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  1. #31
    I started looking around last night. The oldest daughter died LAST WEEK. She died on September, 13th. From the obituary I learned that there are two surviving brothers in the area (who I plan to contact). The father died the summer after the 1968 article that was posted in this thread. The mother died as well, but I don't have a date yet.

    I contacted someone who particpated in the RootsWeb discussion, who had more information, and he is getting back to me. He's a Dean Emeritus and a former Professor at the University of Dayton who got hooked, so I'm hoping he has some good stuff!

  2. #32
    I meant to say, AmateurSleuth got his information from a book. "West Virginia Unsolved Murders" is a book by George and Melody Bragg.

  3. #33
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Location
    The South, USA
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    2,405
    I can see that this will be one of those cases that will haunt me . . .


    Is Sodder a fairly common name in that area? I found this obit -- didn't know if any of those Sodders were from the same family.

    http://www.wvgazettemail.com/section...ies/2005-09-13

    The obit was for Mary Ann Crowder, whose parents were George and Jennie Sodder, and who had brothers called John F. and Michael Sodder.

  4. #34
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    orange county, ny
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    2,380
    The billboard pictured in articles from the '50s and '60s are not the same as I remember. I remember the billboard having the faces painted along the left side of the billboard. Is it possible someone updated the billboard in the early '70s? (Or, of course, my rememberer is malfunctioning again). I know the sheriff was adamant that the children were completely consumed in the fire.
    Stacy-Shadow205 lives in the area, and was talking of travelling through the town for updated information. You might try PMing her to see if she ever did.

    quoting Mr. E (that was a great, if short-lived comic, BTW!)--Is Sodder a fairly common name in that area? I found this obit -- didn't know if any of those Sodders were from the same family.
    It wasn't all that uncommon...There are a few coal mines still bearing that name, as well as a trucking co. in the area. I believe the family stayed in the business. As I've pointed out, though, George was an immigrant from Italy, I assume he had changed his name upon arriving in the US.

  5. #35
    Mr. E, that's the obituary I found! That's them.

    I am now offically hooked. I have to write about this. I'm going to see if I can interest someone in this story. This is the kind of thing that drew me to writing The Restless Sleep -- the enduring effects of answered death.

  6. #36
    I just "PMed" Shadow205. Thank you for the suggestion!

  7. #37
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    orange county, ny
    Posts
    2,380
    I don't know that it would serve as an inspiration, but that area of WV is quite beautiful, especially in the fall. The billboard was close to the town of Hawks Nest, with an amazing view of the New River. The New River Gorge Bridge is also worth a visit. I'm sure there are locals who can give you first-or second-hand accounts of what occured. (No, I don't work for the WV Bureau of Tourism!!!)

  8. #38
    I'm not making this up but I have always wanted to take a raft trip down the New River (and another called the Gauley, I think it is). I have a pile of brochures. It's one of those things that I hope to do before I die. I went to school briefly, in Ohio, and I had to pass through West Virginia, and I thought some of what I saw was some of the most beautiful places I had ever seen. And some were incredibly sad (mining remnants).

  9. #39
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    orange county, ny
    Posts
    2,380
    I was born and raised in WV, my family had been there a billion years or so....

    There are few cases from there that boggle the mind. My parents had a close friend who lived in a very rural location in Roane Co. He was discovered dead on his front lawn in the mid-'70s. He had been shot, and a rifle belonging to him was found on the front porch. The bullet had entered his lower back, travelled upward through his body and exited out his chest. The best way to visualize it is to imagine the man on all fours, facing way from the house, and someone on the porch firing downward at an angle at the man. He also had various bruises and cuts on the upper portion of his body.
    The death was ruled a suicide.

    I'm glad I brought the Sodder case up again, by the way.

  10. #40
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    WV
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    3,642
    Quote Originally Posted by Stacy Horn
    I'm not making this up but I have always wanted to take a raft trip down the New River (and another called the Gauley, I think it is). I have a pile of brochures. It's one of those things that I hope to do before I die. I went to school briefly, in Ohio, and I had to pass through West Virginia, and I thought some of what I saw was some of the most beautiful places I had ever seen. And some were incredibly sad (mining remnants).
    Stacy,

    Well this would be a perfect time to do that rafting. The location where the "Sodder Mystery" took place is less than 20 miles from the greatest rafting in the north east. I am looking for the information that I have on the case and will email you when I find it.
    Retired 08/03/03


  11. #41
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    WV
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    3,642
    Quote Originally Posted by Stacy Horn
    Mr. E, that's the obituary I found! That's them.

    I am now offically hooked. I have to write about this. I'm going to see if I can interest someone in this story. This is the kind of thing that drew me to writing The Restless Sleep -- the enduring effects of answered death.
    I just read the obit for Mary Ann Crowder. I find it strange that there is no mention of her siblings who supposedly perished in the fire.

    <snip>

    She was preceded in death by her husband, John Robert “Bob” Crowder; parents, George and Jennie Sodder; and two brothers, John F. and Michael Sodder.

    <snip>

    Survivors include her brothers and their wives, Joe and Louise Sodder of Fayetteville and George “Ted” Jr. and Elsie Sodder of Falls View; one sister and her husband, Sylvia and Grover Paxton of St. Albans; sister-in-law, Margaret Sodder of Fayetteville; and several nieces and nephews.
    Retired 08/03/03

  12. #42
    Shadow205, thank you so much for anything you can find and share! That's so nice of you. Everyone I talk to about this is instantly hooked. There's something about this case. I guess because it involves so many children, and the mystery was never solved, and even though I never saw it, the image of that handmade billboard up for decades, is haunting. It's just such a sad and unanswered tragedy.

  13. #43
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    WV
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    3,642
    Quote Originally Posted by Stacy Horn
    Shadow205, thank you so much for anything you can find and share! That's so nice of you. Everyone I talk to about this is instantly hooked. There's something about this case. I guess because it involves so many children, and the mystery was never solved, and even though I never saw it, the image of that handmade billboard up for decades, is haunting. It's just such a sad and unanswered tragedy.
    Stacy, click on this link to see a picture of the billboard http://www.rootsweb.com/%7Ewvrcbiog/...Childrenb.html
    Retired 08/03/03

  14. #44
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    Apr 2005
    Location
    orange county, ny
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    Any ideas on what happened to the billboard? When it came down?

  15. #45
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    WV
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    Quote Originally Posted by shadowangel
    Any ideas on what happened to the billboard? When it came down?
    The property was sold after the mother's death in 1989. It stood for about 44 years. Such a sad and very strange case. I just found a name of a great-grandson of George & Jennie Sodder, looking for info on him now.
    Retired 08/03/03

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