Episode 22: Missing Sodder Family Children

What happened to the Sodder children? The five siblings disappeared from their West Virginia home on Christmas Eve night in 1945. What was their fate? Were they kidnapped, murdered or did they meet another tragic fate?

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If traveled down Route 16 near Fayetteville, West Virginia between the 1950s to 1989, you would have passed a billboard featuring the photos of five of the Sodder Family Children. Back then, locals would say the billboard made you feel like the children were staring at you and begging you to help their family. 

The fate of the Sodder children has been shrouded in mystery since Christmas Eve, 1945 when the family home went up in flames. Their mother and father survived the fire along with four of their siblings. Authorities never found the remains of these five children. 

Maurice, Martha, Louis, Jennie and Betty Sodder

At the heart of this story is a family who was destroyed that night. A mother and a father who faced what no parent should have to face – the loss of a child. The loss of five children in one night. 

They lost their home and were robbed time and time again of what every family deserves when they face tragedy and a traumatic loss  – answers. 

What happened to 14 year old Maurice, 12 year old Martha, 9 year old Louis, 8 year old Jennie and 5 year old Betty Sodder? Were these five precious lives consumed by fire? Or were they kidnapped? Murdered?

Those questions have led to countless theories since the Christmas Eve fire consumed the Sodder home in 1945. To know why the question exists, you need to know what happened the night of the fire. What led George and Jennie Sodder to suspect there was more to the story than law enforcement told them in the days following their family’s tragedy.

Episode Sources
Mystery of Missing Children Haunts W.Va. Town. NPR News. 23 December 2005

Author Stacy Horn’s Blog Post about Sodder Mystery Findings in 2005
West Virginia Unsolved Murders & Infamous Crimes by George Bragg
WebSleuths Thread About Sodder Mystery
Smithsonian.com 2012 Feature on Sodder Mystery

Music Credits
Theme Song “Dark & Troubled” by Pantherburn. Special thanks to Phillip St Ours for permission for use.

“Ever Mindful”, “Ambient”, “White Sand Passage”, “Immersed”, “Drone in D”, “Atlantean Twilight” by Kevin MacLeod. Licensed under Creative Commons

Categories: history, mysteries, true crime, truecrime, west virginia

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