Their fate: kidnapped, murdered or still alive

This is a case that haunts me since i first read about it. Its about the disappearance of the sodder children so here is the story

On christmas Eve 1945, the Sodders celebrated. Marion, the oldest daughter, had been working at a dime store in downtown Fayetteville, and she surprised three of her younger sisters—Martha, 12, Jennie, 8, and Betty, 6—with new toys she had bought for them there as gifts. The younger children were so excited that they asked their mother if they could stay up past what would have been their usual bedtime.[6] At 10:00 p.m., Jennie told them they could stay up a little later, as long as the two oldest boys who were still awake, 14-year-old Maurice and his 10-year-old brother Louis, remembered to put the cows in and feed the chickens before going to bed themselves. Her husband and the two oldest boys, John, 23 and George Jr., 16, who had spent the day working with their father, were already asleep. After reminding the children of those remaining chores, she took Sylvia, then 2, upstairs with her and went to bed herself.

The telephone rang at 12:30 a.m. Jennie woke and went downstairs to answer it. It was a woman whose voice she did not recognize, asking for a name she was not familiar with, with the sound of laughter and clinking glasses in the background. She told the caller she had reached a wrong number, later recalling the woman’s “weird laugh”. She hung up and returned to bed. As she did, she noticed that the lights were still on and the curtains were not drawn, two things the children normally attended to when they stayed up later than their parents. Marion had fallen asleep on the living room couch, so Jennie assumed the other children who had stayed up later had gone back up to the attic where they slept.[1] She closed the curtains, turned out the lights, and returned to bed.

At 1:00 a.m. Jennie was again awakened by a sound of an object hitting the house’s roof with a loud bang, then a rolling noise. After hearing nothing further, she went back to sleep. After another half hour she woke up again, smelling smoke. When she got up again she found that the room George used for his office was on fire, around the telephone line and fuse box. She woke him and he in turn woke his older sons.

Both parents and four of their children—Marion, Sylvia, and the two older boys—escaped the house. They frantically called to the children upstairs but heard no response; they could not go up there as the stairway itself was already aflame. John Sodder said in his first police interview after the fire that he went up to the attic to alert his siblings sleeping there, though he later changed his story to say that he only called up there and did not actually see them.

Efforts to find, aid, and rescue the children were unexpectedly complicated. The phone did not work, so Marion ran to a neighbor’s to call the fire department. A driver on the nearby road had also seen the flames and called from a nearby tavern; they were unsuccessful either because they could not reach the operator or because the phone there turned out to be broken. Either the neighbor or the passing motorist was eventually successful in reaching the fire department from another phone in the center of town.

George, barefoot, climbed the wall and broke open an attic window, cutting his arm in the process. He and his sons intended to use a ladder to the attic to rescue the other children, but it was not in its usual spot resting against the house and could not be found anywhere nearby. A water barrel that could have been used to extinguish the fire was frozen solid. George then tried to pull both of the trucks he used in his business up to the house and use them to climb to the attic window, but neither of them would start despite having worked perfectly during the previous day.

Frustrated, the six Sodders who had escaped had no choice but to watch the house burn down and collapse over the next 45 minutes. They assumed the other five children had perished in the blaze. The fire department, low on manpower due to the war and relying on individual firefighters to call each other, did not respond until later that morning. Chief F.J. Morris said the next day that the already slow response was further hampered by his inability to drive the fire truck, requiring that he wait until someone who could was available.

The firefighters, one of whom was a brother of Jennie’s, could do little but look through the ashes that were left in the Sodders’ basement. By 10:00 a.m. Morris told the Sodders that they had not found any bones, as might have been expected if the other children had been in the house as it burned. According to another account, they did find a few bone fragments and internal organs, but chose not to tell the family; it has also been noted by modern fire professionals that their search was cursory at best. Nevertheless, Morris believed that the five children unaccounted for had died in the fire, suggesting it had been hot enough to burn their bodies completely.

So, this family was convinced that all the children made it out and followed several leads including supposed letters from one of the sons.

One Comment Add yours

  1. Mel obrien says:

    That is so sad i personally think they were murdered


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