This story has always haunted me particularly because I grew up very close to where this happened. My grandparents used to live across the road from the Sodder family for quite a few years, and although this happened way before my time, my Dad's oldest sister played with the Sodder children when she was young.
As for what really happened, let me first say that I am convinced that the children could not possibly have all died in the fire. There is no way that a house fire would have totally destroyed all bones and teeth of 5 children (some of whom were nearing adult size). The last time I was with my family in WV, I asked them what they thought or what they had heard about who may have been responsible. They all said that many people in town were fairly sure that the Italian mafia took the kids and placed them or sold them to other families. This belief was due to some mafia connections with the Sodder family and the story about the threats made to George Sodder before the fire by another local man selling insurance (who also ended up being on the coroner's inquest which determined that all the kids died in the fire).
I've spoken with a family member who still live in Fayetteville about possibly creating a local group to drum up interest and possible information about the case. We also discussed trying to get the historical society to get involved. By now, any adults involved are most likely deceased or very old, but someone has to have heard something. If we could get some local discussion going, people would probably be more willing to talk now that no one would really be in danger if the truth came out. I'm sure someone in the area knows something that might shed light on things. Any thoughts or ideas? Any other locals interested? I may put this link on my facebook page to see if anyone from the Fayetteville/Oak Hill area has info to add.
I just found out something that may be helpful. IlIl what was on the back of the photo means ON THE in ITALIAN. On the.
I wish I would have read this a bit sooner! I just moved out of Fayetteville, but I am still willing to be involved in any way that I can. I just haven't been able to get these kids out of my head for years.