05-13-2008, 10:36 AM #1
05-13-2008, 11:16 AM #2
Websleuths work on Sodder Case
Very long article here...thought I'd post this first since they mention websleuths.com (in one spot it's wewsleuths)
The popularity of the Internet has led a number of sleuths to try their hands at finding out what became of the Sodder children.
“My personal interest stems from seeing the Sodder billboard as a child. An image was etched in my mind that to this day remains with me, and just as strong, the desire to know what really happened to this family,” said Nancy Rust, a retired law enforcement officer who resides in Greenbrier County and participates in an Internet forum on the topic. “I believe the main thing that draws people to this particular case is the pure mystery of it, and also as with me, many saw the billboard and it just stayed with them.”
Rust is a member of Wewsleuths.com, where forums allow many hobbyist detectives to post their theories on a variety of unsolved events. Their theories on the Sodder case range from a fire caused by an angry World War II veteran seeking revenge on an Italian to the possibility that some of the children started the fire and fled. Some theorize about a vengeful kidnapping followed by a community-wide cover-up, not unheard of in the days of coal wars.
But none of them knows what happened to the children.
Neither does Sylvia (Sodder) Paxton, 64, who resides in St. Albans.
“We are touched deeply to know that people still care about the fate of our family after so many years,” she said. “Our parents hoped that some day their efforts would bring a resolution, even if it came after their lifetimes.”
Her daughter, Jennie Henthorn of Saint Albans, the granddaughter of Jeannie and George Sodder, still has hope answers can be found. She has also posted on websleuths.com.
“It was always a part of my life growing up,” she said. “It wasn’t until much later that I realized it was something more of a regional mystery and not just a family thing.”
Henthorn said the revival of the mystery among Internet sleuths has meant a great deal to her mother.
“She promised my grandparents she wouldn’t let the story die, that she would do everything she could,” Henthorn said.
Still, despite the sleuths’ collective resources, the family has seen no fruits from their efforts.
“It honestly is just a mystery still, for everyone,” Henthorn said. “Just to have some resolution for my mom would be a good thing.”
Rust, for one, has hope that could happen.
“Myself and fellow armchair sleuths have more than hope, we have determination and strong belief that if we continue to push on, and continue to get people ... getting this story back in the spotlight we will find the answers that the family has searched for 61 years to find,” she said.
INDEPTH ARTICLE HERE
05-13-2008, 01:33 PM #3
Mystery of Missing Children Haunts W.Va. Town
Dec. 23, 2005
Other than music that plays from a loudspeaker mounted on a storefront in the center of town, the streets of Fayetteville, W.V., are quiet as Christmas Eve approaches. Inside, they talk of presents and parties, and inevitably, what really happened to the Sodder family on Christmas morning 60 years ago.
Everyone has an opinion about the fire. These are the facts: When George and Jennie Sodder went to sleep on Christmas Eve in 1945, nine of their 10 children were with them. One son was away in the military.
George Bragg, a local writer and author of West Virginia Unsolved Murders, tells the story of that night's events: "Jennie woke up. She heard a noise. Somebody had thrown something on the roof. She got up and checked that out, and went back to bed. She woke up about a half-hour later, and she smelled smoke. She got up and realized one of the rooms where their office was [located] was on fire. She screamed for her husband and woke him up, and they both hollered upstairs where two of the boys were."
More at Link
05-13-2008, 01:42 PM #4
05-07-2010, 05:07 AM #5
Updated Wednesday, May 20, 2009; 11:47 PM
...According to the author of several books about unsolved murders in West Virginia, this tragedy took an unbelievable turn when firefighters sifted through the ashes on Christmas Morning.
"But there were no bones found. There was no other evidence of the children whatsoever," said George Bragg, Author...
Last edited by Kat; 05-07-2010 at 05:10 AM. Reason: add about video.
05-07-2010, 12:01 PM #6
Stacy Horn a contributor to NPR had excess material for her story presented on NPR. She posted the converstation that was edited from her show for time constraints on her blog.
Dated: 28 DEC 05
03-07-2011, 04:12 PM #7Registered User
- Join Date
- Mar 2011
Marian's account of that night from 1968. I will link to a copy of it on another forum and copy and paste the text here because the original link where it was found is no longer active.
This is an account written in 1968 by the oldest sister of the missing children, Mary Ann:
The following is the story of the tragedy which occurred twenty three years ago. The injustice and unfairness of this crime remains to this day. Please be kind enough to read the following account of the events concerning this tragedy.
On Christmas Eve night during the year of 1945, our home was set afire. There were nine children in the house at the time, four escaped from the burning building. My parents also escaped. I ran to a neighbour's house to have her call the fire department. She said the operator did not answer when she tried to put the call through to the fire department. A passing motorist called the Fayetteville Fire Department. Fayetteville is the nearest small town to our former residence. The Fire Chief answered the telephone. When he was told that our house was burning, he said, "We know it." This was at two o'clock A.M. He and the rest of the fire department arrived at the scene of the fire at 8 o'clock A.M., that same morning. The fire dept in the town of Fayetteville is located only two and one half miles away.
That same morning the Fire Chief and eight other men searched the ashes remaining. The fire had burned out completely hours before. We asked the Fire Chief if there were any traces left of the bodies of the children presumably still in the remains of the burned house. He said, "We searched as if with a fine tooth comb and we could not find a thing." However a few days later he produced a piece of flesh saying that it was a part of a human body. We could not understand how this soft piece of flesh could have survived the fire, yet there was no trace of bones or teeth. Another thing that puzzled us was that there was no scent of burning flesh during the time the house was burning, nor was there any scent in the ashes afterward. I was there and all I could smell was the scent of burning wood.
We had the spot where the house had been, covered over with soil thinking that since it was impossible to find any trace of the bodies, we would make it into a burial spot. In this place, the Fire Chief buried the piece of flesh he claimed was part of a human body. Later when we recovered enough from the shock to be more rational, we began to doubt the Fire Chief and became suspicious of all the circumstances concerning the fire. The Fire Chief had never shown this piece of flesh to the Coroner. --Why? We decided to check this item out with the local Mortician. We had this object removed (from the place where it had been buried), by excavation. The Mortician swears on an affidavit that this object was a large piece of beef liver and had never been touched by fire. There was nothing of this kind in our home at the time of the fire.
We asked the Prosecuting Attorney to call in some people who were considered suspects in this case. He said he could not question these people because they were personal friends of his. At another time he said, "Today they burned your house, but tomorrow they may burn mine and I have children too."
The telephone wires had been cut during the fire. The person who cut the wires had stolen during the time the house was burning, a pair of chain blocks. These are used to hoist automobiles or motors, etc. to be repaired. They were attached to the ceiling of the garage. To steal them and carry them away would have required advance planning. Since they had to be taken down from the celiing of the garage it would have to started (the process of removing them) either before or during the fire. Also the person who stole them had a taxi cab waiting to haul them away. Evidently this person either set the house afire himself or knew someone else was supposed to do so. He was supposed to appear in court. He never appeared. They fined him a small amount of money and forgot the whole thing.
I, being the oldest daughter, usually saw that the children went upstairs to bed, before going to sleep myself. The night of the fire I fell asleep downstairs and the last time I saw the children they were still up playing. It is our belief that they were kidnapped before the fire or possibly at the beginning of the fire.
Mrs Ida Crutchfield of Charleston, West Virginia, owner of the Alderson Hotel, claims to have seen four of the children at her hotel three or four nights after the fire. She has signed an affidavit to this fact.
We asked the Federal Bureau of Investigation for help. They said they would step in if they could get the permission of the county authorities to investigate the case. The local authorities refused to sign anything giving their permission. They certainly did not do anything themselves to solve this crime, why then do they refuse help from the Federal Bureau of Investigation? Is it because some of them may be involved in this crime?
We have written to each president in turn. Each one refers the case to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (The Justice Dept), then the Federal Bureau requires the permission of the local authorities. They refuse permission, so it has become a useless cycle, leaving this crime unsolved for the last twenty-three years.
My father has hired private detectives and they have turned up some very good evidence that this whole thing was planned. But what is the use? They are warned by certain people to stay off the case. Even some of the state police have admitted that "their hands are tied."
If this had not happened to my family, I would have said that such a heinous crime as this, could not have been committed in the United States of America, without some justice being done. But here it is and it almost seems fantastic.
If you wish to print this, you have my parents' permission. If you wish to communicate with them, their address is (Mr and Mrs George Sodder, Route 2, Fayetteville, West Virginia). Their telephone number is 1-304-574-1678.
Perhaps publicity on this case would cause some interest in someone who would try to help solve this crime.
Last edited by KateB; 04-04-2015 at 01:14 AM. Reason: repair url tag.
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