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Google Maps Helped Police Find Remains Of Man Missing For 20 Years

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Google Maps Helped Police Find Remains Of Man Missing For 20 Years

The remains of a man who went missing in Florida were found in a submerged car in Florida some 20 years after he disappeared - with the mystery finally solved thanks to the power of Google Maps.

The mystery of where 40-year-old William Moldt disappeared to on 8 November 1997 had left cops stumped, however, it was reportedly solved after someone spotted a sunken car in a pond on Google Maps and called in the police to investigate.

Cops were called after someone spotted a car on Google Earth. Credit: Google
Cops were called after someone spotted a car on Google Earth. Credit: Google
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His remains were found back in 2019 inside the submerged vehicle in a pond in Wellington, near Palm Beach, after the manager of The Grand Isles housing development spotted them on Google Earth, Newsweek reports.

The Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office said Moldt was reported missing in November 1997, but that the disappearance had remained unsolved with no new clues.

Back in 1997, the area where he was found was a building site.

Credit: Google Maps
Credit: Google Maps
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After being called out to the scene, cops determined the car had likely been there for a long time due to the condition it was in.

Upon hauling it out of the water, the remains were discovered and handed to the medical examiner's office to process them and get an identity.

According to The Charley Project - an online database that collects information on US cold cases - it was possible to see the car on Google for more than a decade.

William Moldt was reported missing in 1997. Credit: The Charley Project
William Moldt was reported missing in 1997. Credit: The Charley Project
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A listing about the case reads: "Amazingly, the vehicle had been plainly visible on a Google Earth satellite image 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."

A report from the The National Missing and Unidentified Persons System states Moldt had left a nightclub on the evening of 7 November.

He had called his girlfriend at around 9.30pm to tell her he would be home soon, but had not been heard from since.

The report explained that Modlt was a quiet man who did not socialise much, saying: "He also was not a frequent drinker but did have several drinks at the bar."

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It added that he did not appear intoxicated and left alone in his vehicle.

Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office told the BBC in 2019 that Moldt is presumed to have lost control of his vehicle, and in turn ended up driving into the pond.

The force said that there was 'no evidence of that occurring' until a shift in the water made the car visible.

Police spokeswoman Therese Barbera told the outlet at the time: "You can't determine what happened that many years ago, what transpired.

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"All we know is that he went missing off the face of the Earth, and now he's been discovered."

Additional reporting: Claire Reid

Featured Image Credit: Google Maps

Topics: News, Google Maps, US News

Jess Hardiman
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