Catastrophic Crime: The most wonderful time of the year


People disguise themselves as Santa to hide their malicious intentions behind their crimes around the holiday season. Santa is known as a cheery, happy man who would never do harm.

Avery Sannipoli, Staff Reporter

Whether you celebrate Christmas or not, the holidays are always a fun time! However, contrary to popular belief, the holidays can be a time where crime rates rise. On December 24, 1945, a fire broke out at the home of the Sodder family living in Fayetteville, West Virginia. The parents, George and Jennie, and their nine kids all went to bed, and one being away in the army. However, at one in the morning, the family woke up to a fire. The parents escaped as well as four of their children, but the other five were lost in the fire. The father scoured the house looking for the remaining five children: Maurice, Martha, Louis, Jennie, and Betty. When he was unable to do so, he rushed to the side of the house where a ladder should have been, but it was not. By the time the police department arrived, the house was already essentially a pile of ash. The family believed the remaining kids passed in that house, but none of their remains were found there afterwards. 

  The night of the fire, the wife had noticed some unusual circumstances in the house right before bed. The front door was unlocked, and the lights were on downstairs. She turned them off and returned to bed, but woke up soon after to a loud bang and a noise that sounded like something was rolling across the floor. The last time she woke up was from the fire. The Sodder family believes their children may still be out there as there are many “witnesses” who claimed to have seen them the morning after the fire, and for much time after. The Sodder family stopped at nothing to find out if their children were still alive, but passed before they were able to do so. The youngest child who is still alive, Sylvia, is now seventy six years old, and is still trying to figure out if her siblings died in that fire. Sophomore Ava Penny said, “I think the four children escaped the fire somehow and are still alive.”

  Adding on to those crimes, Santa Claus brought more than just presents on Christmas Eve 2004. In the city of Covina, California, at around 11:30pm, a family received a knock at the door, and it was Santa, or Bruce Jeffery Pardo, coming early. His motive was based on the fact that his ex-wife  was at that party. After he opened fire and killed everyone at the party, he set the house on fire too. His intentions were to head out to his brother’s house in Canada, but the fire got to him as well. The fire caused his suit to melt into him, causing third degree burns. Rather than being caught and put to justice, he shot himself soon after. 

  Not every Christmas crime is as terrible. In 2011, an eleven year old child noticed a forty-four year old intruder in his home. He was said to be high on bath salts when he broke in, but never intended any harm. The intruder, Terry Trent, hung up a wreath on the garage, lit some candles, and sat back to watch some TV. When the son notified his mom, they asked Trent to leave, and he did so in a polite manner. One would think crime would be at an all time low during the holidays because it is a time to be “holly jolly”, but these criminals did not see it that way. As we get closer to Christmas, look out for any suspicious activity by Santa and his reindeer.