Officials in Palm Beach County, Fla., have identified a man whose skeletal remains were recovered from a car found submerged in a retention pond in a densely populated residential neighborhood. The man had been missing for almost 22 years, and the vehicle was near the water’s edge — reportedly visible in Google Earth satellite imagery since 2007.
William Earl Moldt was reported missing on Nov. 8, 1997, when he didn’t return from a night out in Lantana, Fla. He was 40 at the time.
Local media report that a resident alerted police on Aug. 28 after spotting the submerged vehicle behind his home on Moon Bay Circle in Wellington. Police confirmed his findings and said the vehicle was heavily calcified and appeared to have been under water for a very long time. They sent the remains and the vehicle to the Medical Examiner’s Office, which was able to make a positive I.D. on Tuesday.
According to the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System, Moldt left a nightclub alone around 11 the night before he was reported missing. He did not appear to be intoxicated when he left, though he reportedly had several drinks at the bar. He had called his girlfriend from the bar at around 9:30 p.m. to say he would be home soon, and that was the last contact she had with him.
The housing development where Moldt’s remains were found was reportedly under construction at the time he went missing. It’s a neighborhood of cul-de-sacs and winding, looping roads dotted with similar retention ponds. According to an update posted to The Charley Project, an online repository of missing-persons cases, Moldt’s sunken vehicle had been plainly visible on Google Earth since 2007.