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  1. #16
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    Apr 2005
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    orange county, ny
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    Great job!!!! This is such a disturbing and mysterious story....Five people just don't disappear!!! Strange, though, I don't remember the sign looking like that...maybe they did put up a new sign? I (kind of) remember the sign having the painted faces of the children down the left side...However, it was several years ago....

  2. #17
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    May 2005
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    175
    Quote Originally Posted by annemc2
    Wow- most excellent sleuthing, guys!! What a sad and interesting case. It sounds like these people were in a pretty rural area - what would make them the target of a kidnapping like this? Someone would have to know them and their habits very well. Strange.
    I agree, excellent to see that article! It's so sad for the parents, and I agree with them...it's just a little too odd not to recover the bones from the fire debris. But what would be the motive? Did the parents or older siblings have any enemies? Did any of the children have life insurance policies? I don't recall them saying so if they did.

  3. #18
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    Mar 2005
    Location
    bridgewater, nj
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    147
    The theory about how the fire started sounds plausible, but you guys are right...what would be the motive? Can you imagine if this happened in this day and age? What a CSI episode this story would make! My heart goes out to the parents, and the remaining siblings...i can't imagine their despair, living by tha sign every day as a reminder of their babies...I am sure there were many endless nights sleeping...i don't recall...did they ever rebuild? Move? I can't recall if i read that!


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

  4. #19
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    Feb 2005
    Location
    WV
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    3,642

    Do You Think That We Could Find Them?

    60 years ago.......where could they be?

  5. #20
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    Apr 2005
    Location
    orange county, ny
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    2,380
    Here's some random thoughts I'm going to throw out...The article mentions five children were missing. The two oldest boys made it out, as did the young girl who was with the mother. There were two younger boys, and three young girls...what about the older girl who brought the presents home?
    I'm sorta familiar with the military, and I have never heard of a device like that mentioned here. All grenades have always been made of metal, and the US military never produced a napalm grenade-only large bombs. Napalm was also used in flame throwers. Napalm devices use either white phosphorus or thermite (or thermate) to ignite the napalm, which burn at about 4000 degrees...I don't think a hollow rubber ball is going to survive! (The Us does use an icendiary grenade, which is metal and tubular-it basically ignites and burns in place. I've seen one burn through an auto engine block. I'll speak to a historian at the West Point Museum tomorrow just to be sure, though).
    The father was an immigrant from Italy-I don't think his real name is George Sodder. Pretty common for immigrants to "Americanize" their names back then, I'm told.
    Keep in mind, the coal fields were a battlefield from the turn of the century and still are to some degree today. Battles between the management and the unions resulted in many deaths (Google the Matewan Massacre for an example). If the father was involved in trucking around the mines, he was a definite target. Also, that area was not the most ethnically tolerant (I still know some folks with robes and hoods hanging in the closet). I'm not bashing WV, in my heart its still home, but facts is facts.
    The area is (or was) criss-crossed with rail systems (the tourist stop Hawks Nest overlooks a rail tunnel). If the kidnappers had the trust of the kids, due to the fire, they could have bundled them off to the train and disappeared-selling them into adoption for cheap labor.
    I wonder about that oldest daughter, though...

  6. #21
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    May 2005
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    175
    That's excellent input. I will look forward to hearing what the historian at West Point has to say. Is there any information on his trucking business? Does anyone know the names of the coal companies that he hauled for?

  7. #22
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    Apr 2005
    Location
    orange county, ny
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    Haven't heard from the museum, so I'll stop by over the weekend. All my military buddies are skeptical, though. Interestingly, there is a Sodder Coal Co listed on the WV mining website, working mines back into the 1800's. There is also a Sodder Trucking Co still active in the general area of the disappearances. Maybe the wife's family was in the business and the husband took her name when he married? (The article only lists him as an immigrant).

  8. #23
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    Apr 2005
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    orange county, ny
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    As suspected, no one has heard of any such device. As I understand it, the phones systems at that time in that area were all directed through a switchboard operator who would announce the call when the receiving party picked up-you could not directly ring into someone's home. Makes me wonder how the family got the call from the unidentifed woman.

  9. #24
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    May 2005
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    175
    I wonder that, too; and if she was only laughing it may have been that the person answering the phone at the Sodder's overheard another conversation...I know with party lines you could sometimes overhear other conversations faintly. Could the napalm grenade have been brought back from another country following the war? I guess that would be nearly impossible to ever verify. I was looking at the mining website you mentioned and saw where the Sodders (not sure if related) own several mines in Raleigh, Fayette, and Kanawha counties. If the men seen traveling through Fayetteville and Charleston with the kids were planning to kill the children and hide the bodies, it's possible I guess that they may have hidden them in an old mine that was not being used. I just don't understand what the motive would have been for that though. It would make more sense for them to have taken them to Italy (if relatives) or sold them etc. for personal gain. So sad to think such....

  10. #25
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    Apr 2005
    Location
    orange county, ny
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    Its all so bizarre....the police seeming to have little concern for five missing kids. This one night of all nights the kids are up by themselves, unsupervised. No further mention of the eldest daughter, who was the reason the kids were still up. A device supposedly found which could not exist (napalm was developed in late '42 by the US, and not used by anyone else during the war that I am aware of-and, as I said, rubber would be the LAST thing to make such a device from). Who knows what was going on in that house? Maybe someone thought they were saving the children? Maybe the mother had an inkling of what was about to occur, thus she keeps ONE of the children with her? Children being sold into adoption was, disturbingly, not unheard of in this area, especially in KY and TN just before WWII...However, a connection to the mines seems most likely. The song "16 Tons" isn't far off..."St Peter don't you call me, 'cause I can't go, I sold my soul to the company store"...The mining companies OWNED entire towns, and everything in them-including law enfocement. If the family was working a mine (or for a company) in competion to the local company...


  11. #26
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    Jul 2004
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    23,796
    George Sodder was a 50 yo Italian immigrant, who ran a small coal trucking business.
    When did he immigrate to the USA?
    OK, it is the end of the war. Could there have been ill will due to the fact that he was Italian? Could a returning vet who served in Italy area have been suffering from "shell shock or PTSD" and decided to retaliate? But could not bring himself to hurt the kids. Or a family member of a vet who was fighting in Italy.
    He owned a coal trucking business. Did he have employees? Could he have made a customer mad? Or made the coal company mad?
    If someone took the kids, they would have had to leave the area immediately.
    Kids would have seen the fire and would have been easy to convince that everyone was burned up in the fire.
    One other possibility. What was the toys the sister brought them? Could it have been imitation war toys? The balls of fire reminds me of Moltov cocktails. Could the boys have decided to make their own "grenades"? And then seeing the fire, gathered the girls together and run because they knew they would be in trouble?
    It was not unheard of for a 16 yo to get a job and be responsible for his family, so the 14 yo could have lied about his age and the circumstances of how his family ended up alone. If so they probably went to the nearest city.
    Just when I think that I have seen the most depraved things a human can do to another human, somebody posts a new story...........

    Why is it that when a custodial parent fails to provide for a child it is called neglect and is a criminal matter. But when a non custodial parent fails to provide it is called failure to support and is a civil matter?


    "Just when the caterpillar thought its world was over, it became a butterfly" ~ Michelle Knight

  12. #27
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    Jul 2004
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    Thinking about this overnight, I see several flaws in my theory.
    It would have taken a little bit of time for kids to absorb the fire and and come up with a plan on what to do. They would most likely have shouted for the other family members. There is no discussion from the Mother that she even heard the kids, and Moms listen for things like that even if unconciously (sp). Also a group of 5 kids that age traveling together would have been remembered, and probably commented on later.
    But this line of thinking brings up another question. Mom and the little girl and the father and 2 older bros. were asleep. Younger kids were up. The noise was enough to wake Mom up, but she doesn't mention hearing the kids. Shouldn't she have heard them? Things are bouncing on the roof, then there is smoke. Kids are curious and easily excitable.
    Were they already out of the house when the whatever got thrown on the roof?
    Just when I think that I have seen the most depraved things a human can do to another human, somebody posts a new story...........

    Why is it that when a custodial parent fails to provide for a child it is called neglect and is a criminal matter. But when a non custodial parent fails to provide it is called failure to support and is a civil matter?


    "Just when the caterpillar thought its world was over, it became a butterfly" ~ Michelle Knight

  13. #28
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Location
    WV
    Posts
    4

    Missing in WV

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

  14. #29
    I just read this thread. I have never been so instantly drawn to a case. i have nothing to add, but I want to find out more. Amazing story.

  15. #30
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    orange county, ny
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    2,380
    The billboard caught the attention and imagination of everyone who saw it. The whole story is just too bizarre to be fiction.

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

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