What Was the Fate of the Five Sodder Children?

From left: Maurice (14), Martha (12), Louis (10), Jennie (8), Betty (6)

From left: Maurice (14), Martha (12), Louis (10), Jennie (8), Betty (6)

On Christmas Eve of 1945 in Fayetteville, West Virginia, George and Jennie Sodder had been celebrating the Christmas season with nine of their ten children.  Their son, Joe, was away in the Army.  As the night grew later George retired for the night to bed followed shortly after by his sons John (23) and George Jr. (16).  When Jennie decided it was time for the rest of the children to go to bed, they pleaded with her to stay up and play with their toys that their older sister, Marian (17), had gotten for them.  After her children promised her that they would get a few chores done before bed, Jennie agreed to let them continue playing and then took her youngest child, Sylvia (3) to bed with her.

The phone ringing awoke Jennie a little past midnight.  Jennie answered the phone and a woman asked to speak to someone Jennie didn’t know.  When Jennie told her she had the wrong number the woman laughed and hung up.  Jennie thought this was just a prank call and didn’t give it much thought.  She then noticed that the lights were still on in the house and the doors were unlocked.  She found this unusual because her kids were normally very good about attending to these things before bed.  She turned off the lights, locked the doors and went back to sleep.

Jennie had barely fallen back asleep when she heard a thump on the roof followed by the sound of something rolling.  She realized the house was on fire around 1:30 AM.  She screamed for her husband and children to get out.  The oldest boys, John and George Jr. made it out of the house as well as the oldest girl, Marian who ran out with baby Sylvia.  Jennie and George also made it out.

Jennie with son, John

Jennie with son, John

When George was outside and saw that five of his children were still inside he tried everything possible to re-enter the home and save them.  He first broke a window and in doing that cut his arm.  Through all the smoke he saw that flames covered the entire first floor of the house.  He then ran to a rain barrel to get buckets of water to try to extinguish the fire, but to his dismay found the water to be frozen solid in the cold winter.  Thinking quickly, he ran to where he always kept his ladder, but it had mysteriously vanished.  He attempted and failed to climb the house by hand.  In one last attempt he and he sons thought to pull their work trucks up to the house to climb on them to get inside the top floor.  Their terrible luck continued when they found that the trucks would not start due to the frigid weather.

In the meantime, Marian had run to a neighbor’s house to call the fire department.  At first the operator could not be reached to place the call and when finally they did reach the operator each of the town’s firemen had to be called, woken up, and dispatched to the scene.  The fire station was less than three miles from the Sodder home, but the firemen didn’t get there until 8 AM. and it was far to late because the house burned to the ground in less than 45 minutes of the fire starting.

The police arrived on the scene in the morning and after only a two hour investigation, concluded that the fire was started by faulty wiring.  George argued that that couldn’t be because he had just gotten the wiring redone and the lights had stayed on for a time after the fire started.

The reports at the time claimed that there had been no remains whatsoever found in the ash and rubble.  It was ruled by the coroner’s jury that the missing Sodder children had died in the fire.

A few days after the fire George Sodder plowed over what was left of his home and planted flowers there in memory of his children though the Fire Marshall advised against doing so.

George and Jennie believed that their children had been kidnapped and that the fire was intentionally set to cover the crime scene.  And there were witnesses and rumors that supported that belief:

A strange man was witnessed stealing from the Sodder’s garage has the fire was burning.  He had stolen their ladder and attempted to cut their power line, but instead cut the phone line.  The ladder was found away from the house down an embankment.  For some strange reason this man was never closely looked at as a suspect.  He was only ordered to pay fines for stealing.

There was a bus driver who saw “fireballs” being thrown onto the house before the fire started.  This claim was further backed up the following spring when little Sylvia found a green shell in the yard.  The Sodder’s showed the object to a military friend who believed it to be an explosive device similar to a napalm bomb.

There was a woman who claimed to have seen the children in a passing car when the fire was in progress.

A woman at a tourist stop 50 miles west of the Sodder home says she saw the kids the morning after the fire and served them breakfast.  They left in a vehicle with Florida license plates.

Yet another woman believed she saw four of the five missing children at her hotel in Charleston, South Carolina.  She said they were with two men and two women and that she tried to speak to the children, but the adults looked hostile and wouldn’t allow it.  They then spoke to the kids in Italian and that whole party stopped speaking to her.  According to her they checked in near midnight, but the exact date she couldn’t remember.  They left early the next morning.  Most people believed that her story was not reliable enough for further investigation.

Jennie did her own research using chicken bones in the stove and could never get them completely destroyed be the fire.  Her and George’s belief was strengthened more when another local home was burned to the ground and seven skeletons were found in the debris.

With all of these possible leads, the Sodder’s went to the authorities to have their case re-opened, but the police refused because they believed no crime had taken place.

In 1949 George, with the help of others, dug up the site of his former home looking for any remains that may have been overlooked.

Reports claimed that pieces of bone and possible human organs had been found.  The organ found was tested in a lab and found to be a relatively fresh beef liver.  Some say that it was planted there in an attempt to cover shoddy police work.  It was reported that four pieces of vertebrae and two small bones, possibly belonging to a child’s hand had been found.  A medical expert involved in the case stated that it would be very unlikely for all the other remains to be destroyed in such a quick burning fire.  This expert believed the remains came from a 14 or 15 year old child, which would match Maurice’s age.  George did not believe these bones belonged to his son because of the location that they were found.  Years later after more testing on the bones, another expert stated that the remains belonged to a person between 16 to 22 years of age and that the bones showed no signs of being damaged in a fire.  Some think that the bones were placed there from a nearby graveyard as a cover-up, but there is nothing that supports these theories.

Six years after the tragedy the Sodder’s made one last attempt to find new leads on their case.  They put up a billboard at the site of the fire with the pictures of all five of their missing children along with the story of what happened that night.  They even offered a $5,000 reward to anyone who could find their children.  Without any luck they raised the reward to $10,000 but still to no avail.


In 1968 a detective wrote an article about the events that took place that Christmas Eve years ago.  A few months after the article was published the Sodder’s received a photo in the mail, postmarked from Kentucky, but with no return address, that was claiming to be of their son Louis as an adult.  A message on the back of the picture read “Louis Sodder. I love brother Frankie. Ilil Boys. A90132 or (A90135)”  Most thought that this was just a hoax brought on by the article, but the Sodder’s thought it to be a sign that their children were still alive.  George and Jennie hired a private investigator who left for Kentucky to follow leads on the photo and then vanished and was never heard from again.

Mystery person who claimed to be Louis Sodder.

Mystery person who claimed to be Louis Sodder.

The person in the photo is a mystery to this day as well as the identity of the person who sent the photo.  People who have gotten intrigued with the Sodder’s story and have studied the case point out that George owned a coal-trucking business.  At the time this industry was under a lot of pressure from the Mafia, so some thought the gang was involved with the disappearances of the children.  After all, the Sodder’s were of Italian descent and the number “90132” that was on the back of the photo was, at the time, the postal code for Palermo, Sicily.

George Sodder died in 1969 and Jennie in 1989.  The majority of people believe that the Sodder children perished in the fire that night and that the Sodder’s just refused to accept it.  There are also those who believe the kids were kidnapped and taken to Italy.  The youngest Sodder Child, Sylvia, who was only an infant at the time, is still trying to find out what happened to her siblings that night.

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86 Responses to What Was the Fate of the Five Sodder Children?

  1. Everyone loves what you guys tend to be up too. This type of clever work and exposure!
    Keep up thee vrry good works guys I’ve added yyou guys to myy blogroll.

    • Megan says:


    • Shelia R Lutz says:

      This young man appears to be wearing a bird or an eagle necklace worn in the 60s and wearing a white shirt- he is standing against a wood (possible paneling) apparently outside surface? I say outside because of the lighting and shadows- this isn’t a candid shot looks like the man was poised and he looking to something off camera – so why ? I’m trying to figure out why the photo was sent possibly by someone that remembered the case possibly ran across this young man and thought there was a resemblance? so this pictured could have been taken in Italy and sent to Ky and then forwarded? Does the remaining sister think it is her brother? Or was it a deliberate false lead or a very tasteless sick joke?

  2. trisha says:

    Has anyone considered that number maybe an inmate number

    • Kate Sarginson says:

      Wow what a great idea. I just discovered this story this morning and am thoroughly interested in this sad story. Trisha you are certainly thinking outside the box. I wonder if someone could check that out for us?

      • Ilse Klein Velderman says:

        I have checked some databases and altough my access is limited. There was not such number in de system.

        I was thinking that the the IIiI boys stood for the boys that went missing. And then the A being roman numeral for 5

    • Heidi Taylor says:

      That is immediately what I thought.

    • Linda says:

      What about the number being Rank in Military? Who is Frankie?

      • Michelle says:

        I’ve always been so intrigued and saddened by this story. As a child I remember seeing the billboard and thinking how awful it would be for the children. Now as an adult I am still intrigued and think on it often. I also wonder why the children never tried to return home or get in touch with family after becoming adults.

    • MonicaP says:

      The numbers are postal codes in Sicily, Italy

    • Karen Beck says:

      Has anyone wondered how Maria got upstairs and let the lights be on the door unlocked and the curtains open. Why didn’t she take care of all that if the siblings had gone up to bed without doing it?

      • Karen L Beck says:

        Exactly. Why wasn’t Marian questioned more then John. She is more unexplainable then John. How did she go through all those kids laughing and playing and not be some what awake. I still wonder what was happening within the family.

      • shelia says:

        Good insight , as for not being questioned more; mothers are revered in most cultures and the “unthinkable” is foremost in the majority of minds.

  3. Pingback: Case of the Month: the Sodder Children

  4. Dan W says:

    the clue on the back of the picture said “Ilove brother Frankie.” Could that be Louis trying to point the finger to someone that had to do with it? The Fire Cheif was “F.J. Morris,” could the F stand for Frankie? And why did they not show up until way after the fire had burned? The fire starter was a “Pinapple Bomb”. A Fire expert like the chief would know how to make something like that. I bet he had something to do with it.

  5. sue says:

    pic definitely looks like an older louis. i guarantee they were kidnapped for some reason. And funny how the PI just disappeared. Thats what happens when you try to thwart the mafia. the door was already unlocked when she got the call. The kids were already gone.

    • Nathan M says:

      I agree

    • susan giordano says:

      I absolutely agree – that photo is him!!!

      • Cathy Dewey says:

        p.i. could have just dissapeared with the money. the supposed adult louis does not have the same ears. ive always heard that is how the fbi tells the most on a missing person. could have been pinned back or appearance altered. it doesn’t make sense that bodies werent found, especially since the other house fire had seven bodies found. Something is very fishy. i would venture a guess, that if the kids were kidnapped, they had been grabbed when doing chores outside by the ppl throwing the fire balls. The mother at some point came down and thought the children had gone to bed and she locked the door, possibly locking them out. They may have realized the children were out there and decided to take them. Sad story. prob never know the truth

      • naima leila says:

        But children doing chores after midnight??? outside??? a 6 and 8years old children??? the elder sister was with them so what happened did she left them playing and went sleeping?? or did they all go sleeping and then the fire occured?? it’s obvious that the children were missing when the mother wakd up at midnight to answer the phone!!! and just didn’t realize it then, if they were outside she could had hear them but all was quiet!! if they were taken during the fire, the others member of the familly would had see at least a shadow of one of them leaving or being abducted!!! we need more details about everybody wherabout and what exactly happened before the fire.

  6. susan j. sager says:

    Odd that these “children” have never made an attempt to get in touch, as adults, with living sister and brother.

    I know who I am and I know how to get in touch with my sister or brother or other caring family members no matter what state they live in.

    • LJohnson says:

      They might have been brainwashed to believe they were given away or something…

      • Syeada Dashter says:

        What about the 14 year old? You don’t forget stuff from when your that old. I can still remember things from when I was that age, and a kidnapping and a fire seem like big things to forget.

    • Sarah says:

      If they were kidnapped, obviously they were in danger…

  7. jrachelle13 says:

    The number on the photo may be an Army enlistment number. My father’s is the same, begins with an A followed by numbers. They were issued and used before Social Security Numbers. Since this was an Italian family in 1945, what was the town climate like towards anyone other than white folks? It might be relevant.

  8. Rodrigo Marin Ovalle says:

    Assuming that a kidnapping took place, What happened to Marian (17)? Why didn´t they take her as well? Or Did she go to sleep before her siblings? On another web site, I read she was sleeping in the living room. If that’s the case, How did her siblings “leave her” without saying anything?. Also, the phone call is very intriguing. What was the purpose for it? If the fire was due to Mafia retaliation, Wouldn’t have been easier to just set the house on fire, while everyone was sleeping? And who was the identity the woman on the phone called for?. To me, this seems like a message from the mafia. But going to such great lengths, as to hinder every possible way to reenter the house and asking for assistance, either seems like a very unplausible coincidence or a very nasty (and sadly larger) conspiracy.

    • Nathan M says:

      I WOULD say that the call was to distract or misdirect attention from the fire, that would be the most logical thing, but if that were true, then they need to work on their timing. If they were trying to distract from the fire, they should have made the call later in the night. It sounds to me like just another layer to the mystery. Was one of the two women at the hotel on the phone? If so many people saw the children with people in different parts of the country, why all the trouble to make it seem like they were killed in the fire. They clearly did not die in the fire, everything points away from it, so why all the trouble? It’s truly baffling.

  9. karen beck says:

    why wasn’t Marion asked more questions about whether the kids made it to upstairs
    I really think the police knew more. How can decendants of the police not know what happened and keep it in the family closet

    • Sara says:

      I agree, I truly do think the police are hiding what they know because they were probably payed to keep their mouths shut. Which would explain their great length’s to convince the Sodder family that their children had simply deceased in the fire and wrote their death certificates so quickly. My guess is the mafia has something to do with it and payed the police off, as it is commonly known for mafia’s to have an alliance with the police to continue their schemes without getting caught.

  10. Is all part of the many branches of secret societies, and Mafia is one of them. May the good power of the universe help the good people of earth.

  11. kim says:

    who was Frankie??? Why didnt anyone investigate the missing of the private investigator?? Why didnt anyone go to Kentucky? Why didnt anyone look into George Sodder business employees.. Why didnt any of the local police search any futher??? So many what if’s , but now with all the advances someone probably could dig up that site and test and check into all the leads again and may find something.. I dont think those children were upstairs, I think the unlocked door was a sign that they were already gone. I think the strange call from a lady was a sign to make sure the Sodders were home or maybe someone with some guilt that could not say anything.. I think someone now should really open this case back up and dig and pry…

  12. lilladyj says:

    Can they excavate the site again, now? They could test any structure remains for signs of arson. Maybe confirm that no human remains are undiscovered. I do not believe they perished in the fire. Obviously they were taken, lured out…and I also think that the surviving siblings should have been looked at further. One article said the oldest brother, John, refused to discuss the children and fire…did he have something to hide???

  13. LT. says:

    This is a rather intriguing case. I have looked at the picture sent to the Sodders of “Louis” and the picture as a child just up above and as a Forensic Anthropology/Archaeology major I can say that without a doubt in my mind that is Louis Sodder as an adult. The same chin, same forehead, same eyebrows, same eye shape, same nose…also, with regards to what the note said on the back of the photograph…I believe the A09132 to be a number denoting something…such as a military ID number or a prison inmate ID number as some others have mentioned. I feel this way because of what follows:
    Louis Sodder
    I love brother Frankie
    Ilil boys
    A90132 or 35

    It says OR 35. This could mean that the person in the photograph is number A90132 or A90135. I believe that if it was the Italian Mafia who kidnapped the Sodder children, I believe (since it seems there was literally ZERO investigative effort in this case) that it is possible that the Italians paid the department to not look into the case…there are just too many leads that were not followed up on to not have been some sort of conspiracy involved.

    • Scottish guy says:

      At that time and to this day the Mafia and the elite work together to increase profit do each other favours anything to get more money more power .if it was mafia then it was because dad never done as he was told and as for the kids the elite (only people above the elite are the Rothschild’s) can make them vanish for ever .if they don’t want you to find them you won’t Or for some reason the fire did get hot enough to turn bone to ash in places.All that’s left are conspiracy’s.

    • Kimberly Stephens says:

      I don’t think both sets of number were on the back of the photo. I believe “A9013” was there with the last number being 2 or 5, but not quite legible.

    • Monika Bauer-Csopak says:

      I disagree with you. You may have studied in depth Anthropology but you cannot see the young boy’s forehead due to his hairstyle and the young man has much fuller lips. The nose look similar but I doubt that they have identical eyes. Could be someone taking the mick out of the parents imo.

  14. Chris says:

    Idea with media the way it is as many people as possible should post,facebook ect the Adult picture that’s suppose to be Louise Sodder and maybe someone will recognize the picture, if its not him may the person who it is may step up or maybe if its a relative some one might come forward. Its may spark someones memory and social media is everywhere now a days and is far reaching. I never even hear of this family till I stumbled across a old news story.

  15. Carter says:

    I have been researching this story for a long time, ever since I first saw it in RD. For some reason it just has stuck with me, I haven’t been able to get it out of my mind. In my family there are many detectives, police, and others of that sort. I have had them research some of this story, my uncle especially has access to any and every database there is. We have found some interesting stuff, but nothing that hasn’t basically been said already.
    My personal opinion is this. The father pissed off some people, the wrong people. He had to be involved with the mafia somehow, whether he wanted to be or not. Perhaps his parents were in it, and that is why he fled Italy. Back then (even now) the Italian Mafia especially was heartless. I think that they sent some guys to screw with this family. First they had someone scope out their schedules (with the guy watching the children come home from school). Then they got the right people involved. I think that when the mom came downstairs awoken by the mysterious call, the children were gone by then. They then had someone calling to see if they had noticed by then, because if the mother did she would’ve been freaking out. And the glasses and the laughing in the background was them celebrating. I think that either they meant to set the fire, trying to cover up their tracks, or that they just got lucky and had more happened that what was meant to happen. I honestly think that this was all a mission for kidnapping the children. The rolling noise was most likely a bomb of some sort, starting the fire. And the ladder being missing, and trucks not starting, all of that is too much of an coincidence to actually be a believable coincidence. Then the mafia payed the fire chief or police or someone else higher up, to make sure that this case wasn’t looked into too much. That was extremely common back then. That’s why the took their sweet time getting out to the fire. And how the guy who came to his house trying to sell insurance threatened him, then it came out that he was on the jury who overruled this case, that was way too obvious. And then you have the picture that was sent from Kentucky. That was some sort of code. It was undoubtedly the same boy. With the “I love brother Frankie,” I think that was most likely a relative, and the boy was saying he was okay, but also giving a hint as to where he was at. With the area code of Italy, and the other numbers on the back. Then you have the investigator that was sent out to Kentucky, now yes, it could’ve been just a scam, taking advantage of the poor family. But, the Mafia could’ve found out about it, and took/killed him as well.
    To be honest, I absolutely KNOW there is someone out there that knows more about this case, and just isn’t sharing. There simply has to be. A family member, close friend, someone who knows the truth, it’s just up to that person to revel it. And with all of the social media and technology we have today, we’re closer than we ever could be about finding it. We just have to keep looking in the right places.

    • kristina says:

      I Have read so much on this story my report for school is all about it I have come up with conclusions and ideas and opinions and it absolutely is bone chilling to wonder if you’ve seen one of these kids before and not know it was them. I am not their parents but it absolutely tears me apart to know that we could possibly never find out what happend to these babies.. What definitly got me. Why!!! Why!! Didn’t anyone try and find the missing investigator that went to Kentucky but never returned? That is extremely weird! But anyways I have posted to Facebook everywhere hoping someone will stand out and tell the truth! Hopefully one day we will know.

    • Thing is, and I’m no expert, but if the mafia did this to send them a message, wouldn’t George (at least) have known this entire thing was a message? Would he and his wife have continued the search for so long and with so much dedication if they knew why this had happened? I mean, what would be the point of the mafia sending them a message if the person receiving it never realized it was a message at all?
      Otherwise the whole thing you wrote sounds plausible – but I would think that if it were true, George would have known what was happening and wouldn’t have risked the mafia’s wrath by stirring up so much fuss in his search for the children.

      • Monika Bauer-Csopak says:

        The fact that the family kept searching means not a lot to me. Look at the Madeleine McCann case. That child is long dead imo – based on long research and the available documents of original files – the so-called fund, that the parents set up to find her is not really a fund but a limited company, which was used to pay their mortgage and pay legal fees for suing people, yet the UK government keeps pumping money into it…

  16. Dawn Marley says:

    Would have not made more sense for the mafia to destroy everyone in a fire and cover up that crime instead of leaving some alive and some missing???

    • Anastasia says:

      If it was done by the mafia, the question would be why? As others have mentioned the mafia had more control of businesses and towns during those days. The father was a successful business man who ran a business that benefited the mafia in many ways. If the father was involved with the mafia, he might have said no to them on a job or perhaps the mafia requested the father join their organization and he said no. If scenario 1 happened the mafia wouldn’t necessarily want to destroy everyone, but rather would like to remind “dad” who is in control and they know that they can make the younger kids do whatever they want, but not the older kids. Scenario 2 would again be about control and showing who has the power. As much as people like to believe that the Mafia will kill whomever, that just isn’t true. Think about it…you can’t control the dead and the dead can’t make you money. Controlling people with fear…that makes the most sense. Once you are able to control them with fear, reward them for being loyal. You’ll get the most bang for your buck. So yeah, if I was the mafia I would kidnap the youngest kids (5 kids that sends a message to dad) and tell them stories about how bad their parents are and reward them to see my side. Probably break up the kids put them with some nice families that were mafia supporters. Kids get treated well, become one of the family and grow up hearing and seeing how the mafia cares for their own and what happens to outsiders or naysayers. Doing this would encourage those kids to not talk about what happened or poke around once they’re adults. Plus, think about it…10 kids…sounds like at least 7 of them at home being supported by mom and dad. Kidnapped kids that go to nice families with less kids are probably going to get more nice things and attention. I get that the family was well off but they weren’t millionaires, nor would they be able to rest on their laurels and be able to lavish undivided attention on the kids.

      • naima leila says:

        Ok i get it, and i’m with you if it was a message the dad would had understand and he could 1 keep silent or 2 made a fuss and told everybody pointing the men who contacted him, plus all the town covering up fr that and at least 3 private investigators going missing!! that could be the mafia; if the mafia would ‘d send a message a child or two could’d suffise why 5 it is two much especially withe the two olders 14 and 12 they never would forget their parents and rothers and sisters even if they were placed in better famillies, sure the never could join their familliers or relatives as children but as adults they had could at least contact someone!!! and aducting 5 children is too much!! killing just one or two ok but 5 disapeared!!! why not a case of sold children for rich people but here too the olders were not suitable unless it was to make it easy to keep the younger silent and obedient if the two olders are with them!! i doubt they kept the children alive at least the olders or the 14 years old boy they sure had to dispose of him, he was too dangerous he could do anything to return but may be he couldn’t abondon the others, and why is just a photo of one child
        where is the phots of the remaining five!!!it not seems real and i am sure the numbers are not for sicilly but some sort of code !! what is Ilil boys??

  17. Sophie says:

    I thought about the words on the picture and thought; ‘Hey, what if it meant About 90132 or 35? An address, perhaps?’

    I typed in 90135 and 90132 in Google Maps and found a street in Indianapolis called Kentucky Ave which shared both of these addresses and double checked by looking up 135 and 132 for houses on Kentucky Avenue and sure enough, 132 and 135 Kentucky Avenue, Indianapolis are real addresses. According to Sylvia’s grand-daughter the original picture had a window that would match one of these houses.

  18. Sophie says:

    I thought about the words on the picture and thought; ‘Hey, what if it meant About 90132 or 35? An address, perhaps?’

    I typed in 90135 and 90132 in Google Maps and found a street in Indianapolis called Kentucky Ave which shared both of these addresses and double checked by looking up 135 and 132 for houses on Kentucky Avenue and sure enough, 132 and 135 Kentucky Avenue, Indianapolis are real addresses. According to Sylvia’s grand-daughter the original picture had a window that would match one of these houses.

    Of course it’s just a suggestion, it’s more logical if it was something else entirely.

  19. Sophie Khalil says:

    I thought about the words on the picture and thought; ‘Hey, what if it meant About 90132 or 35? An address, perhaps?’

    I typed in 90135 and 90132 in Google Maps and found a street in Indianapolis called Kentucky Ave which shared both of these addresses and double checked by looking up 135 and 132 for houses on Kentucky Avenue and sure enough, 132 and 135 Kentucky Avenue, Indianapolis are real addresses. According to Sylvia’s grand-daughter the original picture had a window that would match one of these houses.

    Of course it’s just a suggestion, it’s more logical if it was something else entirely.

  20. Crack'er says:

    Do a DNA test of surviving children or grandchildren and run it through all of the national DNA bank for criminals. If these kids were taken, then their lives were likely not ideal leading possibly to criminal activity. What is there to lose?

  21. Christopher Marino says:

    Could he be “brother Frankie”? That he is known to the local folks as brother Frankie because he is a brother and teacher in a catholic school? The postal code is the area where he lives.

  22. michellemcclelland says:

    To me, the evidence is clear that the missing children were not in the home during the fire and that the fire was arson. I won’t waste anyone’s time pointing out those facts, as I’m sure you have come to the same conclusion.

    But, a few things stand out:

    1. The same children who were missing are the same ones who asked to stay up late to play with toys with the provision that the boys of the group “feed the cows and close the chicken coop”. http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~wvrcbiog/WhatReallyHappenedToChildrena.html
    As I wondered why Marian, who slept in the living room, presumably where they kids were playing with the toys she bought them, did not send the kids to bed and turn off the lights before sleeping, I thought back on the chores…the cows and chicken coop. I surmise that she sent all of them to complete these chores and fell asleep with the lights on. I think the children were outside when the perpetrators were coming to burn down the house.
    2. The guy caught stealing during the fire. WTF? There is just no way that he didn’t have some role in fire. He even admitted to cutting the “power” (which apparently ended up being the phone line). It would seem that he also moved the ladder (to keep anyone inside from escaping?). But pretty brazen to stay round during a blaze to rip off some things. But he was never considered a suspect for the fire, only charged for theft. What if the theft was a cover up for him not getting away from the arson before George and Jennie came out?
    3. Loose ends: How did the boys in the attic sleep through the fire bombs if they were on a floor above their mom. Was it too smoky for them to see if they needed to scoop up on of their siblings whom they would have expected to be up there with them? What was Marian’s account? Did she say she saw the kids go to bed? Also, oddly, in one news account Jennie runs outside with the baby. In another account she hands off the baby to Marian while she calls up to the attic. Probably just bad coverage, but…And what about the fire chief? Total weirdness…he has to wait for someone to show up at the station who “can” drive a fire truck?? And in a small town it takes 7 hours to show up…even with the time it took for them to call each other? And him planting the cow heart in the rubble to get the family to stop looking for the kids?

    Anyway I don’t believe the kids are alive. I resisted the urge to call upon a Mafia conspiracy as others have done, but there is no disputing dad had a “loud mouth” [my words] and it does seem someone expected to take them all out. I think the only reason the kids were not in the fire is because they were outside and got scooped up. I don’t believe kidnapping was the intent, only to keep them quiet. And I don’t believe they were allowed to live.

    I wish we had the interviews the cops did!! That would help!

    • naima leila says:

      Can i make up a super odd probability??? those are not a happy familly photos for happy children!!! they seem sad and uptight, what if something was going on in this familly of “10 CHILDREN”!! why the older one didn’t want to talk about the fire after that?? what happened with the sister sleeping in the couch??? why the 5 remaining that night all disepeared?? what chores to do afer midnight when you have just 6 years old,?? what if something terrible happened to them at home and they decided to flee, or the olders decided to save the five yougers, but then the baby of three was still with the parents, but that meke sense!!, if the fire started at the roof how did the boys make it to escape and at first how did they not suffocated for an hour and half or not noticed the fre or at least waked up from the heat??!!! i am sur the guy who was supposed to cut the phone cable was ther when the fire was on not before because of the phone call just before the rolling sound !!! he was there he saw it all, may be a group of people from the town decided to help hide the children , if not the 5 were killed right after that night, a 6 years old girl would have cried and screamed if someone try to approach her unless her 14 yeras old brother told her not to!! and it’s ok !!

  23. Mjblazeit420 says:

    Someone said they saw a car driving away with the children with California drivers license plates.. The number on the back of the photograph 90132 is actually also a the number of Italy Avenue, San Francisco, CA, USA, the ‘A’ before 90132 or 90135 representing ‘area’ then the number which you search and both ’35 and 32′ come up the same place, he could be in California….

  24. i farted says:

    there is a grammar mistake with the part of the trying to burn the chicken bones couldn’t be the fire it is really by

  25. Pingback: Ep. 25 – The Burning – The Conspirators Podcast

  26. Sheila says:

    Very intriguing mystery. Would 💘 to help unravel it.

  27. Seems to me that the mother inadvertently locked her kids out of the house. They may have still been out doing chores.

  28. Just want to say your article is as astonishing.The clarity in your post is simply great and i can assume you’re an expert on this subject.Fine with your permission allow me to grab your RSS feed to keep updated with forthcoming post.Thanks a million and please carry on the enjoyable work.

  29. Emily says:

    The mother confuses me, she noted that the children going to bed and leaving the lights on and the doors unlocked was weird, so why didn’t she check on them? Especially if some of the chores they had to do were outside, wouldn’t she want to check they were definitely in bed. And the sister sleeping on the sofa too, wouldn’t she have been woken if the children were taken past her. It’s also weird that they thought to grab the baby but not the others. Why was Marian the only one who thought to grab one of her siblings.
    I’d be interested to know Where Sylvia was sleeping, if the children were kidnapped why was she left, was she maybe to close to one of her parents to risk it?
    If they were taken which seems very likely they would’ve been gone by the phone call.
    I actually go against the mafia theory though as i agree with others that their message wouldn’t be of much use if the farther had no idea who had taken his children.
    Was he liked or disliked in the town, it seems like a lot of the local emergency services tried to cover something up, as it really should’ve been investigated and the response time of the fire service was very unusual.
    It’s odd that if the sister is still trying to find out what happened and the parents looked for so long that we don’t have a more solid account from them about what exactly happened.

    • You have to remember that things were very different 70 years ago and in a family that size the older children we expected to be as responsible as the parents. If the children had outside chores to do then it makes sense that the doors may not have been locked. It would have been normal for the sister that slept on the sofa to assume the parent’s role normally associated with locking up the house and turning off lights. She may have very well fallen asleep waiting for the children to come back in. I think they were taken when they were out of the house doing chores.

      Baby Sylvia was in her parent’s room asleep so it makes sense that they would have gotten her and more likely they expected/hoped to see the other children already downstairs/outside. The father attempted to go back after the remaining children but was kept away by smoke and flames.

      I think to suggest the Mafia was in on this is a bit of a stretch. I know they had a long reach but I think it was more than likely a local connection. Apparently there were a lot of Italians in the town of Fayettville and the father had been heard making some remarks that may not have been taken kindly by other Italians. Could have been a business issue. Could have been the KKK. They don’t like anyone who isn’t white and native born. Could have been a hundred different scenarios and sadly it is unlikely unless one or more of the missing children are ever found it is unlikely the mystery will be solved.

      As far as how the children were taken, I think it makes sense that they were outside in the barn and were taken by the people that started the fire. I say people because I think it would be easier for two or more people to abduct the children especially since it was not part of the plan. It is possible too that whoever took them was known to the children and possibly offered them special treats etc since it was Christmas. The children may have been walked away and left in a vehicle with someone and then held there. Or they kidnappers may have left with the children and returned later to set the fire.

    • Mia says:

      I guess this article doesn’t say, but another one I read said that Sylvia slept in her parents room. It’s an article by the Smithsonian- a lot of the minor details of the story are different than in this article.

    • naima leila says:

      I am with you on this, no matter what could happen i always look for may parents and siblings before going out (fire earthquake or robbery even if i approach the exit i turn and call them before going out) i would never let my familly behind me, and here two parents and three grown siblings and only the girl who was in the living room went looking for the baby girl?? in the first floor?? the boys where at the top and they didn’t look for anyone during the escape, the parents went outside leting all the children behind?? especially the mother!! she was not the one saving the baby. As for the 5 children how could they be outside alone even in 1945!!! the older sister could never let them alone i don’t even think it is possible in any years or any place ever!!! and then the firepatrol making 7 hours before arriving seriously in small town?? they coul be there in 2 even if they were walking or crowling!!! all the story is weird and lot of things are fishy!! everybody were lying at soem point hey all hide something!! everybody as a result the missing 5 were never found!!!

  30. Karen L Beck says:

    How many times have we looked far and wide for someone only to find them within a mile or two from their home? Be it their body or alive. I believe they met with tragedy together and have been close to home and together all along. I also believe we can help these souls get some rest if we pray about it and ask the Holy Spirit for answers. There lies the strength in us. Having faith in God who knows all can help with answers if we all truly want to help these souls get the rest they deserve.

  31. Karen L Beck says:

    I’m entering these thoughts as they come. The little ones wouldn’t have gone out to tend to the cows and chickens either. It was very cold and dark at this time of day. Of all the nights for them to stay up late how could it have been the night all this happened? What kind of timing was this that 5 of these kids would be together and awake..the 5 youngest ones?

    • naima leila says:

      Exactly!! i am stuck with this matter it is not possible, unless they decided to go to the barn to withness the animals waking up at midnight as it is christmas eve, or looking for the santa??

      • Wisber says:

        Being Italian, they were probably Roman Catholic. Catholics commonly believe that on Christmas Eve at the midnight animals speak human language. As a child I also waited till midnight to heat it. So it is quite possible that children went to the barn in spite of cold and darkness.

  32. Hannah says:

    Wow what a story

  33. Suzie says:

    They were burned in the fire. The bones were buried in all the debris. There were even bits of bones discovered much later. Shows that the searching for bones was not carried out to the degree it should have been at the time of the fire. The frozen water, the trucks not starting were all due to the freezing weather. The fireman was lazy and didn’t want to get out of his warm bed at 1:30am so he didn’t go to the fire until time to get up at 8am. The police knew it was a far-fetched idea to say this was a kidnapping. If the mafia wanted to get even about something they would have killed the father. And why would they kidnap 5 kids – including a 14 year old that would have fought and yelled out, when the entire family was at home? That is what doesn’t make sense. This is a tragic story of a family who lost 5 children in a fire and probably due to a dried out christmas tree catching on fire from the lights (the fire started downstairs – where the tree would have been).

    • Andrew says:

      those bones discovered later were not identified as any one around the ages the children were at that time. Matter a fact they were later identified to be from a near by cemetary within the town

  34. Jeanne Hauck says:

    I think I heard that Ancestry.com’s AncestryDNA will give you a list of people you may be related to. I don’t know if that would help.

  35. Jeanne Hauck says:

    Maybe Louis is Frankie.

  36. Jeanne Hauck says:

    Maybe Ilil is a last name.

  37. Pingback: The Sodder Children – Crafton Megan

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