Haunting Google Maps image helped solve a 20-year missing person case
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Featured Image Credit: The Charley Project/Google Maps
A 20-year missing persons case was incredibly solved thanks to help of pioneering technology – no, we’re not talking about DNA testing, but just plain old Google Maps.
William Moldt was 40 when he suddenly disappeared on 8 November 1997, but the mystery went unsolved for 22 years.
A report from The National Missing and Unidentified Persons System said Moldt had left a Florida nightclub on the evening of 7 November, having called his girlfriend at around 9.30pm to tell her he would be home soon.
When he left alone in his vehicle, he did not appear intoxicated.
However, he had not been heard from since.
The report said Moldt was a quiet man who didn’t tend to socialise much, adding: "He also was not a frequent drinker but did have several drinks at the bar."
The manager of The Grand Isles housing development in Wellington, near Palm Beach, spotted what looked like a vehicle submerged in a pond on the site.
After police were called in to investigate, it was determined that the car must had been there for some time, due to the condition it was in.
When it was hauled out of the water, they discovered the remains of a man and handed them over to the medical examiner's office to process them and confirm an identity.
You’ve guessed it: it was Moldt.
The area where he was found had been a building site back in 1997, when he went missing.
According to The Charley Project, an online database that collects information on US cold cases, it had been possible to see Moldt’s car on Google for more than a decade.
In 2019, Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office told the BBC 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: "You can't determine what happened that many years ago, what transpired.
"All we know is that he went missing off the face of the Earth, and now he's been discovered."