Man’s Decayed Body Finally Retrieved After 22 Years, With Help From Google Maps

By Victor Westerkamp

A 22-year-old missing person’s case was solved after someone spotted a car on Google Maps submerged in a pond in Florida.

William Earl Moldt called his girlfriend on Nov. 7, 1997, from a club in Palm Beach at about 9:30 p.m., and told her he would be home soon, BBC reported. After a few drinks, Moldt, 40, left the club and began his drive home to Lantana, Florida. He never arrived.

According to the Charley Project, 22 years later, a real estate surveyor was looking at the Grand Isles area of Wellington, when he suddenly spotted something eerily familiar just below the surface of the water—the silvery contours of a car.

The attentive property surveyor informed the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office and soon after they dispatched a tow truck to the scene. The car was raised from the mire with the remains of a body still inside. One week later, DNA testing positively identified the remains to be Moldt’s.

car william moldt
William Moldt‘s silver 1994 Saturn SL Sedan in the water near the 3700 block of Moon Bay Circle, in Wellington, Florida. (Google Maps)

Police believe Moldt lost control of his car and ended up in the water. Whether it was wilfully done or an accident, nobody can tell.

“You can’t determine what happened that many years ago, what transpired,” police spokeswoman Therese Barbera said, according to the BBC. “All we know is that he went missing off the face of the Earth, and now he’s been discovered.”

This was not the first time Google Maps proved helpful in retrieving a missing person. In 2015, a similar case involved a man missing for 9 years before he was found inside his car, submerged in a pond.

Missing Man Shown on Google Maps for 9 Years

On the night of Oct. 11, 2006, David Lee Niles, 72, had been spending the evening with a pal at a local pub, Jake’s Bar, in Byron Center, Michigan. Niles was suffering from cancer and struggling with depression at the time. Giving no reason, he abruptly left the pub that night, never to be seen again.

Nine years after Niles’s disappearance on Nov. 10, 2015, a man named Brian Houseman was on a lift, decorating a Christmas tree outside Cook Funeral Home in Byron Center. He noticed an object in the nearby lake off 84th Street SW that looked like a car.

The car-shaped object could clearly be seen submerged in the murky pool on a satellite image from Google Maps, and had been so for years.

Police were called to the scene and were able to retrieve Niles’s wallet, making identification straightforward.

The pond where Niles’s car was discovered was merely a half mile from where he was last seen.

Houseman’s discovery finally brought closure to Nile’s family. “I’m just happy for that,” he said.

Epoch Times reporter Li Yen contributed to this report