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Old Fayette County mystery draws new attention

Photo submitted to The Register-Herald
Photo submitted to The Register-Herald

BECKLEY, W.Va. — Fayette County’s most persistent mystery has long been a thread in the fabric of local lore, rumors and stories.

A billboard seeking information about George and Jennie Sodder five missing children stood along W.Va. 16 for nearly four decades, and generations of children stared at their portraits and wondered.

That story is now a national mystery, published again in the February 2016 edition of Reader’s Digest under the title “The Children Who Vanished.”

“The case of the Sodder children has become an enduring drama that transcends its time period,” said Reader’s Digest editor Barbara O’Dair. The story, originally published in the Smithsonian, is especially intriguing because it remains a head-scratcher, perfect for the amateur sleuths among us.”

On Christmas Eve 1945, the Sodder’s home, just 4 miles outside Fayetteville, caught fire and burned to the ground. The parents rescued four of their 10 children; their second oldest was serving in the military, but the five other children seemed to vanish in a cloud of smoke…

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