Google Earth accidentally discovered the body of a man who went missing 22 years ago

Google Earth has a lot of uses, but detective work is not usually among them. This has now changed thanks to the technology accidentally resolving a missing person case.

Nov 3, 2019 |
3 min read

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People go missing every day. It’s an unfortunate fact of life. Approximately 90,000 people are missing in the United States alone right now.

It’s always a relief when these individuals turn up safe and well. In some cases, however, missing people are never seen again. As you can imagine, this causes no end of anguish for families and friends who are left to wonder what has transpired.

William Earl Moldt, a 40-year-old man, was one of these unfortunate statistics. On July 11th, 1997, Mr. Moldt enjoyed a night out at a nightclub in Florida. So far, so normal – people do this all the time.

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Photo by National Missing And Unidentified Persons System

Apparently, he called his girlfriend at around 9.30pm and said that he would be home in short order. It was said that he left the club at around 11pm, stone-cold sober and showing no signs of any kind of distress.

Unfortunately, he never made his way home that night. He was officially declared missing in November of the same year (the reason for the delay is not clear.) William Earl Moldt officially remained on the missing list – until now.

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So has William Earl Moldt been found?

Yes, he has, but the story doesn’t have an entirely happy ending. After 22 years, the body of Mr. Moldt was found via Google Earth images. It was a complete accident, but perhaps this will bring closure to those close that may need it.

A neighbor of the Grand Isles gated community in Wellington, Florida, was surveying the area on Google Maps. In doing so, she noticed something very strange. It appeared that a car was visible in the pond that blessed the property’s back yard.

The owner of the home was notified of this, which was a real headscratcher. He hadn’t parked a car in the back at the back of his property, and he surely would have noticed a vehicle slipping into his pond?

Photo by Google Maps

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Upon investigation, the shocking revelation was made. The car was a 1994 Saturn SL, which was the vehicle driven by Mr. Moldt. The local authorities were called, and confirmation was forthcoming.

Not only was this Mr. Moldt’s car – calcified by 22 years of submersion in water – but the now-skeletal remains of the man himself were inside. The car was lying just beneath the surface of the pond.

Deep enough to be invisible to the naked eye, but not buried so deep that it escaped the attention of an eye in the sky. It seemed that nobody had looked into or investigated this body of water in quite some time.

How did this happen?

Nobody knows for sure how Mr. Moldt’s car ended up in this pond. It’s worth noting that Grand Isles had not been built at the time of his disappearance – it was undeveloped land in 1997.

The local police force has been quick to point out that they do not suspect foul play. A theory has been posited that Mr. Moldt lost control of his car and drove it into the pond. For unknown reasons, he did not exit the vehicle and seemingly drowned. As nobody lived on the property at the time, his demise went unnoticed until now.

As for how nobody noticed a car in the pond … that is a mystery. It has shown up on camera now thanks to increasing advances and improvements in high-res technology.

Photo of Grand Isles from Google Maps

Previous images were considered too blurry and unclear to really make out. That contradicts the view of the Charley Project, however. This resource claims that the car has been visible via space-shot camera footage since 2007.

How about previous owners of the property? Was the car really invisible for all that time? And how about the smell of Mr. Moldt’s body? We don’t mean to be morbid, but a decomposing corpse will surely have released a distinctive and unpleasant aroma.

Besides, surely, any new owners of the home undertook a thorough and detailed survey of the property and surrounding area? One would imagine that a dead body is the kind of thing that would be uncovered during such an investigation.

Maybe there is more to discover and unwrap surrounding this story. All will likely become clear in time. The only thing we can say for certain is that William Earl Moldt is no longer on the missing list. Whether this is a positive or negative thing really depends on your perspective.

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