WV - Sodder Family - 5 children, Christmas eve 1945 - #2

Discussion in 'Sodder Family' started by Amraann, Jan 14, 2006.

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  1. fox1950

    fox1950 New Member

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    Thanks, Jennie,

    Very informative website. It answered some of my questions. Did your family know the people who came to the home after the fire to see the "babies" or were they strangers?
     
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  2. hoping4truth

    hoping4truth New Member

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    I am new on this thread and have read it through, and I wanted to bring up something I didn't really see mentioned.

    I would like to say first off, that I don't believe that these five children died in that fire. I am by no means an expert on fire, but I would think there would be a lot of physical remnants (like most of you others think as well).

    But I wanted to say this:

    Regarding the actions of the fire chief (If my memory serves, he was a volunteer, right?) I believe he was extremely unprofessional - as most (if not all) of you agree. But I see in a less negative light. Put yourself there: it was Christmas Day – a time for joy - and this family had lost (presumably) five children in a house fire. The entire town was witness to the tragedy, and no doubt the entire family was suffering. The circumstances around it were mysterious, no doubt, and would have had merit (at least, in today’s world) to be given a more thorough investigation, but I tend to think that his intentions were not to cover up the crime, as much as to give the family some closure. I tend to think that the Priest and the relative did the same. It definitely does not make those actions appropriate, but I could see someone, maybe with children of his own, telling this family he found remains so they could be buried and the family could move on. I don't think he counted on them being so suspicious - he probably was hoping they'd take his word for it. It does not excuse his actions - he was the closest thing that town had to being a professional, and he took advantage of his position to dupe an unsuspecting family, but I don't believe his intentions were sinister. A lot of people do dishonest things to try and lessen the pain of one of their friends or family, it doesn't make it right, but it doesn't mean that this person was involved in a plot to destroy a family, or cover up who did. In fact, I believe that if this man who's last name starts with a "J" (Janotulo??) was involved, it just so happened that this man helped cover up the crime, probably unintentionally.

    And the fact that the Sodders were so mistrusting of those findings, it makes me wonder if some memories came back to Jenny and George that made them conclude that they were kidnapped and not murdered. I saw on here that someone mentioned the Sodders got a "black hand", I don't remember if it said where that information came from (whether it was rumor, fact, or legend) but that would be a great reason to doubt the authorities of that time. Someone mentioned that when working with the families of victims, they resist that their family members are found murdered - they don't want to believe them to be dead). But those people had a corpse - some tangable way for them to see that their family member was in fact, dead, they (at least with modern technology) could do DNA or Dental comparisons to verify. In one way or another, those family members would have to come to terms - and I'm sure it wouldn't have been easy. But the Sodders had nothing.

    I hope this excavation brings more answers than questions, although I fear otherwise.
     
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  3. welder 79

    welder 79 New Member

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    hoping4truth.............very good post i enjoyed reading it.. I myself often thought about the fire chief's actions??? they was very strange to say the least..Iam no way trying to take up for him but i try to put myself back in his time and technology on dec. 1945 in rural west virigina...equipment that the fire station had at that time i have no idea..but training wise i say they had very little if any.. no 2-way radio's,,to call the men out i say they had a old air siren at the fire station that on a quiet nice day you might hear it 1 to 2 mile's away, a cold windy day far less....It's sure not like in 2006 where i can go to fire station and take all kind's of University credible classes on a direct satellite hook-up and asked question's in real time...even today it's very hard to get vol. firefighter's to come out on any holiday's and Christmas eve its real hard!!..different fire dept's work different like i think foam injected water is the best but other dept's don't agree.. but that fire chief in that town really did act strange too me but i have never heard his side of the story.. maybe somewhere we can find his report on the fire hopefully...I try to start looking for it but don't hold your breath it be very lucky if we can find it..:D
     
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  4. drema

    drema MY opinion only. Subject to change

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    Here is a website that you can view the death certificates of the missing Sodder children along with brother Michael's: http://www.wvculture.org/vrr. Go under "Death" and type the name Sodder. All the children's death certifications are there to view.
     
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  5. blueclouds

    blueclouds Former member

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    When I downloaded and printed them out quite sometime ago.... it stated clearly that date of death was 25th of Xmas and BURIAL WAS 27TH. 2 days after the fire - meaning George buried them 2 days later. Again, a fire that actually burned all night with coal in the home too - will result in UNDETECTABLE SMALL - EXTREMELY SMALL FRAGMENTS of skeleton...

    AND speaking to my forensic EXPERT FIRE / HOMICIDE / ARSON INVESTIGATOR determined that unless you had experts digging for quite sometime long after the fire was cooled - you would not have found the children.

    It is extremely clear to me that the children DID die that night and the answers are there. IT WAS THE FATHER's tremendous grief that drove him to want so desperately to believe his children still were alive..... survivors guilt to say the least.

    I can get this expert to put his thoughts and beliefs in writing. He said he'd highly welcome an expert excavation (THOROUGH) - and there will be remains found.

    I feel such tremendous sadness for the remaining children and the shadows they grew up in having their parents not provide their full love and attention solely for the living children and still live their lives in grief. Rumors get started but many of the rumors have been proven and dispelled. It's the continuing NEED to believe that the parents didn't do all their searching in vain.... because that is what it would be - in vain.

    It would still leave a very big hole in the family today to let this go and know those children died that night.

    So sad all around but i think the family needs to go to TODAY'S EXPERTS AND THE PROSECUTOR IN THE COUNTY to get finality on this. Having a very old letter stating a "fire buring at 2000degrees for 2 hours" would still have visible remains is not relevant to this circumstance at all. PLEASE GO to experts today and your answers will be there. A skeleton would not be found.

    GO find the proper people today and let go of the old "letters" providing further credence to more rumor. Find the experts that will give you answers today.... not some people from 1945.
     
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  6. rainbow

    rainbow Member

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    Couldn't someone exhume the graves to see if there is enough of anything in the caskets to test? Forgive me if this has been mentioned....it's been awhile since I read all the way through this thread.
     
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  7. blueclouds

    blueclouds Former member

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    There are no caskets honey. The fire was Xmas morning at 1:30 am and the father, George, backfilled the entire fire site not 48 hours later. Death certificates that were provided - show the burial was on site and the date of burial was the 27th of December. Essentially the remains were all covered up and then the father came to believe his children MUST be alive due to a picture he had seen a year or two later in New York. In going to New York, he could not see the girl in question but it was proven to him that it was NOT his daughter. Following that, he continued on this belief that his kids MUST have survived and were kidnapped. There were a couple of weird things that night (the stolen items - guy plead guilty and paid a fine) and the hang up phone call was actually a neighbor (PROVEN) and she came forward stating it was a wrong number that she dialed and provided a written statement.

    I think survivors guilt played tremendously in this family but no one will talk about the REAL TRAGEDY IN ALL THIS. How the surviving children were emotionally abandoned to a degree as their parents went on this wild hunt for dead children. That is the most painful thing about this entire story.

    I can go on with evidence and how the media BACK THEN AND EVEN NOW LOVE TO FUEL THIS FIRE in order to "sell" papers..... ALL Strange circumstances were PROVEN and provided a logical explanation. The remains are under approximately 4 to 9 feet of fill (depending on further landscaping over the years). If one of the Universities near this local can provide student geologists and excavation students.... etc..... these children WILL be found and DNA will prove it.
     
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  8. mysteriew

    mysteriew A diamond in process

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    I seem to remember the raw "meat" wasn't proven.....nor was the picture that was mailed to the home signed Louis. No explanation for the rubber "bulbs" or whatever it was they found in the yard.
    I know it is possible they burned up in the fire. But their were a lot of "weird" things that happened.
     
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  9. Shadow205

    Shadow205 Well-Known Member

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    Blueclouds,

    I would like to address your comments that I have highlighted from your last post.

    1. The fire was Xmas morning at 1:30 am and the father, George, backfilled the entire fire site not 48 hours later.
    **The information that I have states that the site of the fire was filled in on December 29th which would was definitely more than 48hrs after the fire.

    2. father came to believe his children MUST be alive due to a picture he had seen a year or two later in New York. In going to New York, he could not see the girl in question but it was proven to him that it was NOT his daughter.
    **Perhaps I am misunderstanding this statement but I took it that you were saying that the picture of the young girl whom George thought might be his daughter is what starting the Sodder's questioning whether the children died in the fire or not. It is not. From the information that I have, the suspician began when they were told by the telephone repairman that the phone lines appeared to have been cut not burned. The phone lines were cut 14ft above the ground and two feet from the pole. There were many other things that caused the Sodder's to doubt that their children died in the fire including the mysterious actions of the Fire Chief burying the beef liver at the site of the fire and claiming to have found a human heart.
    There were a couple of weird things that night (the stolen items - guy plead guilty and paid a fine)
    The man whole stole the items also said that he cut the phone lines thinking that he was cutting the power line to the house.

    3. In going to New York, he could not see the girl in question but it was proven to him that it was NOT his daughter.
    **I have never seen any indication that it was proven not to have been his daughter. Could you please explain how this was proven?

    4. I can go on with evidence
    **Pleae do, I am interested in seeing any evidence that you can share with us.

    5. ALL Strange circumstances were PROVEN and provided a logical explanation
    **I respectfully disagree completely with this statement, I personally have not seen where the strange circumstances(too many to post here again) were proven and a logical explanation was provided.

    I for one am not convinced that the children persihed in the fire and have stated my reasons why in numerous posts throughout this thread. I do not believe that the fire burned hot enough to totally destroy all remains of five bodies. From the information that I have, the house burned very quickly and then smoldered for a few hours.
    I think the only way to possibly find some answers is an excavation of the site. Jonathan is working on having that done.
     
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  10. drema

    drema MY opinion only. Subject to change

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    I do not think the remaining Sodder children felt abandoned by their father. All were grown except baby and after she was grown she tried to help her father very much in finding answers to what had happened. The Sodder family are still looking for answers. I don't see them doing that if they had any bad feelings toward their father or if he were not a loving father to them also. I think they had a great deal of respect for him. They remember how he paced the floor and worried about the missing children.
     
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  11. Granddaughter

    Granddaughter Member

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    Hi all -

    As I said, we haven't forgotten you and your efforts.

    I just want to place one quick reply for now (my mom has been working on responses to some of your questions). I have written most of the responses in the past on behalf of my mom, with her review and thoughts. My mom is Sylvia, the only surviving child who was still that -- a child -- at the time of the fire. These are my words, and not my mom's.

    Mom has told me many, many times over the years what it was like to grow up in that house. Put simply, she was brought with up in extreme love, devotion, and tenderness. They cultivated in her all that you would want a person to be. This is the same way that I was raised by my parents, and I can only hope that I do my upbringing justice. My mother remained close with her parents until their death. We still speak of my grandparents often, and always with love and respect.

    I'm not trying to displace any thoughts or comments on this board. It should be an open forum for all views. However, I do feel the need to defend my grandparent's devotion to their remaining children. They did not wallow in sorrow at the expense of their remaining children. They took action. They looked for answers. And they filled the rest of their lives with labor and love.
     
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  12. Shadow205

    Shadow205 Well-Known Member

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    Granddaughter,

    I just want to let you know that I admire your Grandparents for never giving up on their search. I can assure you that I will continue to look for answers. Please give my regards to Sylvia.
     
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  13. welder 79

    welder 79 New Member

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    I thought i get this site back up near the top again, I wonder how the family project is coming along?? . I not heard nothing about it for a while. There project will tell us a lot more i think than anything else will right now. really no use of trying to 2nd guess about this i think the family is doing the best thing they can do now and hopefully there project will help find out something new about this case..
     
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  14. LButler

    LButler New Member

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    Bumping this case and hoping there have been some updates the family can give us.

    I hate to see this thread become completely dormant, but it seems we exhausted everything "forum-wise" that we could do.

    I had hoped to look around for more info about it this spring, but just found myself at a standstill as to where to start or what to look for. I think the key to solving this is finding someone willing to give answers to the family after all these years.

    I still think about them often and hope the family gets answers soon!
     
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  15. welder 79

    welder 79 New Member

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    All shoot I saw this new post and a big smile came on my face and thought all right a update. well that's how life goes....You don't think they might dug a too big of a hole and forgot the ladder??? If I don't hear something soon I might drive up there with a ladder and a long rope...just kidding I don't think they did that. The case I was involved with when we ran into a body took I think 3 or 4 year's..I know it was a long time but they did a very good job we found out about the year of death, the general place and area he came from, how old he was, what he was doing in this area just about everything we needed to know..They did a very good job..
     
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  16. Shadow205

    Shadow205 Well-Known Member

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    I just sent Granddaughter an email. I got an email from her a few weeks ago and she was working on something. It was related to the excavation that was done back in 1949. I'm sure that she will post an update when she can.
     
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  17. welder 79

    welder 79 New Member

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    Thank you Shadow 205 for the update, yes I say that whole family is pretty busy right now ..you have a very nice day.
     
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  18. Granddaughter

    Granddaughter Member

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    I stand appropriately chastened! Sorry for the delay in posting. This has been a very hectic summer for my family. My mom continues to try to identify information for you.

    She found a carbon copy where my aunt Mary Ann (Marion) retyped a report from Dr. Oscar B. Hunter, Jr., the pathologist who examined the bones from the excavation of the house site in 1949. Since my brother is involved in a move and is trying to get settled, he has not posted it to the website. So, I've retyped the most relevant portions of the report below:

    Received: August 19, 1949
    Reported: August 25, 1949

    Report of Examination of Bones

    The following description is that relative to bones found in the excavations of the home of Mr. George Sodder near Fayetteville, West Virginia, which was destroyed by fire on December 25, 1945.

    In the excavation, bones were found in the northeast corner of the basement and in the southwest corner of the basement. In the northeast corner eight fragments of bone were found. All of these were cut in sections and have all the aspects and appearance of the thoracic vertebrae of animals together with a few ribs and one femur. In the southeast corner of the house 6 bones were found 2 of which are fragments. These 2 fragments are fragile long bones which have the aspect of a chicken's femur. In this same location, however, there were 4 bones which are definitely identified as human bones. These 4 consist of lumbar vertebrae. They all belong to the same individual and their articulations fit precisely, one with the other. These 4 vertebrae are discolored by the earth and adjacent metallic substances. They show no evidence of charring, however, except perhaps for deposition of charred material on the surface of the bones. The bones themselves, however, show no evidence of having been burned. The uppermost vertebrae and the second vertebrae show some chipping of the dorsal spine and lateral processes.

    ...

    Conclusions:

    From studying these bones it can be unequivocally stated that these bones are identical with know human bones of the age group 14-15 years and it is probable, with room for very little doubt, that they belong to a child of this age.

    The bones show no evidence of actual charring which would indicate that they were not free within the fire and subject to high temperature. They, of course, could have been in the fire covered by flesh and consequently insulated from the higher temperature associated with the fire.

    The question immediately arises as to why these bones should be found without the associated bones of the remaining portions of the skeleton and consequently it would lead one to believe that the remaining portion of the skeleton necessitates the conclusion that they were forcibly removed from the remaining portion of the skeleton. Such a forcible dismemberment during life or even after a body has been subject to fire of the intensity described would necessitate a considerable amount of force and dexterity of the part of an individual planning such a dismemberment.

    It would seem more reasonable that the remaining bones had been removed from the skeleton subsequent to the death of the individual at a time when the interlacing ligaments and fibrous tissue had undergone degeneration. This feature, therefore, suggests that these bones were separated from the remaining portion of the skeleton at some later time and that perhaps these bones were overlooked at the time of the removal.


    Reported

    Oscar B. Hunter, Jr. MD
    Pathologist


    For those who might not recognize the name, Dr. Hunter was an impressive man. He was the President of the College of American Pathologists in the 1960s. My quick research indicates that Dr. Hunter nominated one of the four physicians who was on the 1968 Panel that reviewed the evidence regarding the Kennedy assassination. He obviously was a well-respected official. As indicated in the photos on my brother's website, that Dr. Hunter was present and supervised the excavation of the house site.

    My mother recalls that the excavation was a very careful process. She remembers that they had prepared sieves to sort through the material when it was excavated, and Dr. Hunter said it would not be necessary. He said that they would find large groups of bones if the children were present, because their bones would not incinerate at the temperature of a house fire. Still, the excavation was a lengthy process.

    The report indicates that a few human bones were found, and that they were small bones rather than the large bones that were expected. My mom recalls that it was believed that the few bones were brought in with the fill material. If she finds anything more on that topic, we'll keep you posted.

    This leads to an obvious avenue - do the bones still exist, and can DNA testing be conducted? We don't know what happened to the bones after the examination, athough Mom thinks they went to the Smithsonian Institute. We will try to determine whether the bones still exist at the Smithsonian.
     
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  19. welder 79

    welder 79 New Member

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    Just a idea like your Mom say..If they hauled fill dirt from a other place or very close to that site, I know in this area and in my area both it's not too uncommon every few year's you will see where they run into a old Indian burial site and if you untrained in what to really look for you can miss them bone's all together while doing this fill in job..
     
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  20. LButler

    LButler New Member

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    Granddaughter ... thanks for the update and please don't feel reprimanded by us - we appreciate all the time and info you can spare.

    About the bones found (per your post), I think the book mentioned something to the effect that someone admitted to placing some human bones at the site after the fire - if my memory serves me right, it was someone close to the fire chief?

    As we all know, many stories are made up of about 50% rumors, so please correct me if that is wrong or if I have the story wrong.
     
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