Sodder Family - The brother said he called

Discussion in 'Sodder Family' started by Laura_Bean, Apr 24, 2013.

  1. Mackenzie10

    Mackenzie10 New Member

    Messages:
    5
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    0
    So I posted a pretty long post from a firefighters perspective and now it seems lost. If it shows up somewhere else, let me know. Otherwise I'll try again later...
     
    RaeOx likes this.


  2. Carnifax

    Carnifax Member

    Messages:
    29
    Likes Received:
    37
    Trophy Points:
    13
    While I dont have the backgrounds that some on here have in relation to this case, I do have a very keen interest in this case and wish to share a few thoughts.

    Some of the circumstances regarding this situation dont make for a clear cut plausible explanation. I think this makes it maddening and intriguing at the same time. I think most of this is due to the relative lack of technology that we have today and really points to how times were different then vs. now.

    Take the supposed theft of the block and tackle. For starters, are thieves really going to steal block and tackle on Christmas Eve? Im not suggesting crimes dont occur during a holiday season but it seems unlikely. Additionally, a block and tackle is a somewhat odd item to steal. For the most part, thieves are opportunists and a block and tackle would be heavy and bulky. Additionally, why go through the hassle of cutting a phone line just to steal that? If I was a thief, I would be much more concerned about someone hearing me (and shooting me) rather than having the law called on me.

    Plus, we are talking about rural WV. Not to say the police would not do anything but it's much more likely a thief would fear reprisal from the homeowner rather than the police. It just doesnt make sense that someone would take the time to find a ladder, place it up against the house (or telephone pole) just to steal a block and tackle. Wooden ladders for the most part are heavy and unwieldy for one person. From a common sense standpoint, it would seem more likely that one would stand a greater chance of being caught placing a ladder rather than grabbing the block and tackle and tossing it into a truck and getting out of there.

    How did the fire start? While it seems easy to chalk this up to faulty wiring, I dont think it should necessarily be attributed to wiring. If it was wiring, it would seem more likely someone overloaded an electrical circuit with Christmas lights on a Christmas tree or some other holiday decorations. I've thought of kids with matches, etc.

    So now, focusing on the after math. I find it hard to believe the Italian mafia (or American mafia) had a hand in this is situation. First off, why would the Italian mafia come all the way to WV to settle a score? I was under the impression that the American mafia would supersede them (i.e. it's their "turf"). Not being in the mob I can only speculate but the mob typically enforces their means criminally and opportunistically so if they wanted to send a message, wouldn't they harm George first or make sure he was NOT harmed to allow him to see what happens to his family? That puzzle piece never fit for me.

    While a lot of these schemes seem somewhat grandiose I think the truth is often much simpler and mundane. I think the kids did perish in the fire and the law enforcement bungled the case. Today we expect quick answers by experts but back then so much was obviously word of mouth, it seems many details were distorted or simply wrong. It's not a criticism, simply a product of the times. Interviews with people become gospel, people unrelated with the situation become witnesses from something they heard and so and so on.

    Additionally, if I'm a Sodder kid that was abducted, why wouldnt I make some attempt to contact my family at some point through the years.

    One of the more intriguing points for me at least was the fact that the family kept the vigil literally until their deaths.

    I cannot imagine a more horrible fate than to have your children pass in such an awful way. My mind cannot conceive what that must be like. But part of the grieving process is acceptance. Over time, wouldn't one of the parents finally say "Hey, we've done all we can. Maybe it's time to sell the place and move back to Italy (or Boone County or Ohio or New York or wherever). But day after day, month after month, year after year, the billboard (or pire?) had to be an awful mental burden reminding them day after day.

    My point is that I think George felt some kind of responsibility in this. I think I would even if for the fact I placed my family in this house regardless of how the fire started. Im not suggesting anything more insidious than that but what seems to be missing is his story. If I was desperately trying to find my kids, I would appeal to every newspaper, radio or other source to tell my story and plead for anyone to come forward. Perhaps it was a cultural difference or otherwise but it simply doesnt add up to me.

    I have other thoughts on the matter but was hoping to get some feedback. Thanks everyone who took the time to post, it's very intriguing and definitely compelling even after all these years.
     
    RaeOx and ttcRider like this.
  3. Tulessa

    Tulessa Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    23,035
    Likes Received:
    3,329
    Trophy Points:
    113
    I'm still trying to find out how my mom knew about him. She's been dead many years, and never even knew what the internet was! But she sure knew us well enough, that if we misbehaved, saying the Sodder man was going to get us, would put the fear of God in us. We are in SE Ky.
     
    RaeOx likes this.
  4. carterkatt

    carterkatt Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    468
    Likes Received:
    327
    Trophy Points:
    63
    I have followed this case on and off for years. I'm still fascinated by it.

    Wondering why the parents kept looking their entire lives for their children.... maybe because the alternative (that they had died in the fire) was too painful. Looking for alive children would give them a glimmer of hope?
     
    RaeOx likes this.
  5. masootz

    masootz New Member

    Messages:
    542
    Likes Received:
    9
    Trophy Points:
    0
    that's likely exactly the case, coupled with the weird actions of some local townsfolks.
     
    RaeOx likes this.
  6. annoulzz

    annoulzz Member

    Messages:
    294
    Likes Received:
    35
    Trophy Points:
    18
    it's that hope you have thinking they will come back to you. no bodies to them makes them think they could be alive somewhere.
     
    RaeOx likes this.
  7. masootz

    masootz New Member

    Messages:
    542
    Likes Received:
    9
    Trophy Points:
    0
    exactly. and seemingly little motivation to excavate the site of the fire to look for bones.
     
    RaeOx likes this.
  8. Roselvr

    Roselvr Ask me how to get your loved one in NamUs

    Messages:
    7,645
    Likes Received:
    3,119
    Trophy Points:
    113
    I wonder if search and rescue dogs could pick up a scent of remains.
     
    RaeOx likes this.
  9. moonmama73

    moonmama73 New Member

    Messages:
    3
    Likes Received:
    3
    Trophy Points:
    1
    So, you are in the middle of stealing and you get caught, you panic because the kids came outside to do the chores their mother asked them to do and now they saw what you were up to. Who is to say they didn't kill the kids and cut the phone line meaning to kill the rest of the family by fire? That was always a question I had, did the kids actually go outside to take care of the chores they were asked to do. Perfect opportunity for the thieves to be caught....just a thought too.
     
    RaeOx likes this.
  10. Satch

    Satch Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,663
    Likes Received:
    1,033
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Interesting!

    And Kentucky is where the mysterious picture that might have been Louis Sodder came from!

    Satch
     
    RaeOx likes this.
  11. Leischa

    Leischa Active Member

    Messages:
    230
    Likes Received:
    60
    Trophy Points:
    28
    I know this is an old thread but I researched the man in question, Fiorenzo Gambet Januloto, and unless I got the wrong man, the details regarding his occupation don't match. Here is what it says:

    http://www.fridley.net/bibb/p1030.htm#i51476

    Was George Sodder ever employed by this man at all? If not, what did he really have to do with the Sodder family, and why was it said that he used to be a lumber dealer and road contractor? Are there any sources saying that (maybe I missed something since I haven't been on this case for long)?
     
    RaeOx and Laughing like this.
  12. ColyH

    ColyH Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    437
    Likes Received:
    1,706
    Trophy Points:
    93
    I have heard that people who go through a traumatic experience usually can't remember events exactly the way it happened. I think that is what happened to John.
     
    RaeOx and Leischa like this.
  13. Satch

    Satch Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,663
    Likes Received:
    1,033
    Trophy Points:
    113
    My view of the case today, after going back and forth on some issues:

    The fact that the wiring was inspected shortly before the contractor went to the fuse boxes or something similar saying, "This is going to cause a fire someday." It also must be taken into account that the kind and quality of inspections that were done in 1945 in small towns, were a joke compared to the kind of inspections done today. Barney Fife from The Andy Griffth show could have told George that the wiring was OK when it was anything but. I think the investigation by the Fire Chief and his associates was of Mayberry quality, so you can't put much claim into what was done or how it was down. The investigation was a joke and the people around it were horribly inept. Supplies and manpower were still very limited due to it being Christmas time, and even though World War II had ended, many service personnel had not returned home.

    At the same time, Geoge Sodder made the mistake of bulldozing the shattered remains of his home into a landfill less than a week after the fire, and destroyed critical evidence in doing that. I now believe most likely that the children died in the fire. John Sodder called out to them, perhaps, but most likely saw his dead brothers and sisters burned and/or asphyxiated. The shock and horror was so painful and traumatic, that he could never bring about getting himself out of the shocked state to tell his parents about what he really saw. There were even reports that human remains were found, but LE decided not to tell the family. How do you even recover and build your life from a horror like that? This was the work of an arsonist. I also now believe that the person, some say two people, who took the block and tackle may know what happened, and whoever cut the phone lines, started the fire. I don't think this immigrant family was well-liked in the neighborhood due to George's outspoken political views.

    Give the family credit, at least they never gave up hope. George and Jennie died, trying, and clinging to the belief that the children had been abducted and that someday, they would come home. Even though the real truth most likely was that they died in the fire early on Christmas morning.

    Satch
     
    RaeOx, Mo2Willow, Suglo and 2 others like this.
  14. Carnifax

    Carnifax Member

    Messages:
    29
    Likes Received:
    37
    Trophy Points:
    13
    Ok, a couple of things....

    Some people still yet today believe that wiring in those days (post and knob) was actually more safe than today's modern Romex style wiring (because the wires were separated by a greater distance). Of course our standards are far greater today than they were then, I'm not debating that point. My point is simply not everyone was a moron because it was a small town a few years ago.

    As well, it's not necessarily difficult to observe faulty or poor wiring, even then. We shouldn't dismiss this out of hand because of that.

    As well, as far as the wiring inspection goes, we don't know what the context of the term "contractor" is. Was it just someone hired to do a quick job. Was it the handyman from next door? Did they know what they were talking about. Did this person simply look down at a dozen strands of Christmas lights plugged into an overloaded socket and mumble "That's going to cause a fire one day"? We have no idea the context of this remark.

    As far as the "noise" from the roof, how does only Jennie hear it? Making so much noise (according to her) that she wakes up sleeping on the ground floor yet none of the kids heard it while sleeping directly under the roof? Not one. Not George. Nobody. Kids excited about Christmas. Kids laying under (an assumed uninsulated) roof. How does that happen? As well, you have a full house and only one person in the whole family hears this? The one person who is probably the most exhausted preparing her home for the holidays with a son on the way home from the service. She is the only one who hears this?

    I would respectfully disagree that Jennie would be able to discern that noise being woken up from sleep. As well, she didnt wake up George "Hey honey, I heard a strange noise, can you go check on it?". The phone call doesnt wake George up?

    As well, an arsonist isn't going to throw something on the roof to start a fire. You're going to use an accelerant like gasoline around a large and quickly flammable surface. Fire burns upward (literally). A tin roof doesnt burn well. You need to start the fire quickly and efficiently. A grenade on the roof wont work. Additionally, there is a chance that the "device" would roll down the roof back to the feet of where the thrower stood. I don't buy arson as a theory. If you going to burn a house, start it around the perimeter of the house and if you're sadistic, block the exits. If the roof was on fire the kids would have been the first to know.

    From the descriptions, this sounded as if the fire was inside the walls which would lend credence to the faulty wiring theory. Some of the balloon frame houses had firestops built into the walls from floor to floor but unsure if this was the case here.

    As for the relative ineptness of the fire officials, I think the state fire marshall was there on christmas Day and would have been available to inspect the site. If he thought something was suspect, why did he walk away and only advise George to not disturb it? Additionally, where did George get the bulldozer? In this very small town, wouldn't word have gotten back to the FD that George covered the site?

    This is an interesting case with very few clear answers...
     
  15. ColyH

    ColyH Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    437
    Likes Received:
    1,706
    Trophy Points:
    93
    I wonder if it was just an electrician looking for work and pointing out "problems" so George would hire him to fix it. I know I have had mechanics, electricians, and plumbers point out something that was fixed wrong by another company and it came across as a way of someone getting more business. I also wonder if the electrician did something to the Sodder's wiring so they would have to hire him only for the electrician's scam to go horribly wrong.

    This is a point of the story that makes me scratch my head. How is it she is the only one that hears this noise and no one else considering that she is not only downstairs but exhausted from a hard day's work. I still believe what she heard was a fuse popping and that because she was tired her sense of direction was off and she thought it came from the roof. It also could have been a dream and she woke up and really thought she heard something on the roof. When you are tired you are not always thinking straight.

    Could it have been people were throwing things on the roof hoping to just scare the Sodders.
     
    RaeOx, Satch and Carnifax like this.
  16. Carnifax

    Carnifax Member

    Messages:
    29
    Likes Received:
    37
    Trophy Points:
    13
    This is in no way shape or form meant to be insulting, degrading or disparaging in any way shape or form to the family...but Jennie appears to have changed her story several times during the investigation and much more information "seems" to come from her than anyone else. I get it that everyone reacts differently in a time of crisis but for the most part people's stories don't seem to change too much.

    For instance, she said she didn't check upstairs on the kids herself as she was exiting the house. It would seem most mothers would sacrifice their lives to save their kids (instead of stopping at the base of the stairs and yelling up).

    If George was outspoken in the community (to the point where he allegedly offended someone about a political stance) and the patriarch of the family, why aren't there more statements from him than anyone else? Wouldn't George provide a list of people that he thought might be responsible? Did he have an "enemies" list?

    He certainly wasn't afraid to call out the local law enforcement 6 months later with the billboard. If George was somehow involved with the mafia (or anyone else "dirty" for that matter), why didn't George deal with them himself instead of trying to pressure the local authorities to do it?

    I think there are either files missing (intentionally or otherwise) that would help tell a different story. Have they been lost to time? Did someone make them disappear?

    Today, as we all go back and try and find the footsteps and piece the puzzle together, I'm struck by the fact that this was probably already done. If George wrote to sitting presidents and anyone else on down that he thought could help him, (I believe there were 2 inquiries in the WV court on the state level into this case) a decision would have been reached then. If they didn't find anything then, it's doubtful there is going to be anything tangible that would come out now other than conjecture or retelling of the same story.

    It would be very interesting to see the police reports of all the leads that were followed up on and what the police thought at that time.

    I requested the FBI files on this case and the reply was that too much time had past and they were no longer available.

    This is a point of the story that makes me scratch my head. How is it she is the only one that hears this noise and no one else considering that she is not only downstairs but exhausted from a hard day's work. I still believe what she heard was a fuse popping and that because she was tired her sense of direction was off and she thought it came from the roof. It also could have been a dream and she woke up and really thought she heard something on the roof. When you are tired you are not always thinking straight.

    A head scratcher indeed. I've heard fuses blow too but it was never loud enough to wake me up. Additionally a fuse blowing would prevent a fire (cutting electricity to the circuit). It may have been fire starting or advancing inside the wall.
     
    RaeOx, Satch and BethAnn777 like this.
  17. Aldergirl

    Aldergirl New Member

    Messages:
    1
    Likes Received:
    10
    Trophy Points:
    3
    I'm a mother of a nursing almost-two year old, and of a five year old son. I can tell you why Jennie could be the only one that heard these things, and woke up so much.

    It says Jennie had her two year old daughter sleeping with her. That tells me she's still probably nursing her. That means she's probably VERY accustomed to being woken up all night long, and is a light sleeper so as not to roll over onto the baby in the night.

    I nurse my daughter. I'm usually the only one that hears things at night because I'm so used to always having to wake up to take care of a crying baby or child. I have to be aware! I also sleep very lightly, often in kind of a half-awake state as my little one squirms around me and nurses. My husband sleeps through everything. And, I don't wake my husband about things, as he has to work. It's very traditional for women--especially in the 40s!--to be the ones who take care of the kids during the night. The men work, so the woman must let him sleep. The older generation constantly tells me that this is how it ought to be, so I'm assuming it's how Jennie likely thought, too.

    I can very much see myself being the one who would hear all those things, while the rest of the house slept blissfully. I'm trained to wake at the slightest sound. And, I'm not usually all-the-way asleep, as I've got a baby keeping me in a twilight-state most of the night. I'm figuring Jennie likely was in that kind of twilight state, as she had her daughter with her, and she probably was "trained" to wake at the slightest sound, especially if she nursed and co-slept with so many different children over the years. Motherhood does interesting things to one's senses!
     
  18. Slbno1

    Slbno1 New Member

    Messages:
    1
    Likes Received:
    4
    Trophy Points:
    1
    I don't for one second, believe this occurrence, was just an accident. I understand that the insurance salesman made a pretty hefty statement to George, when he was unable to sell them policies for their family and or home. He commented, " Your house will burn, your kids will burn in it!" That is quite suspect to me. Less than a month later, after he was seen by one of the surviving children watching them, their house burns..hmm! Neighbors noticed as well as George and his wife, that while the house was burning, in an area of the house, there was still electrical lighting. If it was faulty wiring, this seems impossible. The bones they found in the rubble, were tested by Smithsonian, and found to be from a male adolescent, older than their oldest son. It took the fire truck 8 hours to get there to distinguish the fire. Two and half miles away! On what planet, does that even make sense? Everyone in an authority position, wanted this case closed quickly. Why? What would be the downfall of investigating it? These people knew their children didn't perish that night, they wanted to get to the bottom of it, and every time they may have gotten to something good, they hit a wall..I hope someone finds answers for the family, so they can get closer to this.
     
    RaeOx, Satch, Roselvr and 1 other person like this.
  19. lisanichole

    lisanichole New Member

    Messages:
    1
    Likes Received:
    2
    Trophy Points:
    1
    This is an old thread and I'm not sure if it is still being monitored - this is my first post on WebSleuths so I don't really know how things work around here! But I've been fascinated with the Sodder family for a while and after reading thread after thread, I have one question.

    I understand, completely, that it is more plausible for the children to have died in the fire. But the one thing that haunts me, that no one seems to be talking about on these threads, is the disappearance of the private investigator that went to Kentucky after the supposed photo of Louis Sodder was mailed to Jennie. They hired a P.I., he went to Kentucky, and he was never heard from again. Does this not strike anyone as a little suspicious?
     
    RaeOx and jd675 like this.
  20. ColyH

    ColyH Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    437
    Likes Received:
    1,706
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Welcome to websleuths Lisanichole.

    Most people believe that the P.I. the Sodders hired to check up on that photo was a conman who took the money and ran.
     
    RaeOx and Suglo like this.

Share This Page



  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice