The Trail Went Cold – Episode 23 – The Sodder Children

Christmas Eve 1945. Fayetteville, West Virginia. George and Jenny Sodder are preparing to celebrate the holidays with nine of their children, but shortly after they go to bed, their home burns completely to the ground. When the smoke clears, five of the Sodder children – whose ages range from five to fourteen years old – are nowhere to be found and a search of the rubble fails to turn up any trace of their remains. Due to a number of suspicious events surrounding the fire, the Sodders begin to suspect their five missing children were the victims of a bizarre kidnapping. Did the Sodder children really die in the fire that night or did they somehow survive and remain hidden from their family for the rest of their lives? And if the children did perish in the fire, who was responsible for starting it? In this week’s special holiday-themed episode of “The Trail Went Cold”, we chronicle one of the most infamous Christmas mysteries of all time.

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The Trail Went Cold is produced and edited by Magill Foote.

All music is composed by Vince Nitro.

10 thoughts on “The Trail Went Cold – Episode 23 – The Sodder Children

  • I haven’t finished the episode yet, but I want to mention one thing about your opinion concerning the alleged kidnapping… other podcasts mentioned that the children were still up and playing with new toys that they were allowed to open before Christmas after the parents went to bed. Is it possible that the children that went missing were DOWNSTAIRS, and much easier to kidnap, as opposed to sleeping up in the attic?

    • I considered that, but the problem is that Marian was sleeping on the couch downstairs. I just don’t see how five children could have been kidnapped without waking her up and why she would be left behind.

        • I’m not sure, unfortunately. Pretty much everyone who researches the case says one of the most frustrating things is that there doesn’t seem to be any record of the exact layout of the house, so I can’t be certain if they had a back door or if it would have been feasible to sneak five kids out that way without waking anyone up.

  • I think too that the children died in the fire and that for whatever reason, the inquiry failed to give the family the proofs they needed to accept it. It’s very sad they never found any closure. I don’t see how anyone could kidnap 5 children, some of which were almost adults and keep it all secret for so long. As you said, it would take a lot of accomplices and ressources. I also believe the fire might have been criminal. Let’s say it was some kind of retaliation, for the family political opinion or something else; maybe the people responsible didn’t think that 5 children would die in the fire. It would be a good reason for coverup and the weird behaviors of some of the officials. There is one thing I am curious about and didn’t find any info about. As the father had a trucking company, maybe the fire had something to do with unions\organized crime matters? It used to be very rough back then.

    • I’ve heard the theory about George’s trucking company and organized crime as well, but never uncovered evidence to support it. This is what has led many people to believe the mafia was responsible for the fire, but I’m not sure the mob would have been operating in Fayetteville, West Virginia.

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