Google Earth Uncovers Car In Pond — and Skeleton of Driver Missing for 22 Years

September 13, 2019by Doug Phillips and Lois K. Solomon

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Barry Fay couldn’t believe what a neighbor was telling him: Google Earth showed a car rotting at the bottom of a pond behind his home.

“Why? Where?” he said. “There’s no car behind my house.”

Fay might have been even more incredulous had he known the car contained the skeleton of a man missing for 22 years.

The 50-year-old Wellington man called the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office, which found the remains of William Earl Moldt, a Lake Worth resident last seen in 1997.

According to the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System, Moldt, then a 40-year-old resident of Lake Worth, was last heard from Nov. 7, 1997, around 9:30 p.m., when he called his girlfriend to say he was leaving a nightclub and would be home soon.

Almost 22 years passed. Finally, on Aug. 28, deputies got the call from Fay and lifted the car from the pond in the gated, single-family Grand Isles development in Wellington, where Fay had moved 14 months before from Sunrise.

What caused Moldt’s white Saturn SL to sink into the retention pond remains a mystery.

Divers lift cars from canals on a regular basis in South Florida. In 2017, when water managers lowered the depth of the Boca Rio canal before Hurricane Irma, they found six vehicles, including a Toyota with the remains of Loraine Pinto of Boca Raton inside. She had disappeared about nine months earlier.

These crashes occur most often during clear days on dry, rural roads, a South Florida Sun-Sentinel analysis shows.

Between 2011 and 2016, there were 168 water-related deaths from car accidents in the state, according to Florida Department of Transportation data. Bad drivers and alcohol were factors in about a quarter of the cases.

Of those fatalities, Palm Beach County had the most in South Florida, 29, while Broward had 25 and Miami-Dade eight.

In the Wellington case, Fay said his neighbor’s ex-husband, who used to live in the neighborhood, discovered the submerged 1994 Saturn SL on Google Earth.

Fay was skeptical, so he called a neighbor who operates a drone. The drone confirmed the Google Earth sighting.

“I called the former owner of my house and asked if she knew about this,” Fay said. “She was shocked.”

The grainy image from Google Earth shows a car resting on its side at a ledge where the pond comes to an end between rows of residences near the 3700 block of Moon Bay Circle. The community was under construction when Moldt disappeared.

“The vehicle’s exterior was heavily calcified and was obviously in the water for a significant amount of time,” the Sheriff’s Office said.

The Saturn and the skeletal remains were towed to the Palm Beach County medical examiner’s office for processing.

The remains were identified as Moldt’s on Tuesday, the sheriff’s office announced late Wednesday.

According to the missing persons site NAMUS, Moldt did not appear intoxicated when he left the adult nightclub in his vehicle alone. The site also says Moldt “was not a frequent drinker but did have several drinks at the bar.”

The site described him as 6 feet tall and 225 pounds with brown eyes. He was wearing gray pants, a white button-down Oxford shirt with stripes, a tie a black belt, and a Gruen men’s watch with gold band and blue face. He wore a 14-karat solid gold nugget ring with two diamonds on his left hand.

He was 40 when he went missing.

———

©2019 Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)

Visit the Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) at www.sun-sentinel.com

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

In The News

Trump Rallies to Kavanaugh’s Defense After New Sexual Misconduct Allegation Surfaces Supreme Court
Trump Rallies to Kavanaugh’s Defense After New Sexual Misconduct Allegation Surfaces

WASHINGTON — President Trump vigorously defended Brett Kavanaugh on Sunday following a new allegation of sexual misconduct during the Supreme Court justice’s college years, as some leading Democratic presidential contenders raised fresh suspicions that Kavanaugh was untruthful during last year’s Senate hearings leading to his confirmation... Read More

After Mass Shootings, Gun Advocates in Texas Worry About a Political Shift Texas
After Mass Shootings, Gun Advocates in Texas Worry About a Political Shift

HOUSTON — Four years ago, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott urged his constituents to arm up. “I’m EMBARRASSED: Texas #2 in nation for new gun purchases, behind CALIFORNIA,” he tweeted. “Let’s pick up the pace Texans.” Last week, as Texas was coming to terms with recent back-to-back... Read More

US Punishes Syria With Sanctions — But Allies Like Jordan Also Pay a Price Syria
US Punishes Syria With Sanctions — But Allies Like Jordan Also Pay a Price

AMMAN, Jordan — Hamdi Tabaa, 83, a Jordanian business leader who once served as the nation’s trade minister, walked into a meeting called by U.S. Embassy officials in Amman. It was early March, and Tabaa and his colleagues at the Jordanian Businessmen Association were expecting a... Read More

Beyond Jeffrey Epstein, Suicide Among Inmates Is a Rising Problem Mental Health
Beyond Jeffrey Epstein, Suicide Among Inmates Is a Rising Problem

ATLANTA — One afternoon in August, six days after Jeffrey Epstein died by suicide in a Manhattan jail cell, Christi Phillips received a troubling message. Her husband, Mike, who is serving time at a state prison in Valdosta, Ga., overheard his cellmate talk about killing himself.... Read More

Voter Access Matters in 2020, and These Lawmakers Know It 2020 Elections
Voter Access Matters in 2020, and These Lawmakers Know It

WASHINGTON — As 2020 approaches, it’s becoming clearer that the race for the presidency is going to come down to a few key states. In some of those states, Republican-led legislatures restricted voting access in ways that experts say would disproportionately affect Democratic voters. In more... Read More

Bolton’s Ousting As National Security Adviser May Open Door to Diplomacy Foreign Affairs
Bolton’s Ousting As National Security Adviser May Open Door to Diplomacy
September 13, 2019
by HJ Mai

WASHINGTON - U.S. President Donald Trump’s firing of National Security adviser John Bolton earlier this week could have big implications on the administration’s handling of its most challenging foreign policy issues. Bolton, described as a conservative hawk due to his hard-line and interventionist foreign policy approach,... Read More

Straight From The Well
scroll top