WV - Sodder Family - 5 children, Christmas eve 1945 - #3

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Incidentally, if anyone is from Fayetteville and of the generation the missing Sodder children are - how easy would it have been to lure the children out on Christmas eve?

I find the very idea horrible, but I am a product of a later, different (more paranoid, too?) society, and I am not American; things may have been very different then.

Personally, I am inclined to believe the children didn't die in the fire but were either snatched when they went out (to do the chores? Because they saw someone/something - known person, Santa?) or lured by someone they weren't afraid of. There were five of them, I don't quite see five children of such different ages go quietly unless they wanted to keep quiet (so as not to wake up the parents and siblings).
Why has the Sodder Children family website been taken down? There was an account by the 17 year old daughter there that I thought was very interesting.

This is my first post here. I hope you don't mind. I can't get this story out of my mind. It is absolutely haunting to me. I read the first and third threads (why was the 3rd one closed?) and have some questions, I was wondering if anyone might know the answers...

Did both Mr. and Mrs. Sodder both believe that the kids were kidnapped equally? If not, who believed it more strongly and why?

If we consider the possibility that they were taken or harmed to convey some sort of message, were they both aware of the intended message? Or was it something one tried to hide from the other?

When they went to see if the children were with the brother who'd moved to Florida...how did the brother's side of the family react to this? Because for them to think it was possible that their kids are living with another family member...that speaks to some level of distrust. I know I'd be pretty upset if my sister thought I'd kidnapped her children.

What did the people around the Sodder family think of their belief that the kids were kidnapped? Did people feel sympathy for them? Did people think they were beside themselves with grief and grasping at straws?

What did the priest say about finding remains the following day? Was the brother who said he also found remains the same brother they thought the kids might have gone to live with?

If so many people here are thinking it is possible they went to Italy (and if the parents were aware of the report that they were seen with 4 Italian speaking men) why was that not one of the places they tried to find them?

It was very moving to me that the mother, upon receipt of the photograph that she believed to be her adult son, framed it and hung it on the wall. What did other people think? People who knew the son, did they think it was him too? Or did they disagree but didn't want to crush her hopes?

What was the fire marshall's response to the organ in the box being proved to be a fresh beef liver? What about the neighbor who said she saw the kids after the fire? Did that story stay the same or change? What about the son who said he tried to shake the children awake...what happened to that story? Did he change it? If he didn't, how did his parents dismiss it? How did they dismiss what the priest and uncle said? As much as a parent might want to hold onto hope, if one of their other children said that the kids were upstairs sleeping...there's not really a way to reason around that, you know?

I want to know what happened...so much...I can't stop thinking about this family.
Also, and I mean no disrespect, but after something like this happens people almost always look at the parents as suspects, right? Was that done here? The things I've read about it, it doesn't seem like there ever was a time that any suspicion at all was on the parents. That seems strange to me...especially since the parents were so adamant that the local fire officials and police force had failed them...it seems an expected response would be for the fire officials and/or police force to implicate the parents.
Also, if it could be an electrical fire and the lights could still be burning...did anyone tell the parents this? If so, what was their reaction? And how did it come about that the cause of the fire was changed? Why didn't the person who saw balls of fire being tossed on the roof stop to help?
why does anyone (neighbours,family in USA,family in Italy, classmate,police,FBI, etc...) show interest and help to find out what happened?
I think a lot of people knew the family all those years, why was only 1 relative trying to find out where the children are?
I think perhaps people feel like they're intruding on a family's private grief. Or maybe most people believed the kids died in the fire. There's really no good outcome.

There is a current discussion going on at this website (well, slowly) that supposedly involves family members who are saying they want to be left alone about it.

There is a current discussion going on at this website (well, slowly) that supposedly involves family members who are saying they want to be left alone about it.

First off, welcome to WS, Sally Kimball.

I read the Topix stuff and the family - if they really are family - members's responses are curious; why would interest in solving a decades-old case be discouraged? That's more of a response I would expect from people protecting the perpetrators of a crime rather than of relatives who themselves must have many questions about what took place. If real family members are in fact being contacted personally about the case, one would understand this reaction. But to take to Topix and post refutations seems far-fetched.

As there's no vetting process there, again, who knows what sort of people are claiming to be family. We would welcome family here as WS attempts to verify such claims, and to grant those qualified a fair platform free of personal attack.
There is a current discussion going on at this website (well, slowly) that supposedly involves family members who are saying they want to be left alone about it.


Wow. All I can say is that if those comments were made by member's of the Sodder family, they must be the next generation great granchildren. This of course is my opinion based on the language used and the lack of respect and kindess that has always been shown to others by the Sodder members that have been active here on Websleuths.

It would be nice to hear from Jonathan, Granddaughter & Sylvia just to see how they are....
I attempted to email Jonathan through his blog (that hadn't been updated in 5 years or so) and it bounced back.

And, of course, you're right. There's no way of knowing if the poster is a family member or not. I can understand a family member not wanting to be discussed any longer.

There's so much we don't know that I wish we did. Like, what the extended family believed happened to the children.

They were either kidnapped which, if the extended family believed they were kidnapped, could make them not want to discuss it out of fear of retribution from those responsible.

If they died in the fire and the extended family believed they died in the fire but Mr. and Mrs. Sodder's grief was so great that they couldn't accept this, I can understand the family not wanting to discuss the Sodder's pain, frailty and inability to accept what had happened.

And, if I recall correctly, the Sodders thought it possible that their relatives in Florida could have taken the children. That seems like the type of thing that might cause a familial rift.

I think that knowing what the people who knew the Sodders the best thought happened to the kids would be an important piece of the puzzle.

I'd also like to know the answers to the following:

Why was the cause of the fire changed?
Where did the photos of the children come from if the house burned down?
Why aren't any of them smiling in the pictures?
What happened to the man who was trying to steal the engines?
Why did the lady who made the late night phone call say she'd called?
Why didn't the bus driver stop to investigate, help or contact authorities?
How long did the fire last?
Can the time the fire lasted (and the probable heat and other factors like whether or not there was a basement) explain why no remains were found?
What was the Sodder's relationship like with their community after the fire?
What did the older sons think happened?
One of them said he tried to wake the younger kids (or one of the younger kids) and couldn't. Did he ever recant this? It seems that if he said he saw the children who possibly died/were kidnapped sleeping in bed during the fire that that would immediately clear the whole case up.
If this case happened today, I think that people would blame the parents...either saying they'd killed the children on purpose or that perhaps the children left home because they were being abused or something. I have never heard anything suggesting the parents might have been involved. I wonder if this is because people reacted differently then or if they were investigated and cleared or if the grief that drove them to tirelessly search and create the billboard was too strong to be questioned.

That last one was difficult to type and I certainly think that there is no evidence of the Sodder's being involved...I'm just wondering why that would probably be the first conclusion drawn today and was one that doesn't seem to have ever been considered in regards to this case.

Thanks for the welcome. I'm glad to be here.
My hunch is the people posting at topix, if family, feel like people are rubbernecking and being ghoulish about a family tragedy. I could see the great grandchildren thinking grandma was nuts and wishing people would stop manipulating grandpa and letting "this kind of nonsense" go on long as they were alive but being upset by it, and then getting upset publicly once those family members were gone. MOO.

Also, unless there were a LOT of perpetrators, I think those kids died in that fire. The boys especially were big enough to raise a fuss and while we like to think it was a more innocent time, stats simply don't bare this out.

I do think it was an arson, but I think no evidence was found of the little ones is all. Fantasizing about perished loved ones being alive and hidden somewhere is a very extremely common reaction to such a horror.
Is it possible for that many kids to burn into nothing in the time the fire had to burn? The older daughter's testimony said that it had burned out by the time the fire dept arrived in the morning. So...maybe from 1 a.m. (on the early side) to 6 a.m. (on the late side)...if they had a basement and the house collapsed turning the basement into a crematorium...would that reduce 5 bodies to nothing? It seems that the experts have completely opposing opinions on this.
that´s a good question

Where did the photos of the children come from if the house burned down?

I can´t imagine mrs.Sodder getting out of the house with her purse inside full of photos of all missing children

is there any photos of the house before burning? I´ven´t seen any

I´d like to see the bedrooms windows, wasn´t possible children did jump out and saved their lives?...... sometimes it is the first floor not that high ,it depends of the kind of construction and if they slept deep or not
My personal suspician is that these children did not all perish in the fire. Even for that time period (1945), the evidence absolutely does not add up to the children burning to death. This case is very "cold"....sometimes, it helps me to just bring up old articles and re-read the "comment" section....something may jump out that leads me to look in another direction. With this case, I feel like I have to look outside the perimeter since everything that is central seems to lead nowhere. On the site I reference below is a post from someone who says she is an attorney....while many comments written in conjunction with articles are authored by complete fruitcakes, this woman sounded legit. I know the subject of the Italian mafia and KKK has been brought up before, but thought this woman's post added a little to those theories. Please accept my apology if this site has been linked by someone else in an earlier post.....Creole
I have never heard of ths story and just looked it up online .
The kids probably died in the fire .
At first I wondered if the folks might have done something but they were so zealous in later years trying to find them that I doubt it .
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