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Google Earth Leads to Discovery of Man Missing Since 1997

Newser — Evann Gastaldo

On Nov. 7, 1997, William Earl Moldt called his girlfriend around 11:30pm and told her he was heading home from a nightclub. The 40-year-old Florida man never made it home, and for nearly 22 years, his whereabouts remained a mystery.

But that changed last month—thanks to Google Earth, the South Florida Sun Sentinel reports. Deputies were called out to Palm Beach County retention pond Aug. 28 on a report of a submerged car; inside the car were skeletal remains that, the sheriff's office says, were identified as Moldt on Tuesday.

According to the Charley Project, which maintains an online list of anyone missing a year or more, someone spotted the car on Google Earth.

"Amazingly, a 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, when a property surveyor saw the car while looking at Google Earth," says the website, which has an image of the satellite photo from Google Earth.

It notes that the housing development in which the pond sits had been under construction when Moldt went missing. According to the AP, the sheriff's office says it was a former resident of the neighborhood who first zoomed in on the pond while looking at Google Earth and saw the car; he then contacted a current resident, who used a drone to confirm the car was there.

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