Aged 6 to 14 years, Betty, Jennie, Louis, Martha and Maurice Sodder disappeared on 24 December 1945 following a fire at their home. Closer returns to this mysterious case…
Around 1am25 in the morning, the Sodder residence was invaded by flames. George, Jennie and four of their children, Marion, Sylvia, John and George Jr, quickly evacuate the scene. The father of the family and his sons try to access the attic, without success, while neighbors try to join the firefighters, there too, in vain. There follows a nightmare of 45 long minutes, during which the family home disappears under the power of fire. Devastated, the surviving Sodders include Betty, 6, Jennie, 8, Louis, years, Martha, 10 years and Maurice Sodder, 14 years, have just perished in the flames.
“Your damn house will go up in smoke”
Then opens the greatest mysteries of American history. On the morning of 25 December, the firefighters were surprised to find neither the bones nor the remains of the five missing Sodder children . However, Chief FJ Morris is categorical: the fire was not powerful enough to completely incinerate the bodies. A question then arises: were the Sodder children in the house or not when the fire broke out? On 25 December 1945, Betty, Jennie, Louis, Martha and Maurice Sodder are officially declared dead. Their surviving brothers and sisters attend their funeral but their parents, upset, refuse. For them, the last five children did not die in the flames. Keeping hope alive, George Sodder covers the ashes of the house with earth and builds a “garden in memory of lost children”. The photos of the children are plastered there, and will remain so for several decades…
If George and Jennie Sodder never wanted to believe in the death of their children on the evening of 24 December 1945, is that several elements led them to believe the opposite. Several months before the fire, a transporter had come to the family home and pointed to the fuse boxes, saying “It’s going to set the fire, one day“. Shortly after, another man had tried to sell insurance to the father of the family and had become angry when the latter had declined: “Your damn house is going to go up in smoke“, he would have said then. The man is also said to have threatened the Sodder children, virulently criticizing the political orientation of the father, who at the time openly condemned Mussolini’s policy in Italy. “Your children will be destroyed. You will pay for your inappropriate remarks on Mussolini”
, would have launched the insurer. Moreover, shortly before the fire, the Sodder sons would have noticed a man parked on the US Highway 21 who watched them from afar as they came home from school…
Did Louis Sodder and his siblings survive?
Still open, the investigation into the disappearance of the Sodder children has also given parents plenty of reason to doubt. As early as 1946, testimony called into question the theory that the fire was due to an electrical fault. The driver of a bus claims to have seen strangers throwing “fireballs” at the house on the evening of 25 december. In 1946, moreover, a new twist calls into question the death of the Sodder children. In her mailbox, Jennie Sodder finds the photo of a man in his twenties. On the back, the words: “Louis Sodder. I love brother Frankie, Ilil boys, A90132 gold 35.”
Did Louis and his brothers therefore survive the fire at 24 december 1945 ? Seventy-seven years later, the mystery remains intact.
George and Jennie Sodder died in 1969 and 1989 respectively. All their lives, they and their children refused to believe in the death of Betty, Jennie, Louis, Martha and Maurice, imagining in particular that they would have been kidnapped by the Italian mafia in retaliation for the statements of George father on his native country.
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