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  1. #1
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    Feb 2007
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    WV - Sodder Family - 5 children, Christmas eve 1945 - #4

    Please continue here.
    ~JMO~

    A grandfather is someone with silver in his hair and gold in his heart. ~Author Unknown


    Long Lost Love - Discovery ID - Disappeared - Bob Harrod Case

    You can now purchase Mr. Harrod's Disappeared episode through Amazon, iTunes or YouTube.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
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    Washington, D.C.
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    Update

    Hello! Not an update with any groundbreaking information, but I did locate the daughter of Joe Sodder, who I believe is the son who was away in the military at the time of the fire, if I remember correctly.

    I wrote her what I hope was a very kind, please-don't-answer-if-you-don't-wish-to letter and received a nice response. She stated she does not have any other information beyond what has been published "many times" and does not wish to discuss her late father's theories on what may have happened to his siblings, understandably. I thanked her profusely for responding!

    Also, I have access to a media contact database and sent personalized notes about the Sodders to a couple people at Dateline and 48 Hours Mystery. I wish I'd thought of doing this sooner, as Christmas Eve falls on a Friday this year (the typical air day for these shows) and 2010 marks the 65th anniversary of the Sodder fire. Probably won't hear anything back from these folks, but it was worth a shot.

  3. #3
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    Nov 2010
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    Thanks for doing that, RMIC! I would love to see this story on such a show.

    What were Joe's theories on what happened? I don't recall if I've read about them.

  4. #4
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    Nov 2010
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    Washington, D.C.
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    I haven't read anything about his thoughts, either; I was hoping to glean those from his daughter, but she understandably preferred not to share. Since he wasn't at the home at the time of the fire, he might not have been able to comment specifically on the events of that evening, but I'm sure he had his own guesses as to what happened.

    By the way, if anyone has ideas on other old magazine issues to search for the potential photo of Betty Sodder that George Sodder thought he saw about a year after the fire, feel free to let me know. I live near Washington, D.C., and would be happy to visit the Library of Congress archives! This mystery has me fully in its grips

  5. #5
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    Sep 2009
    Location
    Montana
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    RMIC -

    I know somewhere in the threads there was a poster who was in contact with a librarian at the Library of Congress...I think they might have listed what they'd ruled out.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
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    Mystery of Missing Children Haunts W.Va. Town
    by Stacy Horn

    http://www.npr.org/templates/story/s...toryId=5067563

    "The Sodder parents and four of their children escaped. But five of the Sodder children, ages 5, 8, 9, 12 and 14, were never seen again."

    This is the first I have read of this case...very sad!

    My initial thoughts...the investigative work back then is primative to present day. Unfortunately, one can only guess as to just really how many bones & organs were actually discovered in the ashes and if they were from one or five children.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
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    Isolated
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    Hi everyone,

    I'm new here and this is my first post. I've read and read, and I may have missed the relevant post: JBandy (Jonathan, I think) posted somewhere that he got permission to excavate on the site. I couldn't find any posts that would say if the excavations actually went ahead and what the results were, if any. Apologies if I'm wasting people's time and the thread is somewhere obvious.

    I'm also curious as to whether or not the children spoke any Italian, or were they brought up as English-speaking. If not, or if they only spoke very basic Italian, and if I go on the assumption that they were taken to Italy, that could have been part of why they never looked for their family/family history etc. I keep thinking that if that was the case, the children may have been separated, isolated, never spoken to in English, never got the chance to speak English to anyone, or to speak amongst themselves - Betty at least was young enough to completely eradicate most of her memories if anyone set their mind to it. Also, it is easy to intimidate and control girls to the point where they stay in the same situation for years, decades - by isolation, telling them that the rest of the family is dead, threatening them that the life/lives of other siblings depend on their obedience. It still happens.

    I can't stop thinking that there is something sinister about the way no one heard anything. What comes to my mind is that a violent abduction doesn't fit, since the children were of such age span (5-14) that they wouldn't have gone quietly. At least some of them would have cried for fear, or resisted, shouted, fought. The scary thought is that they may have known someone who was outside the house and left the house voluntarily, not suspecting that anything untoward might happen. Someone who said something like, let's go carol singing, let's go see Santa, let's go play, or even help me find my puppy. I think Mrs. Sodder found the door unlocked (or was it even 'open', not just unlocked?) and the lights still on?

    It is such a sad story, and I wish the children would be found, or their fates would be known. The family is in my thoughts. I hope I have not upset or offended anyone.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
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    Texas
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    185
    Quote Originally Posted by Firefly75 View Post
    Hi everyone,

    I'm new here and this is my first post. I've read and read, and I may have missed the relevant post: JBandy (Jonathan, I think) posted somewhere that he got permission to excavate on the site. I couldn't find any posts that would say if the excavations actually went ahead and what the results were, if any. Apologies if I'm wasting people's time and the thread is somewhere obvious.
    I'd love to know the results of this excavation as well, if it ever took place. That would be the easiest way to put this mystery to rest, IMO.
    Occam's Razor: It's not a product made by Gillette.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
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    14
    Thinking of the Sodders today, as I'm sure many of us are.

  10. #10
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    Jun 2004
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ravenclaw View Post
    Thinking of the Sodders today, as I'm sure many of us are.
    Yes, I was too.


  11. #11
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    Feb 2010
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    Washington State
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    I've heard a lot of theories about the mafia, but what about the Klan?
    The Klan did not just spread hatred of blacks; they were also anti-Catholic, which means they were against Italians, Poles, etc.
    I'm not sure of the Mafia presence in West Virginia, but there was definitely a Klan presence there. (Speaking of a recently deceased Senator from that state who was in the Klan when he was younger.)

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
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    I have spent hours reading the threads and my heart is heavy once again and of course wishing I could solve this for this family. I don't have much to add but to suggest TES, contacting a movie producer to see if they would do a movie, perhaps someone out there knows and is older now and will at least submit a tip? It would be a great movie as long as they keep it not a cheap thriller movie.

    The only thing that struck out to me while reading is the Fire Chief, them not having equipment, maybe some other volunteer fireman started the fire to garnish funds for equipment? Notoriety? Or could there have been an arsonist on the prowl? As to them being alive or not. I'm not convinced either way but no evidence is just astounding!

    PS:

    Grandma and family, thank you for your grace and sharing, you've touched me deeply. I've never ever heard about this case, now I have.

  13. #13
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    Oct 2010
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    Oh one more ounce of speculation to think about. What if this is a case of mistaken identify? Someone thought this family was a German sympathizer or a distant relative was and sought out retribution? To me this would explain why the children were taken and house set on fire.

    This was the time when the Nuremberg trials started right?

  14. #14
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    Washington State
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    The Nuremberg Trials were going on, yes.

    I don't see it, though. The war was over, and I'm not sure that an Italian accent would be mistaken for a German one. The name isn't really German-sounding.

    I know of Italian-Americans who changed their last name to something more English-sounding just to be able to get jobs and avoid hatred due to their Catholicism and immigrant status.

    I think it's more likely that the Klan was after them. According to Wikipedia, the Klan was engaged in firebombings during the early fifties, including one on Christmas Eve. The KKK was active in West Virginia; according to a discussion on a message board the Italian-Americans in West Virginia were afraid of the Klan.

    Maybe the kids managed to escape but fell into the hands of Klansmen who were waiting, and they decided to murder and dispose of the bodies?

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
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    470
    Paul. That is a good theory. The fact that it happened on Christmas eve could have meant something to them. If the children saw them, the klansmen, say, when they went outside to begin their chores, they could have been grabbed before getting anything done. Does anyone know if there were any signs of a struggle that night, outside of the house? A bucket laying on it's side on the ground, a child's shoe, anything that would suggest they had gone outside to do the outdoor chores and were stopped before getting to them?

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