Join the Unexplained Mysteries community today! It's free and setting up an account only takes a moment.
- Sign In or Create Account -
Sign in to follow this  
Followers 2
gaia227

Mary Shotwell Little and The Sodder Children

10 posts in this topic

I have been interested in cold cases for a long time and research them. The two cases that have always stuck out to me are the disappearence of Mary Shotwell Little and The Sodder Children. They are not related in any way.

Mary's case is intriguing because of all the clues that were left behind and because a few years later a woman, Diane, who worked where Mary did and took over Mary's job after she disappeared was found dead, stuffed into the trunk of her car. She, like Mary had recieved flowers from an anonymous person days before her death. And, like Mary, both of their case files complete with evidence housed at police HQ disappeared too. Diane had stated to people she was working undercover for the police to help with Mary's case. This was denied by the PD.

The police never agreed on if the two incidents were related. The lead investigator seemed to think they were.

Later, some of Mary's roommates received threatening phone calls. One woman's husband received one where a man stated 'your wife is next.'

Mary disappeared on Oct 14th, 1965 from Lenox Square district in Atlanta. Friends revealed in the days leading up to her disappearence she had been receiving phone calls at work that seemed to trouble her but she never mentioned them to anyone. She told friends a couple days before she went missing she had something important to tell them - she never got the chance. She received flowers from an anonymous person days before she disappeared. She also had indicated to friends she was scared to be alone and she was especially scared to be alone in her car but she never said why.

After eating dinner with friends that evening she turned and waved good-bye not knowing it would be the last time she said good-bye to her friends.....or did she? She did not show for work the next day and worried co-workers began looking for her. Police said her car was not in the parking lot where she was last seen but when her boss when to look it was there. The police later determined the car had been returned to the area most likely and most brazenly in broad daylight. It was covered with dirt indicated it had been on a dirt road. There was blood smeared on the seats and the steering wheel - the police theorized there actually wasn't that much blood but it looked to have been smeared around to make it look like there was more than there was.

In the front seat, folded neatly, were Mary's clothes. A bra, girdle, underwear - all with blood spatters. A piece of stocking on the floor cut off with presumably a knife. A few days later police learned her credit card had been used in Charleston - coincidently Mary's hometown. It was used again twelve hours later in Raleigh - Raleigh was only three hours away from Charleston. When police interviewed the two seperate gas station attendants they both reported seeing a woman who had a cut on her forehead, blood on her clothes and her legs with one or maybe two men who seemed to be 'controlling' her. Handwriting experts verified the signatures were hers.

That was the last Mary was ever heard from. Presumably she was murdered. By who? And why? Was Diane's murder related or just a grisely coincidence?

I typed this all from memory. I am sure I am leaving out plenty of things. Please refer to the links below to read about the case. Very interesting read.

http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1102670/posts

http://www.buckhead.net/history/mystery/msl_a.html

The Sodder Children - many people believe the Sodder children did not die in the fire that night and that the fire was set as a distraction. There seems to have been a cover up by the fire department.

Links

http://www.myspace.com/sodderchildren

http://www.charleyproject.org/cases/s/sodder_maurice.html

http://www.sodderchildren.com/

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5067563

I copied this from the MySpace page

Christmas Eve in 1945, the Sodders and nine of their ten children settled in for the evening. Maurice, and four of his siblings - Betty, Jennie, Louis and Martha Lee pleaded to be allowed to stay up and play with their new toys. Mrs. Sodder relented after the children promised to take care of their chores before coming to bed. Shortly after midnight Mrs. Sodder was awakened by the phone ringing. A female caller asked for a man whose name Mrs. Sodder didn't recognize. The caller gave a weird laugh before hanging up. Dismissing the call as a prank, Mrs. Sodder went to return back to bed but noticed the lights were still on, the shades weren’t drawn and the doors hadn’t been locked. Believing the children forgot to do these things before going to bed, she went back to sleep. She was awakened again by a noise on the roof that sounded "like a rubber ball." About a half-hour later, smoke began pouring into the bedroom. She yelled for her husband and children. Once outside, Mr. Sodder noticed that Betty, Jennie, Louis, Martha Lee, and Maurice were nowhere to be found. He went to grab the ladder, which was kept near the house, to reach the windows of the room where the children slept. The ladder was missing. Less than forty-five minutes after the fire started, the house was consumed. Firefighters and state police arrived later that morning and placed the cause of the fire on faulty wiring. State police later withdrew their statement. The fire chief and state fire marshal sifted through the ashes and told the Sodders that they couldn’t find any remains. Another report states that the firefighters found a few bones and pieces of internal organs in the ashes, but the family was never told of these findings. Some time after the fire, the fire chief informed the Sodders that he had recovered a body part, probably an organ, from the ashes and buried it in a box on the site. The box was dug up and its contents taken to the funeral home for examination, while a small piece was sent elsewhere for examination. The piece sent off elsewhere was deemed to be beef liver. When the detective went back to the funeral home to find the results of their analysis on the contents he left in their care he was told that they couldn’t be located The acting coroner impaneled a jury of six local citizens who returned a verdict that the five children had died due to suffocation and flames. Within a few months, the Sodders became convinced that their children did not die in the fire. Information began to surface to support their beliefs. An investigation revealed that the telephone line had been cut shortly before or during the fire. A late-night bus driver reported seeing "balls of fire" being tossed upon the roof of the Sodder home. An operator of a motel located halfway between Fayetteville and Charleston reported seeing the children Christmas morning. A Charleston hotel owner reported seeing four of the children in the company of four Italian speaking adults a week later. Three months after the fire, the youngest child found a hard rubber object that was hollow with a twist-off cap. It was identified by Army authorities as an incendiary or napalm bomb called a "pine-apple." It was later discovered that the fire had started on the roof. During the fire, a man was seen stealing a block and chain from the Sodder's garage. He admitted to cutting the "electric line" to the Sodder home. The ladder, which couldn't be found during the fire, was found down an embankment away from the house. A couple of years after the tragedy, Mr. Sodder saw a photo of school children in New York and was certain that Betty was one of the children in the photograph. He drove to Manhattan to see for himself but was never allowed to see the child. Sightings of the children came in from all over the country. Every lead proved fruitless. In 1952, the Sodders purchased a billboard displaying photos of their missing children and offering a reward for the recovery of any or all of the children. The publicity fed rumors that the children had been sold to an orphanage or taken to Italy. The Sodders tried in vain to get their case re-opened, even writing to the FBI. State police and local authorities wouldn’t reactivate the investigation without any evidence of a kidnapping or murder. The investigating fire marshal admitted years later that he did not search through the ashes as thoroughly as he would have liked. Mr. Sodder, initially believing his children had died, bulldozed the site and covered it with four to five feet of dirt, planting flowers in memory of the children. In 1949, Mr. Sodder decided to excavate the site in order to search for human remains. The assistant chief of Naval Ordinance in Charleston and a noted pathologist from Washington, D.C. were among those helping. Four pieces of vertebrae and two small bones that could have come from a child’s hand were located. The pathologist noted that he was amazed at the scarcity of bones recovered after the thorough search, claiming it was unusual that no skulls or pelvic bones were found in a fire that was quick burning and not so intense as to destroy cloth, flooring and other debris found. Back in Washington, D.C., the pathologist determined the bones to be human, having come from a person 14 to 15 years of age. Due to the location where the bones were found within the floor plan of the house, Mr. Sodder didn’t believe the remains to be of his 14-year-old son, Maurice. Another analysis of the bones conducted years later by the Smithsonian Institute determined that the bones came from someone 16 to 22 years of age. It was also noted that the bones bore no evidence of having been subjected to fire. A letter would arrive on a detective’s desk claiming that the bones had been removed from a nearby cemetery and planted at the scene. Many believe the children died that night in the fire and the family was never able to accept the loss. Others believe the children were taken and are still alive somewhere, believing the fire killed their parents and siblings. Mr. Sodder died in 1969, his wife twenty years later. The billboard no longer stands. The youngest of the Sodder children keeps her parents’ quest alive to find out what really happened that night.

In 1968, over 20 years adter the tragedy, the Sodders received yet another mysterious reminder. An envelope arrived addressed to Mrs. Sodder with no return address. Inside she found only a photograph of a young man, 24-28 years old, wearing white pants and a shirt, and sitting in front of a window. On the back of the photograph were these words: "Louis Sodder" "I love brother Frankie." "ilil Boys" "A90132 or 35" Mrs. Sodder was convinced that the photograph was of her son Louis Sodder, who was supposed to have died in the fire at the age of nine. The Sodders took the photograph to Charleston in an effort to convince Attorney General Donald Robertson to reopen the case. But the Attorney General was not convinced of the identity of the young man. Determined to follow this lead just as they had so many others, the Sodders again employed a private detective. They paid him in advance and sent him to the town which was listed on the postmark of the letter. They never heard from him again. Mrs. Sodder was afraid that if the letter or the name of the town was published it could bring harm to her son. She had no choice but to admit defeat. The photograph was enlarged and placed in a frame in front of her fireplace. She took comfort in the belief that although her children were out of her reach, they were still alive.

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have read the Sodder children case before and it is truly a very sad and mysterious case.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My brother's ten. There's no way a stranger could abduct him and put him in a life somewhere else and expect him to stay put and not talk or even run away. I wasn't stupid at that age either; it just wouldn't be possible. And even with the younger kids, why waste the time and energy and resources it would take? What about papers and all that?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

http://www.visionandpsychosis.net/Mary_Sho...ane_Shields.htm

This is an interesting guess at what happened to Mary Shotwell Little and Diane Shields, but no way to prove it, and I am not sure if I believe it myself. However, it is something to think about. It just seems to me that if this is true, then we should have case studies of people who were diagnosed and documented, not just missing people, or ones whose remains are found later.

NS

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

never heard this case before...fascinating read.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yup never heard of it aswell - The Beaumont Children Australia is a similar-ish case

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That link about adapting to subliminal movement is absolutely fascinating; maybe I WILL switch to a psych major and make that my thesis. =P I'm not sure if that's what would cause her disappearance and the guy goes into the technical details too much without a clear statement, but I think the idea is extremely valid. Looks like I stopped playing Evercrack just in time, lol.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

<a href="http://www.visionandpsychosis.net/Mary_Shotwell_Little_Diane_Shields.htm" target="_blank">http://www.visionandpsychosis.net/Mary_Sho...ane_Shields.htm</a>

This is an interesting guess at what happened to Mary Shotwell Little and Diane Shields, but no way to prove it, and I am not sure if I believe it myself. However, it is something to think about. It just seems to me that if this is true, then we should have case studies of people who were diagnosed and documented, not just missing people, or ones whose remains are found later.

NS

It is actually a bit more than a guess. The current cold case investigator thought it was the reason she disappeared. He remembered that the Atlanta Police Department had trouble with Subliminal Distraction and had to change all their desks to cubicles. He was one of the rare people aware of this phenomenon. The cubicle was created to deal with the vision startle reflex and subliminal sight in crowded office situations by 1968. (This is explained in first semester college psychology under the physiology of sight.)

There is a way to investigate it if there are old records of the office space and Little's desk at C&S Bank. The bank is long gone though. There are people still alive that worked there. I have found posts on forums but none has responded.

These disappearances are still happening. Remember Brian Shaffer, Maura Murray, Michael Negrete, Josh Guimond or Justin Gains? They are college students who walked away under similar circumstances. There have been others who disappeared, then recovered, or were found in altered mental states. Ahmad Arain, UCLA, left a bus in Watts, walked to Mexico, then recovered enough in six weeks to email home. Matthew Wilson drove away from Rice and was arrested eight months later in Berkeley California. Both Arain and Wilson were computer science majors.

There were three Canadian engineering students missing but one was found wandering in Texas a few weeks ago.

The problem is so simple that you can created the "special circumstances" almost anywhere. Because of the way the vision startle reflex is subliminally triggered exposure is silent, painless, and undetectable. You will begin to have psychiatric symptoms, fear, paranoia, panic attacks, depression, and thoughts of suicide, or a sudden mental breakdown.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

My brother's ten. There's no way a stranger could abduct him and put him in a life somewhere else and expect him to stay put and not talk or even run away. I wasn't stupid at that age either; it just wouldn't be possible. And even with the younger kids, why waste the time and energy and resources it would take? What about papers and all that?

Stockholm syndrom and/or fear could keep many kids from trying to escape. A good believable lie could too. I know my brothers can convince my 10 year old son of just about anything in less than 5 minutes.

Back when these kids were taken it wasnt all that hard to forge paperwork, really its still not.

If you go with the theory that the people who took the kids were Italian, it wouldnt be that hard to convince some one that the childrens papers were lost in Italy and to get new id issued in America, especially if they said they had fled Italy during WW2 with nothing but the clothes on their backs. No one would think it odd in the least that a family of refugees from WW2 didnt have proper paper for themselves.

Edited by MirrorImage
1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It is actually a bit more than a guess. The current cold case investigator thought it was the reason she disappeared. He remembered that the Atlanta Police Department had trouble with Subliminal Distraction and had to change all their desks to cubicles. He was one of the rare people aware of this phenomenon. The cubicle was created to deal with the vision startle reflex and subliminal sight in crowded office situations by 1968. (This is explained in first semester college psychology under the physiology of sight.)

There is a way to investigate it if there are old records of the office space and Little's desk at C&S Bank. The bank is long gone though. There are people still alive that worked there. I have found posts on forums but none has responded.

These disappearances are still happening. Remember Brian Shaffer, Maura Murray, Michael Negrete, Josh Guimond or Justin Gains? They are college students who walked away under similar circumstances. There have been others who disappeared, then recovered, or were found in altered mental states. Ahmad Arain, UCLA, left a bus in Watts, walked to Mexico, then recovered enough in six weeks to email home. Matthew Wilson drove away from Rice and was arrested eight months later in Berkeley California. Both Arain and Wilson were computer science majors.

There were three Canadian engineering students missing but one was found wandering in Texas a few weeks ago.

The problem is so simple that you can created the "special circumstances" almost anywhere. Because of the way the vision startle reflex is subliminally triggered exposure is silent, painless, and undetectable. You will begin to have psychiatric symptoms, fear, paranoia, panic attacks, depression, and thoughts of suicide, or a sudden mental breakdown.

Great stuff ! .. I just googled Subliminal Distraction and will research it more . Do you think it could be one of the factors in rage ~ road rage, plane rage etc ~ ?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  
Followers 2

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.