William Earl Moldt was last seen alive on November 7, 1997. The 40-year-old mortgage broker, a rare drinker, went to a local nightclub in Lantana, Florida, the Washington Post reports.
According to the missing person report following a police investigation, he mostly kept to himself in the club, before leaving around 11pm. As he left, he did not appear drunk. Before getting in his car, he had called his girlfriend to tell her he'd be home shortly. However, he did not show up that evening or any evening since, and it wasn't long before his case went cold.
He remained missing for the next two decades, with no leads to investigate or explanations for what may have happened to him. His family finally have closure now, after a local property surveyor from the Florida town, browsing Google Maps satellite images of his neighborhood, spotted a car partially submerged in a pond behind a nearby house.
After seeing the car, they went to the owner of the property, Barry Fay, to inform them of the find. Fay, having used a drone to fly over the pond and confirm the sighting, reported it to the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office on August 28, the Sun Sentinal reports. The car was lifted out of the pond and confirmed to be Moldt's 1994 Saturn SL. His remains were discovered inside.
“The vehicle’s exterior was heavily calcified and was obviously in the water for a significant amount of time,” the Sheriff’s Office told the Sun Sentinel.
The property had been in development at the time of Moldt's death, and the car went undiscovered throughout the rest of construction. According to the Charley Project – which documents cases involving missing persons – the car had been plainly visible on Google Earth since 2007, but nobody had noticed it until now.
"You can't determine what happened that many years ago, what transpired," police spokeswoman Therese Barbera told the BBC. "All we know is that he went missing off the face of the Earth, and now he's been discovered."