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December 12th, 2005

The 1945 Sodder Fire

I went to West Virginia last week to research a piece I’m doing for NPR about a fire in Fayetteville, WV on December 25, 1945. Five children were believed to have died in the fire, but there was enough weirdness that night and for years afterwards that the family never accepted it. They believed the children were either kidnapped or murdered that night.

This is the billboard the family put up starting in 1952.


The children who died or went missing that night.

Maurice Sodder, 14 years old on December 25, 1945.

Maurice Sodder.jpg

Martha Lee Sodder, 12 years old on December 25, 1945.

Martha Lee Sodder.jpg

Louis Sodder, 9 years old on December 25, 1945 (his birthday was in 5 days).

Louis Sodder.jpg

Jennie Sodder, 8 years old on December 25, 1945.

Jennie Sodder.jpg

Betty Sodder, 5 years old on December 25, 1945.

Betty Sodder.jpg

The site today. The billboard sat at the top of the rise, by the pine trees. The house that burned was on the left side of the driveway you see today.


This is Fayetteville today.


The Fayetteville Courthouse.

SmallerCourthouse copy.jpg

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