Cold case solved 22 years later after Google Earth satellite image shows missing man's car

It took 22 years, but a missing man's remains were finally found thanks to someone who zoomed in on his former Florida neighborhood with Google satellite images and noticed a car submerged in a pond, authorities said.

Police confirmed the skeletal remains found inside the vehicle were of William Moldt, who vanished Nov. 8, 1997 at the age of 40, the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office said Thursday on its Facebook page.

Sheriff's office spokeswoman Teri Barbera said Thursday that a previous resident of the Grand Isles neighborhood in Wellington was checking the neighborhood on Google Earth when he zoomed into the pond and saw what looked like a submerged car.

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The former resident contacted a current homeowner living in Moon Bay Circle, who used a drone to confirm it was a white car on the edge of the pond behind his house.

The man called the sheriff's office on Aug. 28, and deputies later arrived to find the white sedan's exterior "heavily calcified." After they got the car out, they found the skeletal remains inside.

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The vehicle was towed to the Medical Examiner's Office for processing, where the remains were positively identified as Moldt.

The National Missing and Unidentified Persons System says Moldt went to a nightclub in November 1997 but did not appear intoxicated as he left alone before midnight and was "not a frequent drinker." He had called his girlfriend from the club saying he would return to their Lantana home soon.

The Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office told the BBC that officials presume Moldt lost control of his car and crashed into the pond. Authorities have notified the family of the discovery of his remains, the news organization reported.

According to The Charley Project, an online database of cold cases in the U.S., a satellite image of the sunken car had been visible on Google Earth since 2007.

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The subdivision was under construction when Moldt disappeared, but the pond was already there. Barry Fay, whose home is near where the car was found, told The Palm Beach Post that he had never noticed anything from the shoreline.

"Never did I believe there would be a 22-year-old dead body," Fay told the newspaper.

Contributing: Associated Press. Follow Adrianna Rodriguez on Twitter: @AdriannaUSAT.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Google Earth helps solve missing Florida man cold case 22 years later