What Happened to the Sodder Children?

On Christmas Eve 1945, Jennie and George Sodder went to bed, leaving five of their ten children awake in the house. One of the children was spending the night with a friend, leaving only nine children in the house.

Around 12:30 a.m., the house phone rang, waking Jennie. She went downstairs to answer it. On the other end of the line was a woman, asking for someone whose name Jennie had never heard before. As she looked around, Jennie saw the curtains hadn’t been drawn and the lights were still on — two chores her youngest children normally would take care of before retiring to their attic bedroom.

Jennie drew the curtains and went back to bed, only to be awoken again at 1 a.m. by a strange noise on the roof. It sounded as though something had hit the roof, then rolled down. She went back to sleep for another half an hour, but the smell of smoke woke her up again.

The house was on fire. She woke her husband and they evacuated as many children as they could. However, five of the children were still upstairs and they couldn’t get to them because the stairway was on fire.

George and Jennie Sodder did everything they could to get to the children. They tried to get help by phone. George tried to smash a window, managing to cut himself in the process. All efforts to save them failed.

The home burned for more than six hours before the fire department finally arrived. In the rubble that remained, no sign of the missing five children were found. While many people think of cremation, a house fire doesn’t burn hot enough to completely cremate a body — bones and skeletons should have remained. They were simply missing.

The site was investigated and examined many times over the years, with no sign of the children. The parents are convinced they were kidnapped that night, with the fire set to disguise the crime. Up until their deaths in 1969 and 1989, George and Jennie believed their children were still alive. They maintained this billboard in the hopes it would lead to answers.

What do you think happened to the Sodder children?