Google Earth helps solve the mystery of decades-old U.S. disappearance

Florida man

Florida man

Investigators have confirmed that skeletal remains found in a vehicle submerged in a retention pond are that of a man who went missing in 1997.

Moldt, a 40-year-old mortgage broker, rarely drank, but he had chose to go out that evening in November 1997.

The Charley Project is an online database collecting and profiling thousands of cold missing persons cases in the U.S.

For 22 years, the whereabouts of William Earl Moldt remained a mystery - until someone looked on Google Earth.

When officers arrived at the scene, they confirmed a vehicle was in the pond. Deputies then found the remains.

Mr Moldt's sunken auto was spotted by a previous resident of the area after "doing a Google search", police said.

Local media report that a resident alerted police on August 28 after spotting the submerged vehicle behind his home on Moon Bay Circle in Wellington.

The skeletal remains were of William Moldt, who went missing in 1997 at the age of 40, according to the Palm Beach county sheriff's office.

That person called the current resident on Moon Bay Circle to tell him that there appeared to be a vehicle behind his home, deputies said in a Facebook post. But that changed last month-thanks to Google Earth, the South Florida Sun Sentinel reports.

"You can't determine what happened that many years ago, what transpired", police spokeswoman Therese Barbera said.

Ms Barbera said it was a neighbour who reported the sunken vehicle and was not aware of reports that Google Maps had been used.

According to The National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs), on the evening of November 7, 1997, Moldt left a night club at about 11 p.m. While he was apparently not a frequent drinker, he did have several drinks in the club on the night of his disappearance. He reportedly did not appear intoxicated and left alone in his vehicle.

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

Mr Moldt's family has been informed about the discovery of his remains.

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