George and Jennie Sodder spent Christmas Eve with their children at their West Virginia home. Around 1:30 a.m. on Dec. 25, 1945, Jennie awoke to the sound of a bang on the roof of the house. She thought nothing of it and went back to sleep. A short time later she awoke to the smell of smoke. The house was on fire. Jennie woke George and they escaped with four of their children—Marion, Sylvia, George Jr., and John.
John told police he went to alert his five other siblings when the fire began. Maurice, Martha, Louis, Jennie, and Betty were supposedly sleeping in the attic of the home. John later changed his statement saying he called to his siblings but never actually saw them.
Investigators searched the home following the fire. No trace of the five children were found.