1945, the year World War II ended, something very odd happened in Fayetteville, West Virginia. It was the night before Christmas, and a fire broke out in the home of George and Jennie Sodder.
This respectable middle-class family had their nine children in the house with them. Only four children emerged.
As the flames licked up the walls, the structure burned hot and fast. There was no official fire alarm in that small town, only a a 'phone tree' system - whereby each firefighter called the next one and so on - so help only arrived by morning, by which time the Sodder house was a mound of smoldering ash...
But what really happened that night?
How can five children just vanish? The Sodders never accepted the explanation that their five children had perished in the fire, burned without a trace. And some very odd things had happened...
- An unknown man had been spotted, watching children at the local school from his parked car.
- Another stranger had approached the house a couple of months prior to the blaze. He pointed at the fuse boxes and said:
This is going to cause a fire someday
- Similarly, insurance salesman, angry at being refused business, barked at Mr Sodder:
Your goddamn house is going up in smoke and your children are going to be destroyed.
A high-temperature crematorium burns 100lb of human matter in an hour. A house fire would not be quite as hot, but the Sodder house burned for hours, certainly long enough to reduce human bodies to little more than bone fragments, and forensic techniques were not terribly advanced in the 40's. However, there's one thing searchers could have expected to find: Teeth.
Teeth survive even very high temperatures, but none were reported found at the site. The coroner issued five death certificates, and the matter - to the authorities at least - was considered closed.
The Sodder family never gave up hoping the five missing children were still alive. What do you think?