Society

Mystery Of Children Missing Since 1945 Remains Unsolved

| by Jordan Smith
Sodder BillboardSodder Billboard

On Christmas Eve in 1945, the Sodder family home caught fire and was burnt to the ground.

Parents Jennie and George Sodder escaped with four of their 10 children, according to Throwback News.

One of their children was on military service at the time, leaving five who apparently failed to make it out of the house alive.

George reportedly attempted to climb his ladder to the second floor window, but it was missing. He then tried to move his truck beneath the window so he could reach up, but it would not start.

These events, coupled with a report that Jennie took a strange prank call earlier on Christmas Eve, encouraged suspicions that foul play may have been involved.

Repeated attempts to find the remains of the children failed, which helped fuel rumors that the five kids got out of the house alive.

In 1968, the Sodders received a picture of a man looked similar to Louis, one of their missing sons. They sent a private detective to Kentucky, where the photo allegedly came from, but he was never heard from again.

Readers Digest featured the unsolved mystery earlier this year.

“The case of the Sodder children has become an enduring drama that transcends its time period,” Barbara O’Dair, editor of Readers Digest, told the Beckley Register Herald.

Even seven decades after the mysterious disappearance, community residents still question what happened.

“We were really upset,” Lita Eskew, who was in high school when the fire occurred, said. "We could not understand how they did not find any remains at all. They roped off the home, but we just went down and looked. Everybody drove by because it was such a tragedy."

“I still think about those children and wonder,” she added.

Eskew’s daughter recalled the billboard that stood at the side of the road for more than four decades requesting anyone with information to get in touch.

“You could feel something in the pit of your stomach and wonder, ‘are they still living? Where are they?’,” said Denise Scalph, describing the feeling when driving past the billboard. “For years and years the community expected them to show up somewhere. The entire thing was truly a mystery. You have to wonder if today’s world of forensics would have been able to unearth more.”

Sources: Beckley Register Herald, Throwback News / Photo credit: Appalachian History via Smithsonian

Will the mystery ever be solved?
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