L. Wyley, a private detective of Tampa Patrol Detective Association, Tampa, Florida, reported this case to the Miami Office of FBI, and gave the background of the case, which is already known.

"At that time he stated that he had been hired by letter by the West Virginia Merchant Police, of Charleston, West Virginia, to investigate this case. He related that five children of Mr. and Mrs. George Sodder, who were reported burned to death in a fire at Fayetteville, West Virginia, on Christmas Eve, 1945, and that information had been developed which indicated that these children had been kidnapped and were now living with the family of Frank Cipriani. He believed the children had been kidnapped and taken to Florida.

"On continued questioning, Wyley finally admitted that he was confident two of the children who reside in the home of Cipriani, and that Martha Lee Cipriani was actually a daughter of Frank Cipriani instead of being Martha Lee Sodder as originally reported.

"The FBI investigation included a check of birth records and school records dating back to 1940 and 1941. These checks reflected that the four children in Florida living with Mr. and Mrs. Frank Cipriani are all natural born citizens of the Ciprianis. The school records reflect that these children were in school, some of them back to 1941, and the records were traced all the way through to 1951 and there is no break in their attendance in Florida schools.

"Frank Hall Cipriani, an 8th grade student at Manatee County Junior High School, Bradenton, Florida, Martha Lee Cipriani, a student of the University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida, and Mrs. Frank Cipriani, Cortez, Florida, were all individually interviewed and they told exactly the same story. The facts were that the Ciprianis were residing at Cortez, Florida, and that the children were playing with neighbor children on Christmas Day, 1945, and when they came in they learned that their father and mother were very unhappy because they had received a telegram from West Virginia advising that the home of the Sodder family had burned the night before and five of the children burned to death. None of the Ciprianis went to West Virginia for the funeral and they had no direct contact with the family until about a year later."

birdie74
09-30-2008, 11:53 PM
If there were children other than Frank's staying with them down in Cortez, and if they were not the Sodder children, I would guess they were Jimmy Cipriani's since he was working with Frank, and most likely the one traveling back and forth every couple of weeks.

fox1950
10-01-2008, 08:48 AM
So the Sodder's had a daughter named Martha Lee Sodder and the Cipriani's had a daughter named Martha Lee Cipriani? ODD.....

birdie74
10-01-2008, 01:03 PM
That's right... it was apparently a source of confusion back then, but I know for a fact that Frank's daughter was named Martha, so I assume the middle name Lee is correct also.

Rhett
10-01-2008, 01:33 PM
Wouldn't the Sodders and the Cipriani's have visited each other at all in the years since the fire? Wouldn't they have seen the children or some signs of them if they were with the Cipriani's?

fox1950
10-01-2008, 03:57 PM
That's right... it was apparently a source of confusion back then, but I know for a fact that Frank's daughter was named Martha, so I assume the middle name Lee is correct also.
I wonder why the Sodders would not have already known that Frank had a daughter named Martha Lee also before the fire occurred. If she was in college in 1951 then she would have been born before the fire. Were the Sodders and Ciprianis not close? Seems they knew little about each other.

Rhett, I have a feeling that the two families were not close after the fire, simply because the Sodders were a part of the investigation that went on in Florida. Apparently there was a lack of trust there. Seems a though there was some conflict over Mrs. Sodder's father's estate prior to the fire.

Jimmy Cipriani was part of the search the day after the fire of the ashes. Apparently he said later during a hearing, that he saw remains of the children that day. What I can not understand is why he did not talk to Mrs. Sodder after she became convinced the children were alive and told her this information. Maybe he did and she didn't believe him. Seems these two families relationship was very strained.

birdie74
10-01-2008, 05:28 PM
I'm sure the Sodders new about Martha Cipriani. I believe any confusion was with the witnesses or law enforcement when the Ciprianis were being investigated a few years after the fire. Once the story went national, several people claimed to have seen the children in Cortez, so then the records had to be checked to verify that the children living with Frank, including Martha, were his. That's when things got confusing with him having a daughter named Martha Lee.

I don't think anyone believed that the children lived with Frank in Cortez all through the years. The theory is that they came to stay with him or his sister for a few months or years, but were moved by the time the investigation was focused in that direction. Frank Cipriani was not close to the Sodders during that time period and did not make it back to WV for the funeral.

shadowangel
10-01-2008, 05:36 PM
From what you've read, Birdie, do you feel the children were close with any member of the Cipriani family? Was there a member with whom they may have felt comfortable, or had spent any appreciable amount of time with?

birdie74
10-01-2008, 06:49 PM
Granddaughter could probably answer better than I, but I'll try. I get the feeling they knew all the Ciprianis, but that Frank and his family were the ones they were least close to since they had lived in Florida for a few years by the time of the fire. I think they were closer to Alma... the Sodders were very grateful to her for supplying the photos of the children after the fire. She, Jimmy, and Mary all lived in the area I believe. Edna had moved away at some point, I think to the Carolinas, but I'm not sure when. I heard wonderful things about Joseph Cipriani, Jennie's father who had passed away a year earlier, and know that Mr. Sodder respected him tremendously. I think they were probably fairly close to their grandmother, but I can't imagine her being involved in any way.

Laura_Bean
10-06-2008, 04:26 PM
Many children in the 1940's were named after family members who had died or even were still living. May I ask, is it possible that the wife's brother named his daughter, Martha Lee after someone in the family, and is it possible that Mrs. Sodder did the same with her daughter? Maybe a grandma or a great grandparent that either died or was left behind in Italy?

birdie74
10-06-2008, 09:50 PM
That would make sense. Also, Mary and Martha are both common names in Catholic and other Christian families, so that could be it also. Someone in the Sodder family might be able to answer that better. I do believe from info I read on a genealogy message board that their Aunt Alma was named after her grandmother back in Italy.

fox1950
10-07-2008, 09:10 PM
Birdie, did all the investigations in Florida result from the rumor that the children stayed at the Bree's overnight before being picked up by one of Mrs. Sodder's brothers?

birdie74
10-07-2008, 10:06 PM
I could be wrong, but I think the Florida focus came after the story went national with the reward and tips started coming in. I believe the first reported Cortez sighting was by a missionary down there who claimed to have been in the home and seen the children. There were apparently 5 witnesses who were quoted as saying they had seen them there, then later denied it. I'm pretty sure the Bennetts are 2 of the 5 counted. I just don't know whether they were all mistaken, lying for the reward, misquoted by unscrupulous PI's, or truthful at first but intimidated into recanting. Each of these seems like a possibility to me since I don't know much about the people involved.

The part about the Brees seemed to support the Cortez theory on the surface, but I don't think it started it all. I don't know which part was reported first.

I was in contact today with the lady I've been talking to in Cortez, and she knows some of the children of people involved (like the Bennetts and Evers), so I hope I'll be able to talk to them soon. I'd like to take a few days to go back down there and meet a lot of people who might know something, but I doubt I can until after the holidays. I'll probably have to settle for email or phone right now.

Laura_Bean
10-09-2008, 10:14 AM
I just recieved an email from a woman who went to school at the right Walt Whitman school. She only went for a half a year but she even stayed at Louise Kreugar's home. She told me Louise was a wonderful person and asked me why I was interested in the school. I just sent her an email detailing the case. I hope she will get back to me. Perhaps, even though she was there for only a short time, perhaps she knew the Betty look a like. Cross your fingers, we may get lucky here.

fox1950
10-09-2008, 11:48 AM
Thats great. Hope she responds.

Laura_Bean
10-09-2008, 12:45 PM
I stumbled onto your posting regarding Walt Whitman School when I was googling
the school out of curiosity this morning. How amazing to discover someone out
there actually remembers the place!

I attended Walt Whitman School for only one academic year 1955-1956 when I was
in second grade. Although I was only 8-yrs. old, I remember Louise Krueger
because I spent the summer of 1956 at her ranch outside Tucson, Arizona. Miss
Krueger (as I always addressed her) would board a small number of students at
the ranch during her summer vacation and my parents sent me out there with her
to recover from chronic bronchitis. For some reason, I remember being told Ms.
Krueger had acquired the ranch as part of a divorce settlement . A married
couple with a teenage cowboy son named Rusty managed the ranch for Ms.Krueger, and as I became Rusty's adoring little mascot following him
everywhere, Rusty probably told me.

Anyway, I still have wonderful memories of that summer in 1956 spent at Louise
Krueger's ranch, and although I can't remember anything specific about her, I do
remember her as a kind woman I felt safe with as a child. She took me on all
sorts of exciting trips, driving around Arizona sightseeing and driving up Mount
Lemon in the Catalina mountains outside Tucson. Thinking back, I realize I lived
under the same roof with her for 3 months, eating meals together, swimming
everyday, horseback riding. All my life, I've said that the summer of 1956 spent
at Miss Krueger's ranch was the happiest summer of my life. So obviously, Louise
Krueger was an exceptional educator and human being to take such good care of a
sickly, shy little girl and give her such a wonderful experience.

I'm curious about why you're interested in Walt Whitman School. Did you go
there, too? Several years ago before the Internet became readily available, I once tried to track down info on the school
but couldn't find anything. It's as if the school simply vanished. And now,I'm
curious about the trajectory of Louise Krueger's life. Given what her age might
have realistically been when I knew her in 1956, she's probably dead by now.

Hope my little story helps and I'd appreciate any details you might be able to
provide on the school and Louise Krueger.

Best,

Eleanore

fox1950
10-10-2008, 03:26 PM
I just looked under World War II veterans in the History of Fayette County, West Virginia, 1993, book and James Cipriani was listed as serving in World War II. I would suspect that this is Jimmy, since Alma was only in her early 30's when she was killed. Also listed was an Edward and a Joseph Cipriani.

birdie74
10-11-2008, 12:33 AM
These may not be the ones referred to there, but I know that Mrs. Sodder's father was named Joseph, a brother of hers was James (Jimmy), and her other brother Frank had a son named Edward.

birdie74
10-11-2008, 12:38 AM
Oh, and I forgot that Frank also had a son Joseph. Edward was the oldest and ended up settling in Cortez, but Joseph, the second oldest, stayed in Fayette Co., WV I believe.

snowme
10-12-2008, 08:02 PM
Wow! I've spent the last several weeks reading everything in this forum and all of the articles & associated links. The Sodder name seemed familiar to me when I registered recently but I think that stems from having been a lurker here at websleuths for quite some time.

This story/case is captivating and those who've worked on it here are amazing! I'm in awe at some of the work.

I have a couple questions.

Since there are Cipriani brothers why was it up to their sister, Mrs. Sodder, to "settle Mr. Cipriani's estate?" Wouldn't this have fallen to the males? And was it ever discovered exactly what 'settling the estate' meant in detail?

Was there ever a more current dig investigation? I recall reading one of the last posts by JBandy as indicating he'd become good friends with the current property owners and that they'd given their ok for this to take place.

Once again, Wow!

birdie74
10-12-2008, 10:27 PM
I don't know the whole story about the settling of the estate. My guess is that there was either some kind of dispute, or something that all the heirs needed to agree to. Others might be able to answer this better.

Thank you for joining us here and looking into this case. I know it's a little addictive, isn't it? Welcome.

snowme
10-13-2008, 04:11 AM
Thanks for the quick reply birdie. :) Addictive? hmm, only in an all-consuming, must-go-read-more, can't-stop-thinking-on-it kind of way. :crazy:

Thanks for the welcome!

I don't know the whole story about the settling of the estate. My guess is that there was either some kind of dispute, or something that all the heirs needed to agree to. Others might be able to answer this better.

Thank you for joining us here and looking into this case. I know it's a little addictive, isn't it? Welcome.

Laura_Bean
10-13-2008, 01:46 PM
Very addictive.

birdie74
10-16-2008, 11:12 PM
I received a message from the lady I've been talking to in Cortez. She has spoken to a man who was 14 when Alma Cipriani died in the crash off the bridge, and he is the son of the Evers couple who owned the bar. He said that he will never forget it. The sirens went off and they all started running. The draw was up and there was a big wheel in the middle. The car had to have been airborne, and there was alcohol involved.

After she was found, her body was brought to a fish dock and he went down there. She was badly bruised, and her hair was wet and over her face, so that may be why her brother didn't identify her right away. Mr. Amlong was the sheriff and the one who held the inquest.

He said there were some kids, but he knew nothing about them... something about a brother of Frank's.

I'll try to contact him myself soon to ask him a few more questions.

fox1950
10-17-2008, 05:26 PM
Birdie, thanks for the update. Can't wait to hear what he has to say.

Laura, did you ever hear any more from the lady from Walt Whitman?

Laura_Bean
10-20-2008, 01:19 PM
Sadly she hasn't written back. Which is unfortunate. She was my only link to Walt Witman school AND Louise.

Laura_Bean
10-27-2008, 02:02 PM
Has anyone heard from granddaughter? Sent her the photo and have not recieved anything back. is she still even searching for these children or using websleuths at all?

Can someone call WV, the library or archives? I wonder if these children could have been playing in a mine, an abandoned mine or something. They had new toys from their sister, so what if they went outside that night to play in their special place, an old unused mine, and it caved in on them? And let's take this a step furthur. If the parents closed down the mine when they still had their children could it have been because the mine was deemed unsafe? Let's look at a few possibilities from there. George closes the mines because they are deemed unsafe. The children play in the old cave and there is a cave in. They have no way out, and die there together. Because of the fire everyone thinks they are dead anyway, and no one checks the local mines. Also, by the time the father suspects something else, he automatically thinks abduction, fire was caused intentionally, etc. So he doesn't check the local mines either.

Just some thoughts. Let me know what you all think.

birdie74
10-28-2008, 12:41 AM
Granddaughter and I have emailed periodically, but it's been a few weeks since we've had any contact. I know the last time she apologized for not getting back to me sooner, but she's had a lot going on with her business and family. I don't think she or her family have lost interest in the case, but she's just a very busy person right now.

I read one newspaper article from a few years after the fire which stated that police had been searching the old mines in the area. At the time, they were going on the theory that the children were murdered shortly after the fire, and their bodies were dumped somewhere in the county.

Laura, the way you asked the question made me wonder. Did the Sodders have a mine on their property? I don't remember hearing about one, but you never know. I would think that if there was one, it would have been the first one they checked.

snowme
10-28-2008, 12:55 AM
Hi Laura, I don't know how likely back in those days it would have been to close a mine due to safety reasons (my impression is mine owners were very focused on getting that profitable product out, period)... which led to a great deal of stripped mines and at that point abandoned due to depletion of product. Either way it leaves a once booming mine silenced, doesn't it? If I've read it before I'm not remembering how close the Sodder's place was to any actual mines tho. Anyone aware of any being so close these children could have scampered off in the night to one of them?

Also, if I'm recalling accurately, there was a light skim of snow on the ground that night wasn't there? I'm not sure they'd want to go outside for more than tending to the chickens and the cow as they had been instructed to do since it was middle of the night in late December... brrrr. But maybe I've lost my childlike sense of adventure over the years.

This thinking tho does at least offer a potential valid reason as to why none of the missing Sodder children's remains were found within the destruction. I don't think that the few bone fragments they found (nor the fleshy or organ type material they produced) had any connection to any of the children.

It's hard for me to come to any kind of conclusion for my own thinking other than what Mr. & Mrs. Sodder believed. The combination of the events that happened shortly before Christmas eve '45, that horrid night, and the events & "investigation" after are just too bizarre and sometimes "coincidental" for me to look at them in any other light than what they present themselves to me in at first glance.

I am curious tho, if anyone can answer or if granddaughter is still reading, if Mr. Sodder did indeed check mines. Being in that business I would think if he felt the need to investigate them he definitely would. Does anyone know if that did happen, at any time.

The idea of someone feeling the Sodder's, Mrs. Sodder in particular but likely her husband as he was the bread winner, needed to "settle" Mr. Cipriani's "estate" (were those the words?) still looms in my mind. If it was just a matter of the man owed a few bills or what-have-you that's one thing but it sounded as if it was made to sound ominous. And I'm still curious as to why the male Cipriani children weren't the ones to have this matter fall to. As I recall a couple of them did live near their father... one of them even showed up the morning of the fire, correct? (and I was left with the impression he was one of the ones encouraging the Sodder's to accept their loss rather quickly?)

Laura, I certainly would like a simpler answer such as the mines. Some of the info just seems to complex to really wrap my mind around but if it were something simple... why do I feel LE went way way out of their way to complicate something that was indeed, altho horrific, explainable. Ugh, I'm spinning my mental wheels, lol, I'm gonna think on the mine idea for a while.

Has anyone heard from granddaughter? Sent her the photo and have not recieved anything back. is she still even searching for these children or using websleuths at all?

Can someone call WV, the library or archives? I wonder if these children could have been playing in a mine, an abandoned mine or something. They had new toys from their sister, so what if they went outside that night to play in their special place, an old unused mine, and it caved in on them? And let's take this a step furthur. If the parents closed down the mine when they still had their children could it have been because the mine was deemed unsafe? Let's look at a few possibilities from there. George closes the mines because they are deemed unsafe. The children play in the old cave and there is a cave in. They have no way out, and die there together. Because of the fire everyone thinks they are dead anyway, and no one checks the local mines. Also, by the time the father suspects something else, he automatically thinks abduction, fire was caused intentionally, etc. So he doesn't check the local mines either.

Just some thoughts. Let me know what you all think.