The body of a man who had been missing since 1997 was found when his submerged car was spotted on Google Earth.
The discovery was made when a resident of Lake Worth, Florida, was looking through satellite images of his neighbourhood online, and noticed the outline of a car submerged in a pond near his home.
The car was not visible at ground level, but was clear to see on the satellite and drone imagery, and turned out to be a 1994 Saturn SL.
In a statement, Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office said, via NY Post:
Upon arrival deputies confirmed there was a vehicle in the pond. The vehicle’s exterior was heavily calcified and was obviously in the water for a significant amount of time. Upon removing the vehicle skeleton remains were found inside.
As authorities investigated the submerged car, the remains were taken to the Medical Examiner’s Office for ‘processing’, where they were later identified to be those of William Moldt, who was first reported missing on November 8, 1997.
Moldt was 40 years old at the time he went missing, WPTV reports.
According to the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System, Moldt left a nightclub around 11pm on the evening of November 7, 1997, and left alone in his vehicle.
Moldt was reportedly not a frequent drinker at the bar, and had ‘several’ drinks before he left, though did not appear intoxicated. He had phoned his girlfriend at around 9.30pm to say he would be home soon. That was the last contact the pair had.
Though the houses in the area were under construction at the time, the pond in which Moldt’s car was found was already there. Authorities are still trying to determine how the 40-year-old’s car ended up in the water.
Barry Fay, who reported the car to authorities, told the Palm Beach Post he had never seen it from the shoreline.
He told the paper, via The Guardian:
Never did I believe there would be a 22-year-old dead body.
According to the Charley Project, which keeps track of missing persons cases, Moldt’s car had been ‘plainly visible’ on Google Earth since 2007.
As per their website:
Moldt disappeared from Lantana, Florida on November 7, 1997. In August 2019, his body was found inside his car, which was in a lake in the 3700 block of Moon Bay Circle in the Grand Isles, a housing development in Wellington, Florida. The Grand Isles had been under construction at the time of Moldt’s disappearance.
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.
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Charlie Cocksedge is a journalist at UNILAD. He graduated from the University of Manchester with an MA in Creative Writing, where he learnt how to write in the third person, before getting his NCTJ. His work has also appeared in such places as The Guardian, PN Review and the bin.