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  1. #46
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    Thumbs up

    Well, my grandmother always said if you are going to lie tell a good one. I tend to believe the woman from Charleston did believe she saw the children. If she were lying, why didn't she include Maurice and say she saw him, too? I think she remembered them because of their odd behavior. Wonder what she had to gain by telling this story. She couldn't prove it. The reports, if I am remembering correctly, said she was not a credible witness....she had nothing to gain because with no proof she couldn't collect the reward money.
    If I am remembering the article correctly, she was pretty adament about these being the children. I do believe she saw someone whom she did think were the Sodder children.

    I've always said someone came to the door the children knew and trusted-who better than Santa Claus.

    Maurice has alway been my biggest confusion on the subject.

  2. #47
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    Is it possible that Maurice was too difficult to control? That has always been my thought, as sad as it is....

  3. #48
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    Jan 2006
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    I am also curious about the floor plan of the home. It has been stated that there were 2 bedrooms in the attic or on the second story. The girls room was at the front and opened directly to the stairway and had no door. The boys room was to the back and there was a door so one would assume a wall between the rooms. There was a cellar or basement. Was it a full or partial? I would have to assume that it was a full basement based upon the statement that "All that remained of the home was a basement full of ashes". What was the basement constructed of? Mud floor with bricks, blocks, wood, or mud for walls? What was the actual home constructed of? We know that the roof was tar paper and wood, what about the rest of the structure? What were the walls made of? They didn't have drywall in those days and based upon most the homes in my area it was made of a mixture of cement, limestone, and horse hair. West Virginia is obviously different and why I asked. When it came to plastering in those days, most folks used what was handy. Maybe all the walls were made of wood and that would make sense too on why the house went up so fast. Hang on please, I do have somewhere that I am going with all this, I would just like some more details.

    Another tidbit mentioned that mom would put chicken and pork bones into her "wood" stove to see what they would look like, since no remains of her children were found. That basically brings me to another question. What were the primary heat source/s for this home back then? Did they soley rely upon wood to heat this home or did they use coal as the primary heat source and wood was used for cooking? Heat rises just like smoke, but I am curious because either/or source/s had to be stored somewhere. I would think that coal is far to hot to cook on and the wood stove was mentioned when mom was trying to destroy animal bones. In either case, that fuel had to be stored somewhere. The coal being in the basement and the wood stacked near the home for easy access.

    The home is on fire and smoke does what? It rises. So the girls room should be filled with smoke by the time mom awakes to the smoke. Mom is awakened by the smell of smoke and when she opens her bedroom door, the adjoining room was filled with flames. That is a lot of smoke and the smoke had where to go, but upstairs into the girls open bedroom.

    Now, does anyone know exactly how many beds were in each room? We know that baby Sylvia was still in a crib in mom and dad's room downstairs. What were the sleeping assignments for the others? Most of the kids were older and in our era, would be sleeping in their own beds, but in that time, were they still sharing beds? No Christmas tree was put up because Joe didn't make it home, so did the kids still believe in Santa, at their ages, in that era? They were staying up to hear about Santa's travels on the radio and playing with the toys Marian gave them. Marian fell asleep on the couch and that would free up a bed, if she had her own. That would give Maurice and Louis a place to sleep. Let's say that these 5 kids go upstairs and all go to sleep in the girls room. This is a happy family and they are all excited over Christmas and the gifts they will get in the morning. Who cares who sleeps with who. Now, they are all settled in for the night and are eventually overcame with the smoke from the fire in their sleep. Not uncommon from several internet searches. The majority of fire related deaths are due to the smoke and not the fire. As much as I hate to say it, we have 5 kids that may very well already be dead from the fumes and smoke, before the fire has even reached the room. The good part of that being, it happened while they were asleep and none the wiser of the horror yet to come. The smoke wakes up mom and when mom opens the door, the next room is filled with flames and being a great mom, she is screaming, no doubt to try and wake her kids up. Her screams finally awaken George Jr. and John and they had to open the door between their room and the girls room to gain access to the stairs to get outside. I am by no means an expert on firefighting, but lets try this scene. The boys open the door creating a flash fire. The house is on fire and once they open that door, the fire rushes for the fresh air to feed it. George Jr. and John barely escape with their lives.

    Now once the family is safe outside, they are all trying to save the remaining kids. The water is frozen solid, the vehicles won't start, and the ladder is no where to be found. There are no screams and in the back of my mind that would be because of death due to smoke inhalation. They didn't smell flesh burning. That thought I really don't care to think about, but if I had to, how much more would it really differ to any animal? I'm sorry, I don't mean to be disrespectful saying that. I just have so many thoughts running through my head right now and just trying to keep each thread together with my thoughts. I was born in 1965 and things at that time compared to when my folks were born, had changed an awful alot and even more so by the time I had my daughter in 1984.

    Was there any foul play noticed on the vehicles that wouldn't start that night? I am not familiar with the temps or living in the mountains where they lived, during this time frame. In my area in Ohio it's pretty flat and can get down right cold, so more details would be nice for that area.

    Just a few more ideas for those still thinking

  4. #49
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    Jul 2004
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    23,796
    Quote Originally Posted by drema
    Something that has not been mentioned: A taxi brought several folks to the fire from a local tavern. No one could ever found the taxi driver or what company it came from. [/b]This was probably where the rumor came about that the children watched the fire from a taxi.
    The fire dept. couldn't come until 7am the next morning, yet the customers from the local tavern made it out there?????
    Both of the women who claimed to have seen the children....I wonder if they are still living, or in their absence, I wonder if their children are still living? The reason I ask, is that a mystery of this magnitude would be passed around in family lore. There was no TV, very few sources of entertainment. Family stories tended to be told over and over, as well as stories from the neighborhood. I have relatives from Kentucky, and have noticed those relatives can give our whole family history from memory. As well as little tidbits from the family/neighborhood history. Her kids would have heard the story told countless times to neigbors, relatives. They also might remember if anyone put pressure on their mother to stifle the story. Also, I would wonder if the motel records were destroyed. Even if they were, there is a possibility that she might have saved that particular record, because of the associated mystery.
    I know their stories have supposedly been discredited, but the fire dept. was supposedly unable to come to the fire. Kinda makes me question official creditability.
    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

  5. #50
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    I can see your point.

    Here is the answers to some of your questions:
    The Sodder home was a frame dwelling. The inside partions were constructed partly of fireproof sheetrock. One half of the roof was composed of galvanized tin and the other of standard roofing paper.

    Your thoughts could be exactly right but how did John and George, Jr. excape without really knowing what was going on thru a smoke engulfed room? However, on the other side of the spectrum their eyebrows were singed when they hurried down the stairs.

    Mrs. Sodder stood at the bottom steps and yelled to the children. She never mentioned smoke flowing down the steps which would have been the case if the upstairs room was smoke filled.

    Another tidbid that caused the Sodders to be suspicious: A man said he saw something flying toward the house which looked like fireballs at 1:00 that morning. Seems strange he would tell a story like that. He was passing the house right about the time the house may have started burning

    However, your theory may be correct: when Mrs. Sodder went to the next room to investigate a sheet of flames were descenting from the corner of the ceiling.

    Mrs. Sodder had a electric stove, that is why there was two fuse boxes. However, she did have a wood stove also. Ice hung from the house. Perhaps the fuse boxes were located outside but like a car door, were frozen shut-thus the phone lines being cut by mistake.

    I do not know what the basement consisted of and have often wondered if Mr. Sodder kept gasoline in the basement. Also, both trucks would not start that night which was unusual. They always started according to Mr. Sodder.
    I will say that everything you have said has merit and could be exactly what happened. But on the other hand, where were the bones. While reading these posts I looked up an interview with a serial killer. He stated you had to stay with a body a long, long time to completely burn it up. And the smell, he said was sickening. I have always heard if you smelled a body burning you would never forget it because it was so horrible. However, the fire marshall stated that because of the high winds no one smelled flesh burning. Possible, but according to records their was a bunch of people there that night. No one smelled anything.

    Mr. Sodder was not only trying to prove the children were alive but he also was open to any evidence that the children did in fact die that night. The Sodders doubts grew from: the threat made previously, the man in the car who seems to be watching the house, the stranger who checked the fuse boxes, the strange behavior of the fire chief, no bones being found, the guests they had after the fire to check on the babies, the noise on the roof,
    the phone call, the trucks not starting, the ladder being moved, the telephone wires cut, officials saying it was an electrical fire when the lights were still burning in the house which made it impossible to be an electrical fire, the officials stating the next morning there was no evidence of arson, the fire chief saying the weather was too bad to come in the official report while people drove by the house, people stopped, and a crowd gathered. The fire department arrived at 9 a.m., the officials having an inquest there on the spot while others were digging through the ashes looking for bones, the fact that they were told right off with no bones as evidence, they died in the fire and more or less go on with your life. Another question you ask - about heating and cooking. I would assume the house was heated with stoves since when the phone ring Mrs. Sodder stated she checked the stoves. I lived in a home with a wood cooking stove, we also had an electric stove. Both wood and coal was used to cook with on the cooking stove.

    I move back and forth, too. I think that is why a dig of the land should be done. They say teeth of the last to go after a long period of time. Mr. and Mrs. Sodder stated on numerous occasions that they only wanted proof one way on the other and were open to evidence that the children did die in the fire.

    I hope this answers some of your questions and everybodies ideas of worth listening to. Your post was great!
    Last edited by drema; 01-29-2006 at 03:18 PM.

  6. #51
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    [QUOTE=mysteriew]
    Both of the women who claimed to have seen the children....I wonder if they are still living, or in their absence, I wonder if their children are still living? The reason I ask, is that a mystery of this magnitude would be passed around in family lore. There was no TV, very few sources of entertainment. Family stories tended to be told over and over, as well as stories from the neighborhood. I have relatives from Kentucky, and have noticed those relatives can give our whole family history from memory. As well as little tidbits from the family/neighborhood history. Her kids would have heard the story told countless times to neigbors, relatives. They also might remember if anyone put pressure on their mother to stifle the story. Also, I would wonder if the motel records were destroyed. Even if they were, there is a possibility that she might have saved that particular record, because of the associated mystery. [QUOTE=mysteriew]

    The motel operator's name in Charleston was Ida Crutchfield. She is not on social security death index-However, that doesn't prove anything since she may have gone by a middle name. There are Crutchfield's that still live in Charleston. Could not find anything on the Alderson Motel of Charleston. Probably long gone. It was harder back then to save copies of things since there were no copying machines like we have today. But I agree with you Mysterview, there still should be family or others she talked to if she did think these were the Sodder children even if she may not be alive today. Worth looking into.

    As for the trucks not starting and anyone looking into why-The Sodders accepted what was told to them at first, only after Sylvia found the device in the yard and Mrs. Sodder discussed it with Mr. Sodder and him telling her that he found the ladder down an enbankment 75 feet away, they then started discussing if the children did actually die in the fire.
    Last edited by drema; 01-29-2006 at 04:10 PM.

  7. #52
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    Oct 2005
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    drema....what great stuff you've posted!! I haven't gotten my mag yet, but it has been shipped - hopefully tomorrow!!

    Here are some of my "renewed" thoughts after looking through the new posts. I have always felt in my heart that Maurice was probably killed. I hate to post that, but a 15 year old boy used to farm work and manual labor could really put up a fight. I hope I'm 100% wrong on that one. I don't believe he was in the fire that night because of all the kids, he would have had the largest bones and would have been easier to locate some remains??


    Jbandy....I'm in Summersville and have a somewhat open schedule. I would love to help out with some of your research in Fayetteville. If you're interested, PM me and I'll give you my contact info so you can get in touch when you want to.

  8. #53
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    Feb 2005
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    WV
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    Drema,

    Just wondering if you got your mag yet and if so is there anything in it that we have not heard before?
    Retired 08/03/03

  9. #54
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    Oct 2005
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    Virginia West
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    Another reason for the door being left open other than the children leaving quickly would be that fire would spread faster if there was a door or window left open for the wind to fuel the fire.

    The taxi driver sure seemed strange. First, Fayetteville was a small town, so were surrounding areas except Charleston---was it planted there for someone to watch the outcome of the fire? According to the post, the taxi driver nor the taxi company were ever found. Seems it would be a perfect way to watch the fire, and even better when the people from the tavern wanted a ride to the site of the fire. There they could see first hand what was going on.

  10. #55
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shadow205
    Drema,

    Just wondering if you got your mag yet and if so is there anything in it that we have not heard before?
    Yes there are several more things.
    • At daybreak authorities began sifting the ashes. The Justice of the Peace of Oak Hill, served as acting coroner and had six local citizens assisting him. He quickly turn a verdict that the children died in the fire.
    • The state police arrived and make an inspection of the premises. They pointed to defective wiring as the cause of the fire. Here we go again about the wiring.
    • The procecuting attorney of Fayette County conducted an inquest and found nothing that pointed to arson. Does anyone know how long an arson investigation takes?
    • The fire department arrived at 9 a.m. and cooled the ashes. This was after the children were pronounced dead and no signs of arson were found.
    • The state fire marshall did not make his offical report since the state police arrived ahead of him and conducted a rather complete inquiry. The inquest was going on when he arrived.
    • Morticians arrived. Mr. Sodder was told that nothing had been found and the simple way to get on with the furnerals would be to pick up a handful of ashes for each of the five children and place the ashes in a box and bury them. Mr. Sodder refused.
    • Later in the day, a minister called a Fayetteville Mortician and stated that he thought they had found something.He went to the scene, raked the ashes in the basement and found nothing. However he did notice a No. 2 wash tube in the front yard which was filled partially with ashes. On the top of the ashes was an object that was covered with a coating of ash dust. When he touched it it was very soft, he believed it to be a liver, and was sure it had never been exposed to intense head. He left it because he was sure it was not the remains of the children. He raked for an hour and did not find a bone of any kind. Mrs. Sodder later stated there was no liver at the house at the time of the fire.
    As for the lady in Charleston being "adament" the children she saw were the Sodders she signed an affadavit that the children were at her hotel two or three days later.

    As I read more I will post. I would like to hear some ideas on why the childrens lives were saved if someone did plan to burn the house and kill the Sodders. Seems it would have been easier to have left the children there and
    let them all die in the fire than take the chance of keeping the children alive.
    This part doesn't make a lot of sense to me.....don't buy into the black market or slavery part. And why doesn't anyone come forward with any real information if this was a crime? Seems like after all these years someone would have let the story slip or would post on this website.
    Last edited by drema; 02-03-2006 at 10:37 PM.


  11. #56
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    Drema, that all depends on how much power the persons involved had, or in how scary they were. And you also have to think of the time period. This is a very old story, the persons who would have been adults then, aren't likely to be on the internet. LOL, wonder if we could get the kids of the fire chief on here, to tell what they remember? Again, in many cases family lore is all we are going to have to go on. But this is a story that likely would have been told over and over by persons in that neighborhood.
    I have thought about why it might have happened. The only motives I can come up with, are to get some type of revenge...... or to get the kids for some unknown purpose.
    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. #57
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    This one is my grandfather when he was 70, about 4 years before he died.

  13. #58
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    The last one is my grandmother at 64.


  14. #59
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    My parents have looked through most of my grandparents' things, and have had little luck finding things related to the children. Jonathan, we hope you have better luck with the suitcase.

  15. #60
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    Oops - This was supposed to be the first of the three photos of my grandparents, so the other photos are missing the lead-in. This photo is my grandmother in her early 20s with her oldest son, John.


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