Body of missing man found 22 years later after submerged car spotted on Google Earth

Peter Stubley
The submerged car had been visible on Google Earth satellite images since 2007: Google Earth
The submerged car had been visible on Google Earth satellite images since 2007: Google Earth

The body of a man who disappeared 22 years ago was discovered after a Google Earth user spotted his car submerged in a lake.

William Moldt went missing in November 1997 shortly after phoning his girlfriend from a nightclub to say he was driving back to their home in Wellington, Florida.

The 40-year-old was never seen again – until a former resident of the Grand Isle neighbourhood decided to look at satellite images of the area.

He zoomed into a lake near the 3700 block of Moon Bay Circle and noticed a white car submerged under the water at the rear of a row of properties.

The former resident then contacted one of the local homeowners, who used his personal drone to confirm that the vehicle was still there.

Police pulled out the car and discovered skeletal remains inside. They were positively identified as Mr Moldt a few days later, on 10 September.

Further investigation revealed the vehicle had been plainly visible on Google Earth since 2007. “The vehicle’s exterior was heavily calcified and was obviously in the water for a significant amount of time,” the Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office said in a statement.

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At the time of Mr Moldt’s disappearance the Grand Isles housing development was under construction.

Barry Fay, whose home is near where the car was found, told The Palm Beach Post that he had never seen the car from the shoreline. He added: “Never did I believe there would be a 22-year-old dead body.”

It comes three years after a 76-year-old missing man, Davie Lee Niles, was found in a pond in Michigan after a resident spotted his submerged car while decorating a Christmas tree. That vehicle had also been plainly visible on Google Maps for several years.

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