On Christmas Eve night, 1945, the Sodder family were awakened by a fire in their home. George and Jennie Sodder quickly escaped with four of their nine children (ten in total - one was away in the military). The other five children were never seen again.
George Sodder had immediately gone back into the house to retrieve the five remaining kids, but the upstairs where the kids’ rooms were was divided by fire and impossible to get to. He attempted to climb up to a window with his ladder, but found it missing. He instead tried driving one of his two coal trucks up to the house, intending to use its height to reach the windows. Neither truck would start, though they worked perfectly the day before. Attempts at phoning the fire dept. from neighbor’s houses received no response, and by the time a squad arrived from the neighboring town, their home had burned down.
A search of the ashes turned up no trace of their missing children. It was generally assumed the fire was hot enough to completely cremate the bodies, but the Sodders were not convinced. Their house had burned down too quickly to not leave any bones, yet no bones or any trace of their children were ever found. The family set up billboards with photos of their missing children, looking for any leads or clues as to what could have happened. Several people came forward claiming to have seen them, including a woman at a tourist stop who claimed to have seen the kids with four Italian men and women. They grew hostile when any attempt to talk to the kids was made, and mostly kept to themselves before disappearing the next day.
20 years after their disappearance, a mysterious letter with no return address was mailed to Jennie Sodder. She opened it to find a photo with “Louis Sodder. I love brother Frankie. Ilil boys. A90132 or 35” written on the back. The Sodders could not deny the resemblance to their missing son, and quickly searched for leads again. They all fell through, but the Sodders instead updated their billboard to include the photo. The Sodders eventually died without knowing what happened to their children. Only one of their kids is still alive, Sylvia, who also believes her brothers and sisters that went missing did not die in the fire.