Tue, 1 November 2016
Boy, is this story a doozy. The Mysterious Deaths of the Sodder Children on Christmas Eve, 1945, is one of the most bizarre cases you'll ever hear of, guaranteed.
At first, it seems to be a pretty straightforward case. A house fire in Fayetteville, West Virginia ends with the unfortunate deaths of five children.
However, if you only dig a little bit further -- unintended pun -- you'll come up with the facts in a story that just never can be squared up with reality.
Here are the Outline Show Notes for this Ep:
Christmas Eve, 1945
There were 10 Sodder children.
Sodder was Italian-American. Fayetteville had a vibrant Italian-American population.
George and Jennie -- Parents
Around 1AM a fire broke out.
George and Jennie and four children escaped (one was off in the war)
House layout: the parents lived downstairs; the kids lived upstairs.
The ladder was missing.
Neither of the two vehicles would start.
The ‘phone tree’ that the fire department used was slow, and they didn’t show until 8AM. By that time, the Sodder house was ash and rubble.
A search of the Sodder homestead on Christmas Day revealed no remains of any of the five children.
The fire was attributed to faulty wiring.
After four days of intense grief, George Sodder covered the house / basement over, even though he was told to leave it for an investigation.
This is where things start to get weird.
Death certificates were issued on December 30, 1945.
The Sodders became convinced their kids weren’t in the house.
Jennie Sodder soon became confused about the circumstances of the fire.
No bones? She began doing her own experiments.
A crematorium employee told her bones would remain after burning for 2K degrees for 2 hours.
The wires, a phone co. employee told them, had been cut not burned. Contradicts the narrative.
People reported seeing the kids be carried away the night of the fire.
In 1947, the Sodders hired a Private Investigator named CC Tinsley, who found out that -- get this -- the insurance salesman who had threatened George was a member of the coroner’s jury that deemed the fire an accident.
It continues to get bizarre. FJ Morris, the fire chief of Fayettville, claimed to have found no remains, but a rumor circulated that he’d found a heart in the ashes that he kept in a dynamite box, which he buried at the site. It. Gets. Weirder. The family convinced him to show them the spot. They dug up the box and had it analyzed. Turns out, it wasn’t even a heart. It was a beef liver, a liver, I might add, that the chief admitted to burying himself, supposedly to put the family at ease.
The family becomes frantic, searching for any answers at all. They eventually brought in a pathologist from DC, who managed to find some bones in the scene.
When analyzed, however, the bones turned out NOT to be from any of the children.
They had come from someone else altogether, someone older.
So NO bones from the kids were found. The bones that were found had not been exposed to fire at all, so no dice.
Fast forward twenty years. The Sodders receive a photograph in 1968 that looked very much like their Louis. It had a cryptic message on the back, and they sent a PI to check it out, but never heard from him again.
George died shortly after and Jennie in 1989. The last surviving child, Sylvia, refuses to believe they were in the fire.
Theme: "Ten" by DJ Sun
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The Principled Uncertainty Podcast