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Did Google Earth Photos Help Locate The Body Of A Man Who Went Missing In 1997?

The car of William Moldt, who disappeared more than 20 years ago, was allegedly visible on Google Earth for years before it was recovered.

By Sharon Lynn Pruitt
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The remains of a Florida man who went missing without a trace 22 years ago were recovered after his car, which had been submerged in a pond since 1997 and was reportedly visible in Google Earth photos, was found by a local man.

William Moldt, a 40-year-old resident of Lantana, Florida, was reported missing on Nov. 8, 1997, after he did not return home after a night out at a club, Newsweek reports. The decades-old mystery found its conclusion last month, however, after a resident called police on Aug. 28 to report that he’d discovered a car fully submerged in the retention pond behind his house, according to the Palm Beach Post.

The Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office confirmed Wednesday that the skeletal remains found inside the car, which itself showed evidence of having been in the water for quite some time, belonged to Moldt, the outlet reports.

Moldt's missing person case went cold decades ago, but his disappearance is now listed as “resolved” on The Charley Project, a website housing information on various missing person’s cases. Moldt’s page states that a “property surveyor” saw Moldt’s car while perusing Google Earth.

William Moldt Pd

“Amazingly, a vehicle had been plainly visible on a Google Earth satellite photo of the area since 2007, but apparently no one had noticed it until 2019, when a property surveyor saw the car while looking at Google Earth,” reads the report.

The National Missing and Unidentified Persons System reports that Moldt had left a local night club on November 7, 1997 alone in his car at around 11 p.m. and, although he’d had several drinks before leaving, did not appear to be drunk when he left, Newsweek reports.

The Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office suspects that Moldt may have lost control of the car somehow, but they suggested that the exact cause of the crash is unknown, and will likely remain that way, the BBC reports.

“You can't determine what happened that many years ago, what transpired,” Therese Barbera, a spokesperson for the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office, told the BBC. “All we know is that he went missing off the face of the Earth, and now he's been discovered.”

Barbera told the outlet that she was not aware of the car being identified by any photos on Google Earth and said that a neighbor reported seeing the car.

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