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Google Maps helps solve decades-old missing man mystery

The missing man's car shows up in a 2007 satellite image on Google.

William Earl Moldt's car, which disappeared with the 40-year-old man in 1997, was discovered in this 2007 Google Maps image.
Google Earth screenshot by Steven Musil

The remains of a man who disappeared in Florida more than two decades ago have been found after his car was discovered on Google Maps, submerged in a pond. William Earl Moldt, 40, was reported missing on Nov. 7, 1997, after he failed to return home from a nightclub in Lantana, Florida.

Police launched a missing person investigation, but the case had grown cold until last month.  On Aug. 28, a property surveyor looking at Google Earth spotted the car in a retention pond in a housing development in Wellington, Florida, according to the Charley Project, which profiles unsolved missing persons cases in the US.

"Amazingly, [the] 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," the Charley Project said in a statement.

Responding deputies from the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Department found the heavily calcified vehicle not far from the shore and determined it had been in the water for a long time, a department spokeswoman told ABC 10.  Skeletal remains pulled from the car were identified by a coroner as Moldt.

The housing development where the pond is located was under construction at the time of Moldt's disappearance.

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