Breaking news: The mystery of the 1945 fire: The mysterious disappearance of 5 children on Highway 16, West Virginia, USA. Even the investigators were confused

Breaking news: The mystery of the 1945 fire: The mysterious disappearance of 5 children on Highway 16, West Virginia, USA. Even the investigators were confused

At 0:30 a.m. on December 25, 1945, the nine children of George and Jennie went to bed one after another after opening the Christmas gifts their parents gave them. At 0:36, the phone rang loudly. Picking up the phone, Jennie heard a woman’s voice: “Is this Connie’s house?”. Ms. Jennie replied: “You called the wrong number” and hung up. When she returned to bed, Jennie saw that the lights on the ground floor were still on, and the sun-blocking curtains had not been closed. Stepping down, before her eyes, the main door was still wide open.

The mysterious disappearance of 5 children on Christmas Eve -0
George and Mrs. George’s 9 children and 5 people are believed to have died in the fire

Thinking it was because her children were having fun and being absent-minded, after turning off the lights, drawing the curtains and locking the door, Mrs. Jennie went back to her room but just as she fell asleep, she heard something fall very hard on the roof but then everything was quiet again. It was quiet as usual so she didn’t pay attention.

Before that, at 9 am, a strange man came to George to ask if George agreed to transport goods for him? When he saw two separate electrical fuse boxes in the living room, he said, “This will cause a fire one day,” although according to George, the two fuse boxes were installed by electricians. local. And yet, a life insurance company employee persuaded George and his wife to buy insurance for their 9 children and when George refused, he said: “Your damn house is smoking. Your children will not receive a penny.” One of George’s oldest sons, John, 23 years old, added that the day before Christmas, a stranger stopped on Highway 21 and observed John’s younger siblings as they returned home from school.

At 1:30 a.m. on December 25, Ms. Jennie felt short of breath. Opening her eyes, she saw the bedroom filled with smoke, and on the ground floor, a bright fire burned. Panicked, Jennie called her husband, then picked up her 2-year-old daughter, Sylvia, and ran up to the second floor. At this time, George and his wife’s three children, including 23-year-old John, 17-year-old Marion, and George Jr. The 15-year-old was still awake, so he climbed out of the window from the second floor, then clung to the pillar and fell to the ground. As for the remaining 5 children, including Maurice, 21 years old, Louis, 19 years old, Martha, 12 years old, Jennie Jr., 8 years old and Betty, 5 years old, they sleep in 2 rooms located at the beginning of the hallway, right above the living room, separated from each other. with the bedrooms of John, Marion and George Jr. by a staircase, but both rooms had already begun to catch fire.

Leading his wife back down to the first floor, George took a blanket and wrapped it around his wife and daughter’s bodies after being soaked in water, then opened the window at the back of the floor that had not yet been caught by the fire, and jumped down onto the porch. Next, when Jennie fell through the porch, George helped his wife to the ground and then frantically rushed to a pine tree, where he often set up a wooden ladder. According to George’s thinking at that time, he would put the ladder on his truck, drive close to the second floor window and then use the ladder to climb into the room to save the remaining 5 children. However, when they reached the base of the pine tree, the ladder was no longer there.

As for Mr. and Mrs. George’s three children who had escaped to the ground, Marion rushed to the neighbor’s house to ask them to call the Fayetteville Fire Department but no one answered. A few customers were drinking to celebrate Christmas at a pub 2km away. When they discovered the fire, they called the police but got no response. Annoyed, the neighbor drove to the town of Fayetteville and met with Sheriff Morris. According to the neighbor: “Morris phoned a firefighter, then that firefighter phoned another firefighter, then another while the fire department headquarters was just a block away from the crowd.” 5km fire”.

The mysterious disappearance of 5 children on Christmas Eve -0
What’s left of George’s house after the fire and a photo of a person “like Louis” sent to George’s grandparents

At 8 a.m., the police and firefighters showed up, but George and Jennie’s house was left with only piles of ashes. The strange thing is that the subsequent search did not find any trace of the bones of the five children. According to Chief Morris, the heat of the fire burned everything, and the cause of the fire was an electrical short circuit.

Three days later, the Fayetteville County Mayor’s office issued George and his wife a death certificate, confirming “Maurice, 21 years old, Louis, 19 years old, Martha, 12 years old, Jennie Jr., 8 years old, and 5 year old Betty died.” due to fire because he couldn’t escape in time.”

The next mystery

After the fire, George and Jennie were always tormented by the question of how the five children died in the fire, but there was nothing to prove, especially Maurice was still wearing a metal Timex watch that night. , while many household items such as pots, pans, knives, forks, spoons…, are still identifiable. When I heard an employee at the crematorium say that if the body was burned at 2,000 degrees Celsius continuously for 2 hours, some large bones such as the femur and pelvis would still remain, but George and Jennie’s house burned down only about 45 minutes so they quietly did an experiment. By buying cow bones and a Timex watch, they piled up a pile of firewood, put bones and watches in, then poured gasoline and burned continuously for 4 hours. When the fire went out, they saw that although it was burned black, they could still recognize the shape of the bones, and the watch’s metal casing was only melted in a few places such as the glass, the leather strap holder, and the hour hand adjustment pin. , minute…

The mystery of the five children who died in the fire increased when a telephone repairman told George that the lines of his house and the neighboring houses seemed to have been short-circuited when the fire broke out, so they did not call for help. can fire. Another person who went out late for Christmas confirmed that before the fire broke out, he saw a figure standing next to George’s truck, but at that time, he thought it was him. Inspecting the truck, George saw that one of the wires connected to the starter was exposed, but he could not conclude whether it was intentional or just a coincidence. The mystery increased when cleaning, Ms. Jennie discovered a cylindrical cast iron object lying in a pile of coal ash. Some of Mr. George’s friends who were soldiers in World War II said it was the casing of an incendiary bomb, which reminded Jennie of something falling very hard on the roof before the fire broke out.

The mysterious disappearance of 5 children on Christmas Eve -0
Mr. and Mrs. George in front of a sign looking for their five children placed on Highway 16

And while George and Jennie were increasingly confused, a woman about 6km away said that when the fire was rising, she saw a car driving past her with several children on it. Another woman operating a rest stop between Fayetteville and Charleston, about 90km west of the fire, said she saw five children the morning after the fire. She told the police: “I served breakfast to the children. They were traveling in a 16-seat Volkswagen car with Florida license plates with 2 Italian men and 2 women. Furthermore, a female receptionist at the Charleston hotel added: “A week after the fire, I saw 5 children with 2 Italian couples. They arrived at the hotel at midnight and rented only one large room. Before that, I saw pictures of 5 children in the newspaper, but when I talked to them, 2 men looked uncomfortable. One of these two people yelled at the children in Italian so they remained silent. They checked out and left early the next morning…”. According to Police Chief Morris, the testimony of the above people seems to be well-founded because George and his wife are both Italian immigrants and at home, they still teach their children Italian. However, the police could not find specific evidence to conclude that the witnesses’ statements were true.

Two years after the fire and still without any specific answers, George and his wife sent a letter to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), raising questions about the mysterious disappearance of their five children. Mr. George then received a reply from FBI Director Edgar Hoover: “Although I really want to serve you, the case is under the jurisdiction of the local police and up to this point, they still have not offered to serve you.” The FBI got involved…”.

In August 1949, there was new evidence: By chance, George saw some photos in a magazine of a group of young ballet dancers in New York City. Observing closely, he and his wife both assumed that one of the dancers was his daughter Betty. He drove to Manhattan, New York and after asking the magazine’s editorial board, he went to the residence of the girl in the picture but her parents refused to let George have contact with their child. That same year, George and his wife offered a reward of $5,000 and later increased to $10,000 for anyone who provided information about the existence of their five children.

In March 1967, more than 20 years after the fire, Jennie received a letter from Kentucky but did not include the sender’s full name or address. In the letter was a photo of a man, on the back was a cryptic handwriting: “Louis Sodder. I love my brother Frankie (John’s common name at home).” Both George and Jennie saw the similarity between the person in the photo and Louis, their son at 19 years old. This time, he and his wife hired a private detective to secretly investigate but did not bring any results, and never heard anything about the person “like Louis” in the photo.

George died at the end of 1968. Two months before his death, he told a newspaper: “Time is running out for us, so if my children are dead, please give me convincing evidence. If they are still alive, we want to know what happened.”

Ms. Jennie died in 1989 and then in 1998, 2004, 2005, her three children including John, Marion and George Jr. died. also passed away. The last person in the family is the youngest girl, Sylvia, 76 years old, who lives with her daughter, Jennie Henthorn, in the city of St Albans. To help her mother gain more comfort, Jennie Henthorn created an account on the website “websleuths.com”, which specializes in posting information about finding missing people, because: “My mother promised my grandparents that she would Never let this sink in.”

Before that, in 2006 – 1 year after George Jr. passed away – Mrs. Sylvia had the sign on Highway 16 removed and still did not believe that her five siblings died in the fire. When her health allows, she visits the website sleuths.com to meet people interested in the mysterious disappearance of her siblings. She said: “Until I die, I still keep hoping even though that hope is now like a candle, burning the last drops of wax.”

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