A True Crime Christmas Post

Merry Christmas to all of my readers 🙂 And happy holidays to anyone who doesn’t celebrate Christmas. Wherever you are, I hope you are having a lovely day today. Come click into this post to see my Christmas gift to you!

Considering Cold Cases’ Favourite Blogs

As a very generous gift from myself, I’m giving my readers the gift of some great new blogs to read. These three in particular are expertly written and run by some nice folks 🙂

CrimeBlogger1983

An American blogger who picks interesting, obscure cases and covers them really in-depth, sometimes in multiple parts. He also posts updates to former cases to make sure his readers never miss anything. Seriously, one of the most in-depth blogs out there, you can really get into a rabbit hole with this one. The focus is American unsolved murders and disappearances.

True Crime Enthusiast

One of the best, and he posts so often, you’ll never get bored. Luckily for us, he has recently started a podcast! Get on this while its hot guys! If you love UK crime, you need this podcast and blog in your life. Thank me later.

The True Crime Files

The last spot on my mini-list goes to Christine over at The True Crime Files. She’s a great writer who picks some really interesting cases you’ve probably never heard of! If you’re Canadian, you need to be reading this one. Also great for everyone else in the world, because I bet many people couldn’t name 5 Canadian crimes, so you’ll have lots of new material to read!

Well if you weren’t sure what to get me for Christmas (don’t tell me you forgot my gift?!) you can just go and follow those three blogs!

Sodder Children Mini-Post

 

What’s Christmas without a discussion of the Sodder children? I’m sure every family is into this Christmas tradition. Just a short post because I’m too busy eating gingerbread cookies to be writing a full post.

On Christmas Eve (December 24), 1945, a fire broke out in Fayetteville, West Virginia, United States. George Sodder lived in his Fayetteville home with his wife and nine of their children (they had ten total). The home was 3km outside of the town. On Christmas Eve, the home was engulfed in flames it what may be an arson attack. The subsequent investigation was botched and the remains of five of the children were never identified, leading the family to believe the fire was a deliberate distraction to cover up a kidnapping.

At 12:30am, after the family had gone to sleep, the phone rang, and was answered by the matriarch of the house, Jennie. An unfamiliar woman’s voice was on the other line, asking for someone Jennie had never heard of. The woman let out a strange laugh after being told she had reached the wrong number.

At 1am, Jennie woke again and heard something hitting the roof of the home with a thud. She drifted back to sleep again for half an hour before wakening again, seeing that the house was on fire. Jennie and her husband George were able to escape the home with four of their children, but five of them were still inside. Or were they?

The fire department did not respond until 8am Christmas morning (7 hours later). Complications with the phone and reaching the department slowed things down. It was also wartime (World War II) and the fire department was short-staffed. The Sodders had to watch their home burn down.

George Sodder cited multiple factors that he believes indicates the fire was intentional. His ladder that he would have used to reach his children in the attic was nowhere to be seen. It was later found at the bottom of an embankment 20 metres away. George tried to use his trucks to reach the attic, but neither of them would start. The phone line did not work.

On Christmas morning, now that the firefighters were able to reach the scene, the ruins of the house were looked through. It is believed that the firefighters did not do a thorough search, but in any case, they informed the Sodders that no bone fragments were found, despite the fact that five children were supposed to have perished in the fire. It was supposed that the remains could have been entirely cremated in the fire, though there has been debate on this ever since. It is unknown if there really were no remains, if they were cremated, or if there were remains that were overlooked. George Sodder bulldozed the area four days after the fire.

(The missing Sodder children: Maurice, Martha, Louis, Jennie, Betty)

This had led the Sodder family to believe that the five children were kidnapped and the fire set deliberately to cover it up. The family erected a large billboard that would line the local highway for decades.

(Jennie and George Soddder in front of their billboard)

Sightings of the Sodder children have been reported in the years afterward. Just the day after the fire, a woman claimed that she served them all breakfast at the diner where she worked. George Sodder once saw a girl in a newspaper who he thought looked like his daughter and drove all the way to New York City (today that drive takes 9 hours) to demand to see the girl in person, though he was refused. A woman said that one daughter was being held in a convent in St. Louis. Someone in Texas claimed to have overheard two other people at a bar “making incriminating statements about a fire that happened on Christmas Eve in West Virginia some years before”. In Houston, a woman claimed that two young men had confessed to her when drunk that they were the missing Sodder children. Texas police later talked to the men, who denied it.

In 1967, twenty two years after the fire, the family received a photograph in the mail purporting to be of one of the Sodder sons, Louis. On the back was signed “Louis Sodder / I love brother Frankie / Ilil boys / A90132 or 35” 

(The photo of ‘Louis’ that the family received in the mail)

George Sodder died in 1969, and Jennie Sodder died in 1989. It was only after Jennie’s death that the billboard finally came down. Both Sodder parents died believing that their children had been abducted on that Christmas Eve in 1945.

What do you think readers? Were the Sodder children abducted or did they actually perish in the fire on Christmas Eve 1945?

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