History Channel — Sodder Children Disappearance -premiers April 18, 2022
A few months ago, I was asked to lend my experience as a private investigator and former homicide investigator to a review of this mysterious decades-old case. I was unfamiliar with the Sodder Children Disappearance case, but I became fully entrenched. To recap, a residential fire in a rural West Virginia area on Christmas Eve 1945 resulted in the loss of five of the Sodder Family’s children.
While recreating a scene from 76 plus years ago is impossible, what stood out to me in my work as a genealogist was what was the rest of the family story. Did the relatives of this family ever take a DNA test? If the children survived and their offspring tested, we may find some answers. Some speculated that the children were kidnapped, and others were sure they died in the fire, although no human remains were located!
A fire and a life insurance policy covering the house and the children were obtained months before the tragedy. The benefactor was the man, Mr. Sodder had longstanding conflicts. That man then became the person who received the money and was the person in charge of the coroner’s inquest and signed the children’s death certificates within a year of the incident. You might want to read that again. How do you assume they’ve perished in the fire when not one piece of evidence to that fact was recovered. All while leads and rumors of sightings of the children came in from all over the country. Talk about a conflict.
A few things I discovered that I hadn’t seen earlier reported while researching previously documented investigations was that Mr. and Mrs. George Sodder had another child a couple of years after the mysterious fire. Sadly the son they named Michael died right around Christmas from complications. Can you imagine the impending joy of a new baby, especially around Christmas and another year marking the tragedy and a new life to be born but then their happiness ended so quickly? Mr. and Mrs. Sodder went to their deaths, still seeking answers and the location of their five missing children, an imaginable task for any couple or person to endure.
I hope you watch the documentary and provide your thoughts and ideas. There’s so much more to this story that leads up to the fire, including but not limited to political differences, failure to respond quickly to a fire, business competition, and threats to the family. Unfortunately, the remaining Sodder child, the youngest at the fire, recently passed away, never knowing what happened to her siblings. You can quickly see why this is still one of history’s greatest mysteries.