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  1. #1
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    Question Sodder Family - The brother said he called

    The brothers who slept in the other room upstairs, claimed they called through the door to their siblings, whom they believed were in the next room asleep. They said they heard them answer as they ran down the stairs. If they heard them answer, truly, we know exactly what tragedy befell the children.

    Fire consumes house




    Jeannie Sodder woke for the first time that night shortly after midnight when the phone in her husband’s downstairs office rang. It was a woman with the wrong number. She walked back to the bedroom, climbed back into bed with her husband and drifted back to sleep. Thirty minutes later, she was awakened again by something that sounded like a thump on the roof. She listened for it to happen again, but when it did not, she went back to sleep.

    Another half hour later, Jeannie Sodder woke a third time — this time because she smelled smoke.

    She ran from the room in search of the source and found flames spreading from a corner of her husband’s office. The fire prevented her from reaching the telephone.

    She ran back toward the bedroom, calling to her husband. She woke Marian, who had fallen asleep on the downstairs couch, and told her to get Sylvia out of the house. Then she went to the stairway and shouted to wake the rest of the family.

    Only George and John, the two oldest boys, came down. John had yelled toward the next room, where the other children would have normally been, and he thought he heard them answer. He and George started helping their father battle the fire, and Jeannie, Marian and young Sylvia stood helplessly outside, watching the blaze spread quickly throughout their home.

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    So why would their son lie and say he had heard them? Or "believed" he had heard them if he hadn't? I am quite certain he would NOT lie about that. However, the parents were looking for hope no matter how hopeless this situation was. Could they have pushed their son(s) into saying they "weren't sure"? I read somewhere that John would never speak of the children or what happened that night. I think that says something.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Stacy Horn's Blogspot

    There was a number of things that were cut from my piece about the Sodder family to get it down to eight minutes. I’m posting some of it here, and then some comments, for people who are well acquainted with the Sodder story. For those of you not acquainted with the story, none of this will make any sense to you, and you might as well skip this post.

    All the newspaper stories in the past seem to be weighted towards the conclusion that the children did not die in the fire. But I found just as much information to indicate that they did. I can see how that happened, though. When I put this story together, after meeting the family, every piece of evidence I found that pointed towards the children’s deaths felt like a betrayal. Who wants to insist the children are dead? I hate saying anything that might remove hope. If 60 years later I am having trouble pointing out anything that might indicate that the children died that night, I can imagine the reluctance of people who had to look George Sodder in the face.

    However, even though I think they died in the fire, there is enough genuine weirdness about this whole thing, and a couple of things that were not adequately investigated, that if someday it is learned that the children did not die in the fire I won’t be shocked. But weirdness does not necessarily equal murder, and I don’t think that’s what happened.

    I found out all sorts of things, like the fact that some remains were found on Christmas morning (although the family says they were never told this) and also that the oldest son John said he went in and shook his brothers and sisters. The family says he said that out of guilt, because he felt that’s what he should have done, which absolutely could be true. But it could also be true that he did exactly what he said he did.

    Here are some sections that were cut from my piece. I talked to a number of fire professionals in Fayettevile (and I talked to a friend in the FDNY before I interviewed them). They all felt it was likely the children died first.

    STERLING LEWIS: If it got in the walls, it could literally have traveled straight up, what we call chimney and go straight into the top floor and not even burn the 1st floor. Start in the basement and go to the 3rd floor. Cause fire will jump like that.

    Very few individuals burn to death, they’re always dead prior to the fire getting there due to smoke inhalation.

    HORN: Why did the two oldest boys make it downstairs and none of the others? Is it possible that some of the children succumbed to smoke inhalation but two didn’t?

    STERLING LEWIS. Absolutely. We get that all the time. We’ll find individuals laying in bed, dead, and then we’ll find another individual that’s laying a foot from the door. I mean they were going to get out.

    HORN: The family also bring up the fact that they never smelled burning flesh. But Lewis explains that no one would have been standing downwind from a fully involved fire. [And according to witnesses, it was a very windy night.]

    [About the Fire Department not arriving until the next morning.]

    HORN: It wouldn’t have mattered even if they had arrived. Sterling Lewis, West Virginia State Fire Marshall.

    STERLING LEWIS: Let’s just say it takes a ten minute drive from the firehouse to the fire, there were no such things as our self contained breathing apparatus, there would have been no entry into that house by a firefighter. So therefore there would have been no rescue. [However, every fire professional I spoke to said they still would have shown up, regardless. Not one of them were trying to excuse Morris. I want to be clear about that.]

    HORN: Finally, the one fact that everyone comes back to: little remains were found the next day. And what little was found was internal organs and that just seems, well, weird. [The family was never told that any remains were found, but the State Fire Marshall interviewed everyone who was on site the next morning and four people reported seeing remains, including one of Jennie Sodder's brothers and a local priest. Whether or not they were being truthful, I cannot say.]

    STERLING LEWIS: In a fire, when the rest of the body is absolutely almost destroyed, whatever would be left of entrails a lot of times will turn just a beautiful shade of red. And that’s what we look for because then your black and your grays of all the char and everything, this red it jumps out at you.

    HORN: All the experts the family consulted agree that more remains would have been found from a fire that only burned for 45 minutes before the roof fell into the basement. But the fire didn’t burn for 45 minutes. It burned all night long and into the next morning. When the fire department did finally appear it was still hot and they had to water the site down before conducting their search. Further, two hours is not even close to a thorough search. Today the search would take days and possibly weeks.

    [It wasn't that the remains were not there, necessarily, but they might have been missed by people who weren't professionals, and who didn't search for very long. The search that took place in 1949 sounded even less methodical. At this point, any remains would have been buried under four or five feet of dirt for four years, and a real search would need to be even more painstaking and would take even longer, now we're talking months.]

    The scene was not roped off and guarded, while they weren’t searching. That would never happen today. And because George Sodder bulldozed dirt into it, the scene is was contaminated.

    SGT. MIKE SPRADLIN: … the authorities had know way of knowing if it had been dug and bones planted or bones taken out.

    [The family says George filled in the basement because he felt no one was ever coming back. I can totally see him doing this out of grief and frustration. It is understandable.]

    HORN: The family held onto a statement made by Ida Crutchfield, who ran a small hotel in Charleston, West Virginia. In 1952, seven years after the fire, she claimed she saw the children a week after the fire. She’d never met the Sodder children, she had only seen their pictures in the paper two years after the fire. Not a credible witness.

    SGT. SPRADLIN: For them to be carried out of that house and held against their will for that many years is implausible, because they could have easily escaped their captors. They’ve grown up, had children of their own, and for them never to try to contact the family is just, I just don’t buy that. From my reviewing of the report there was really no stone left unturned, they tried to find those children if they existed and it was just those children were never located.

    BRAGG: There was a guy that committed a theft while the house was burning, he was stealing from one of their out buildings while they were trying to save their children. Now what kind of person would do that? That is just absolutely … that adds to the mystery of this story 100 percent. It’s just crazy to me.

    HORN: But it’s not likely that someone would kidnap the children and then come back and steal some block and tackle, the objects that he confessed to taking. He also said he cut the phone wires, that were indeed cut that night. No one believed him because the phone wires were cut at the top of the phone pole. But that might explain why on the night of the fire, George Sodder never found the ladder that was always leaning at the side of the house. It was used to cut the wires.

    HORN: The police also never adequately investigated a man who made threats to the Sodder family before the fire, and who stood to gain financially, from the fire.

    [This is Janutolo. But this points to possible arson, not kidnapping, and that's one area I still have to investigate. From what I was told about him, he was not in need of money, was liked and respected in the community.]

    HORN: But even George Bragg, who researched this case and who doesn’t believe the children died in the fire, concedes that some parts of the story indicates that they did. In the police report, the Sodder’s oldest son John said he woke the children.

    BRAGG: It has been my experience when dealing with police reports and interviews after something like this happens, the first response by the person you are talking to is usually the most truthful, and that was his very first response. He told the state police that he walked into the room and shook the children and told them to come on downstairs, and to me that’s the one thing that I cannot understand. That would indicate that those children were in that bedroom.

    HORN: The family believes John said that because he felt that was what he should have done. Perhaps he was not the only questioning his actions.

    SPRADLIN: Survivor guilt plays into it. The adults get out of the house and the children don’t … I’d always be second guessing myself, maybe I could have done more and more and more … I’d want to believe that someone else was responsible and those children were alive and being held somewhere …

    STEVE CROOKSHANKS: I’ve rarely seen a family that had a tragedy like that that did not want to believe, it’s a psychological thing, you want to believe that something caused this to happen. This just couldn’t have been a natural event.

    SPRADLIN: It’s similar to suicides … it’s a suicide until a year and a half afterwards, then to the family’s way of looking at it it turns unto a murder … even though they may agree with it for the first year and a half, two years, then all of sudden it hard for them to accept those type of situations.

    Those are the cuts I thought people who follow the case might be interested in.

    There were all sorts of things I was able to find out that I didn’t use because I knew in the end that the piece had to be 8 minutes.. I’m trying to remember now. The caller who made the wrong number was found by the police and questioned. She was just a neighbor who made a wrong number.

    The guy who stole the block and tackle was arrested and paid a fine.

    About John Sodder shaking his brothers and sisters. It’s perhaps meaningful that John was the one child who never wanted to talk about the fire, and thought they should just let it die.

    The fire wasn’t aggressively investigated at first because everyone was satisfied that they died in the fire. Once it became clear that the family thought the children were still alive, the State Police and the Fire Marshall did investigate. Every theory that was brought forth that could be investigated was investigated, as was every lead, except at this point I can’t tell if they thoroughly investigated Janutolo. They may have, but I haven’t confirmed it yet. But the Sodder family didn’t make a lot of noise about Janutolo, and since they didn’t hesitate to make their objections known, that seems to indicate they too were satisfied that either Janutolo was not involved or that he was satisfactorily investigated. But still, he was the one person who had a motive (for arson, not kidnapping) and his name should have been all over the files and it wasn’t.

    The cut phone wires were never adequately explained. It’s not that they didn’t try, but short of an eye witness, there was no way to know what happened. But it’s another fact that points to a possible crime.

    I also found that according to the police and FBI records, at one point the Sodders thought one of Jennie’s brothers had the children in Florida and her own relatives were investigated, and they had to prove their children were their own. (Given that law enforcement professionals agree that if the children were removed from the house that night, either family or friends or relatives of the family were involved, it makes some sense.)

    Fire Chief Morris was the one who was told to take care of the remains that were found on Christmas morning. I question the judgement of the fire marshall about leaving something so important in the hands of a volunteer, but I think Morris’s story about reverently burying the remains was possibly a story he made up to cover up the fact that he threw the remains away or just left them there. Then, when George Sodder asked him to show him where he buried them, Morris buried the beef liver so that there’d be something to dig up.

    No physical evidence survives to this day, and the scene of the fire was contaminated (as dramatically demonstrated at the 1949 dig) when Mr. Sodder bulldozed the site, so I’m not sure what an excavation would accomplish today, although it couldn’t hurt, I guess. But, as Spradlin points out, since anyone could have removed the bones, or put bones in, it’s not likely to resolve anything one way or another. If the family wants to pursue this option, Spradlin explained, they would need to speak to the prosecutor’s office, although it might be hard to convince them to proceed since the site is contaminated. Again, I personally understand Mr. Sodder’s actions, I do not mean to sound critical, but nonetheless, it did contaminate the scene. (A lawyer could advise them here.)

    Most of the people I wanted to talk to are no longer with us, so there is still no way to definitively say what happened that night. People can and probably will going on believing whatever they want.

    I want to stress that although I believe the children died that night, I have no way of knowing what really happened. I am sorry if bringing up any of these new facts is hurtful. I could be absolutely wrong wrong wrong, and I am open to people pointing out where I am wrong.

    My blog has a comment section, so if anyone, and especially members of the family, want to contest anything I have said, or simply respond, please feel free to do so. The new facts are open to interpretation, and my way of looking at them is only my opinion. As I’ve said before, the facts will not add up the same way for everyone.

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    So what do we all think of this?

  2. #2
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    I have read everything that has been documented here at WS and I too believe now that the children died in the fire. It is the most logical and likely scenario.

    I do think that a new excavation could turn up evidence of their deaths. It doesn't really matter if the scene is contaminated because if any remains are found they could be eliminated as family members and disregarded. The only evidence that would matter would be remains that share DNA with the living members of the family. It would likely be impossible to prove arson or murder at this point but it would be easy to prove what remains, if any, belong to the children. If even one bone or tooth of each child is found then it would put this case to rest. Modern equipment has to be able to conduct a more thorough excavation at this point.
    "The opinion prevailed among advanced minds that it was time that belief should be replaced increasingly by knowledge; belief that did not itself rest on knowledge was superstition, and as such had to be opposed." - Albert Einstein

  3. #3
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    I have had knowledge of this case for years partly from growing up about 30 miles from where it happened, partly from having relatives in law enforcement from Fayette County, and partly from my own interest.

    After nearly 45 ears of hearing about the case, reading different articles, visiting the site, and actually seeing a copy of several police and fire marshall's office reports, you can fix it in your mind that it happened only one way. then you can read a little more, and find some other fact connected with the case, and that causes you to reverse what you had just established in your mind. It happens a lot to me anyway.

    A couple of points after reading this thread (And be patient with me Im new to this forum)

    BRAGG: There was a guy that committed a theft while the house was burning, he was stealing from one of their out buildings while they were trying to save their children. Now what kind of person would do that? That is just absolutely … that adds to the mystery of this story 100 percent. It’s just crazy to me.
    HORN: But it’s not likely that someone would kidnap the children and then come back and steal some block and tackle, the objects that he confessed to taking. He also said he cut the phone wires, that were indeed cut that night. No one believed him because the phone wires were cut at the top of the phone pole. But that might explain why on the night of the fire, George Sodder never found the ladder that was always leaning at the side of the house. It was used to cut the wires.

    From the reading I've done and with the documents I have, the guy(s) who "stole the block and tackle", (Yes, there were actually two of them there that night, named Lonnie Johnson and Dave Adkins. They owned, or operated a beer joint, as my mother used to call them, near the scene of the fire) After the fire, Mr. Sodder procured arrest warrants for these two men and Johnson was apprehended by local authorities. He plead guilty and paid a $25 fine and was released. Adkins never appeared in court. He joined the army to avoid prosecution and was gone from the area for about two years. (Has to be a record of this court proceeding somewhere)

    Johnson actually testified at the Coroner's inquest that he cut the phone lines with a pair of pliers. BUT nothing I can find tells first, why he was there, why he cut the lines, and why he had a taxi cab waiting for him (This is from Marion Sodder's account from 1968). There seems to be no doubt that there was a taxi cab there that night, but its origin is in question.

    There is also a story stating that several girls who were at a local bar (The Grass Park) upon hearing about the fire, ordered a taxi and had it take them to the site to watch the fire. From the Fire Marshall's report, these girls may have been Peggy Price and Virginia Beasley Bucklin, who may have been accompanied by Everet Bucklin and Lester Cook. Another version of this part of the report states that these four people were on their way home from the Grass Park beer joint and stopped to watch the fire. This may explain why a taxi was seen, these four people, possible intoxicated, chose to take a taxi rather than drive themselves. (The same report also states these girls had once stated that they actually saw a child appear in one of the upstairs windows during the fire,)


    The fire wasn’t aggressively investigated at first because everyone was satisfied that they died in the fire. Once it became clear that the family thought the children were still alive, the State Police and the Fire Marshall did investigate. Every theory that was brought forth that could be investigated was investigated, as was every lead, except at this point I can’t tell if they thoroughly investigated Janutolo. They may have, but I haven’t confirmed it yet. But the Sodder family didn’t make a lot of noise about Janutolo, and since they didn’t hesitate to make their objections known, that seems to indicate they too were satisfied that either Janutolo was not involved or that he was satisfactorily investigated. But still, he was the one person who had a motive (for arson, not kidnapping) and his name should have been all over the files and it wasn’t.


    In terms of the threats made by Janutolo and others concerning the Sodders house burning down, if you read the Fire Marshalls report concerning this man, here is how he was involved.

    " Mr Sodder was formerly employed by Frienzo (or possibly Fiorenzo) Janutolo of Fayetteville, W.Va. who was a lumber dealer and road contractor there. They severed relations in 1943 and Mr. Sodder went into the trucking business, road contracting, and coal stripping business for himself."

    "At this time, Mr. Janutolo was co-signer on a note for the Sodders payable at the Bank of Fayetteville. Sodder carried $1,500.00 insurance on the property with a mortgage clause payable to Janutolo. It is alleged that Mr. janutolo had the insurance increases to $1,750.00 without consulting Mr. and Mrs. Sodder. The insurance company paid the $1,750.00."

    "About sixty (60) days before the fire, Mr. Janutolo is alleged to have requested that Mr. Russell Long, and Insurance agent in Fayetteville, W.Va., contact Mr. and Mrs. Sodder and write insurance on their lives and the lives of their children. The Sodders refused to buy any insurance at this time."

    "It is alleged that Mr. Janutolo, shortly after they refused to purchase insurance, went to them and made the following remarks: "I see you have refused to take out insurance and refuse to sign the papers to settle Mrs. Sodder's fathers estate. Your Goddam house is going up in smoke and your children or going to be destroyed." Also that "you are going to be paid for the dirty remarks you have been making about Mussolini."

    "An inquest was held on December 26, 1950 before H.C. Level, Justice of the Peace in Fayette County, W.Va.. Mr Janutolo was foreman of this cornors jury. Mr. Janutolo reported to the Squire that no parts of the the five (5) missing children were found in the debris."

    Much more information is in this report but my fingers are tired of typing.


    I read either in Stacy's blog or another report that it appear that Janutolo was a well respected member of the community and did not need money. if this is true, why would he be, basically demanding, the Sodders increase the insurance clause on their house (that Janutolo was a co-signer)? Which, by the way, he was successful in getting increased and was eventually paid $1,750. and why was he demanding that the Sodders settle Mrs. Sodders father's estate?

    Also, the extra insurance he wanted the Sodders to buy was apparently on top of the existing insurance policy on the house itself. it was life insurance on the lives of the Sodders and their children.

    More later.

  4. #4
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    Hi Bob1959, and welcome to WS. Good first post.

  5. #5
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    Another thing about Janutolo and a connection to the Fayetteville Fire Department. The fire chief, Forest Judson Morris, who’s questionable actions could fill a book, actually worked for Janutolo’s lumber company as a book keeper at the time of the fire. He is listed in the County’s 1940 census records as a book keeper for a lumber company.
    Also, one of the private investigators hired by the Sodders said that a letter was left for him at his office claiming the bones found in the fire were placed there and taken from another grave. (Read George Bragg’s book on this. He publishes the actual content of the note.)
    This note also directs the investigator(s) to a man who's name is called out as “the one who was in charge of the fire truck that night”(I’m not naming his name here (yet) because there is some confusion between the subject letter and the actual Fire Marshall’s report who also names a man who the same first name. The note says this man “knows all about the fire”
    (Fire Chief Morris latter claimed the reason he didn’t respond right away when he was called was the fact that he could not drive the fire truck and had to wait for someone who could. He also made the claim that the weather was too bad and they couldn’t take the truck out, although it is known that people were driving by that night on Route 16, several of which stopped to watch the fire or who drove somewhere to use the phone to call for help. Also, a bus driver drove by the fire and later reported that he saw “fire balls being rolled onto the roof of the Sodder’s house”)
    A summary of the questionable actions by the fire chief that night:
    When finally contacted by Thomas Smith on the night of the fire, according to a report from C.A. Raper of the State Fire Marshall’s office, Chief F.J. Morris (Forrest Judson Morris),was told about the fire and responded “We know about it”. Then when asked if they (the fire department) was going to respond, Morris answered, “we don’t know”, then Smith told Morris “there were children trapped and burning in the fire” C.A. Raper’s report states “Mr. Morris did not make a reply”.
    Again according to the same report, “the Fayetteville Fire Department apparatus arrived at approximately 8:00 A.M. Fire Chief F.J. Morris accompanied by Arnold Dempsey and James Roles, members of the department, applied water and cooled the debris”
    While directing the initial excavation the morning after the fire, he is reported to have “disgusted” the volunteer searchers and caused many of them to quit because of “his attitude” and by “nagging at them and ordering them around”.
    Within two hours of the arrival of the Fire Dept., Chief Morris reports to the Sodder’s, who I believe by that time were at Mrs. Sodder’s sisters house, that there are no human remains in the fire. Suggests to Mr. Sodder that he take a part of the ashes, put them in a box, and bury them on the site.
    Later, it is rumored that the Chief tells others in the Town that he did find remains. Again, according to Fire Marshall C.A. Rapers summary report as follows:
    “The Sodders, although not thoroughly satisfied about the searchers inability to locate any part of the children, became reconciled until about the middle of 1947. Reverend James F. Frame, Baptist Minister of Fayetteville had heard that Mr. Morris had told some people he had found a heart in the debris.
    “Reverend Frame talked to Chief Morris and told him “the human heart would resist fire”. Morris told him that he had buried the heart in the debris and Rev. Frame told the Sodder family.”
    “Mrs. Sodder called chief Morris and asked him to come to the scene and show them where he had buried the heart. He did not appear for some time. Sodder again called him and he told her that he had been to the scene and placed a stake in the ground where the box containing the heart was buried. (The Sodder home is only about 150 feet from the scene of the fire and Morris did not visit the Sodders or discuss the matter at this time.”
    “After this incident, Mrs’ Sodder called Chief Morris again and he went to the Sodder home. Mr. and Mrs. Sodder asked him why he had not told them before that he had found parts of their children when he had told them on the day of the fire that he was unable to find anything. He replied, “I thought I told you, but maybe I didn’t”.”
    (Chief Morris later stated he found the liver sometime in the evening of the fire.)
    “On the following day, which was about the first day of July, 1947, George Sodder, Sr., C.C. Tinsley, Private Detective, Gauley Bridge, W.Va., O.C. Tinsley(Oscar Cole Tinsley), his Brother, and employees of Mr. Sodders, dug up a box from the place previously located by Chief Morris.”
    “Chief Morris was present when the digging was being done and by his direction, a box (dynamite and cartridge box) was found under a piece of tin roofing at the bottom of the basement. The box was well preserved and identified by Mr. Morris as the box containing the heart or what he had found in the debris and in the same position and general condition as it was when he placed it there.”
    “When the box was removed, Chief Morris demanded a receipt and was given a receipt by Mr. C.C. Tinsley in the presence of George Sodder, Sr. and others.”
    The box was later determined to contain a beef liver that had obviously not been exposed to fire.
    “He (Chief Morris) admits that he did not tell the Sodder family, acting coroner, Assistant Prosecuting Attorney or any other official about what he had found. He now states that the mass in the box is the only thing found by him of similar or like character or that may have been any parts of the missing children.”
    One of the most interesting parts of the Fire Marshall’s report is the following statement:
    “Mr. Morris cannot or will not offer any explanation for his peculiar and apparently secret handling of the matter in not reporting and presenting to the proper persons and authorities and things he may have found in the debris such as has been described. Representatives of this office (State Fire Marshall), an Assistant Prosecuting Attorney, State Police and other officials were present on the site throughout the day and none were informed of the mass he allegedly found and replaced in the debris”
    “He (Chief Morris) states that he was present at the coroner’s inquest and did not make any mention of what he had found, stated in any way of explanation that he was not questioned.”
    (In other words he is saying he didn’t say anything because he wasn’t asked)
    As noted before, this is the coroner’s inquest at which Janutolo was the jury foreman. Mrs. Sodders Brother, Jimmy Cipriani also stated that the first he knew of the fire was when Janutolo called him at his house in Montgomery and told him about it.
    A note included in the Fire Marshall’s report states:
    “Note: the box and mass could have been placed in the ruins where it was found anytime between Tuesday and Saturday before the basement was filled”
    The Fire Marshall’s report summarizes by stating:
    “The peculiar actions of Mr. Morris has not been explained.”

    Also, I found a picture of the fire chief on Ancestry.com, as well as other documents relating to him. Also on this site, there is a listing of his children and wife. I thought of contacting them to see if he ever gave any kind of explanation for his actions and inactions from that night, the next day, the coroners inquest, etc. But I didn’t’. it would be hard to contact the children or grandchildren and basically ask if their father or grandfather ever admitted complicity in an arson, kidnapping, or murder.

  6. #6
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    Can anyone give details as to the sleeping arrangements for the upstairs bedrooms in the Sodder house? I thought I read where there were at least two bedrooms one for boys and one for girls. if this is true, then the two boys who made it out, and were sleeping upstairs (John and Ted), would they have not see the other two boys if they were sleeping in the same room? Just speculation.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bob1959 View Post
    Can anyone give details as to the sleeping arrangements for the upstairs bedrooms in the Sodder house? I thought I read where there were at least two bedrooms one for boys and one for girls. if this is true, then the two boys who made it out, and were sleeping upstairs (John and Ted), would they have not see the other two boys if they were sleeping in the same room? Just speculation.
    First article: http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~wv...Childrenb.html

    Second article: http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~wv...Childrena.html

    I haven't read all of either article yet, but the second one (both written in 1968) says that 4 boys and 4 girls slept in the attic. They called it an attic, not the second story or upstairs bedrooms. The three year old daughter slept with her parents. It doesn't give any info on how the rooms were divided or anything like that.

    The article also states that the roof was tar and wood. (They believe something flammable was thrown on the roof) The two boys who had already gone to bed up there came downstairs with singed hair, so the tar/wood rof combination must have really made the fire burn and spread quickly.

  8. #8
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    I have a report that also states that in the debris the next morning the were sheets of TIN roofing. and under one of those sheets fire chief Morris buried the "human Heart" he claimed to have found. made me wonder what the roof was made of.

  9. #9
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    I re-read the articles I linked to and just now realized that they are one article, separated into two links. The article begins at the second link, you click on "next page" to read the rest of the article.

    Sorry I goofed that all up.

    I wonder if the tin roofing you read about was material covering the porch or something like that so it still ended up in the debris after the fire. It seems like if the whole house was roofed with tin, it would take a lot longer for something thrown onto the roof to finally ignite the house.

    I would assume that a man who owned his own business and seemed to be doing well, like Mr. Sodder, would have his whole house roofed with the non-flammable tin. I wonder which reports of the roofing material are correct...

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2013
    Location
    South Charleston, WV
    Posts
    52
    I have now found an article from a detective magazine from the 60's that states that the roof of the house was half tin and half regular tar paper and asphalt shingles. this article was posrted the grand-daughter of George Sodder in one of the original threads.


  11. #11
    Join Date
    May 2014
    Posts
    2
    Having read all (I hope) of what has been posted within this forum on this event, I feel that the following reasonable assertions can be reached:

    1. It is reasonably likely, given all that we know, that the children died in the fire, and that their bodies were destroyed by the fire to the extent that they could not be found. It is also possible that the search of the scene of the fire was not extensive and/or well carried out enough, resulting in the bodies not being found.

    2. There is the possibility that some parts of human bodies were found, and that the family claimed they were not told this during the time of the initial investigations. This possibility has been mentioned in this very thread by Laura_Bean and Bob1959.

    3. The likelihood of five children of different ages being kidnapped at once is not very high, and possibly would require the work of at least two or three men to handle them physically (unless they were threatened by one man with a weapon, such as a gun). How are we to believe that, however, that while the house was being burnt down, the alleged kidnappers managed to kidnap the children? Or would they have been kidnapped BEFORE the fire, and the fire used as a distraction? But, if so, how did nobody in the house realise that FIVE people were being kidnapped. Also, once they were kidnapped, what happened to them?

    3. Regarding the photo of Betty Sodders which George Sodders allegedly saw in LOOK magazine, although an extensive search has been carried out to locate this photo (both in various editions of LOOK magazine [including the one mentioned by George himself, in the letter he wrote], and in other magazines), it has never been found. This leads one to suspect that no such photo ever existed. The question to be posed here is why did Mr Sodders say he saw this photo, if it never existed? I can find no completely satisfying answer. Why would he make up going to New York and being stopped from seeing the child in the photograph? We don't know - but the evidence we do have (or rather, the lack of evidence) points to the likely possibility that there was never such a photo. I doubt Mr Sodders would get the date AND name of the magazine wrong in the letter.

    4. Even if the photo did exist (and somehow, however impossible it may seem, it has 'disappeared'), the chances of the girl in such a photo being Betty Sodders are rather slight. If somebody had committed this crime, do you think they would just allow the abducted child to be photographed for a widely-read magazine? Of course, it is possible that the person responsible for this child did not know that a photo would be taken, or that it would be published in a magazine.

    5. There is a rather good possibility that a crime did take place - that of arson. The telephone wire being cut is a fact. This has never been explained. Fiorenzo Janutolo (his name was Fiorenzo, as evidenced here: http://www.ancientfaces.com/person/f...utolo/30276723 - he died in 1966) may or may not have been involved. Apparently the Sodders didn't press for his investigation, and he was never investigated in depth. Bob1959 reported that Janutolo may have threatened Mr Sodders that he would burn his house. We of course have no proof of this. Alternatively, Janutolo may have had no connection with any of this, but a crime may still have taken place. The evidence for this, however, is scant. We know that Mr Sodders may have had some enemies, and we know that a bus driver saw flaming material being thrown on the roof of the family's house.

    If anybody is still interested in discussing this, I would like to read any input on the above.

  12. #12
    http://blogs.warwick.ac.uk/michaelwa...hino_visconti/

    If you scroll down on this link, you will see a photo of a group of ballerina's. The dark haired girl to the right I 'believe' was the photo Mr. Sodder spoke of. It was on this forum but I do not know where it is now.
    Although, I am now confused too...as to who took this photo. Michael Walford?

    http://blogs.warwick.ac.uk/images/mi...llissima_7.jpg
    Anna Christian Waters Web Page
    www.searchingforanna.com

    Anna Christian Water's WS Forum
    www.websleuths.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?f=104

    Search FB: Anna Christian Waters
    https://www.facebook.com/groups/annachristianwaters/

  13. #13
    Case related Photos - Websleuths Crime Sleuthing Community

    Suspected Betty.

    Duh.... it was on the case related photo page.
    Anna Christian Waters Web Page
    www.searchingforanna.com

    Anna Christian Water's WS Forum
    www.websleuths.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?f=104

    Search FB: Anna Christian Waters
    https://www.facebook.com/groups/annachristianwaters/

  14. #14
    Join Date
    May 2014
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    2
    Betty is not in that photo. Her granddaughter, who contributed to a few of the discussions on the Sodder family on WebSleuths, showed the photo to her mother (Betty's sister) who said the girl in the picture was not Betty.

    To be honest, I can't really comprehend how some people on this forum got to even think that could be Betty, just because they noticed a similarity in appearance. The photo is actually a still from a film called "Bellissima", made in 1951. This is the website from where a contributor to this forum had gotten the photo: https://blogs.warwick.ac.uk/michaelw...hino_visconti/.

    The person who said one of the girls in that photo was Betty basically just searched Google for "ballet photos" and specified some date in the 1940s, found one photo, saw a girl she thought resembled Betty, and came to the conclusion that it actually was Betty. I don't think that was very good detective work.

    Quote Originally Posted by SideKick View Post
    Case related Photos - Websleuths Crime Sleuthing Community

    Suspected Betty.

    Duh.... it was on the case related photo page.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Posts
    144
    Nice work all
    I have always thought they all died that night
    Nothing else makes sense

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