A picture is worth a thousand words. Sometimes all is needed to solve a mystery is the right photo with the correct missing details. Google Earth seems to have caught situations in the perfect moments to reveal precisely what people were looking for.
From missing cars to figures in lakes to illegal drug terrain, it’s incredible what images reveal. Sometimes it gives the necessary credibility because it portrays the clues needed to move forward. In some instances, decades-long cases were only able to be solved because a mysterious picture was presented. Let’s take a deeper look behind what these images were able to show.
In Wellington, Florida, an image displaying the shape of a car was taken over the pond of Moon Bay Circle. William Earl Moldt’s car was submerged in the pond for over 22 years. When taken out, whatever was left from his body was strapped to the drivers’ seat.
On the evening of November 1997, Moldt (a mortgage broker) had decided to go out drinking at a local club even though he rarely did. He had a few drinks but nothing to make him drunk. At approximately 9:30 PM, he spoke to his girlfriend and told her he would arrive home.
Moldt didn’t socialize at the club that much and was left alone in his While Saturn SL. The National Missing and Unidentified Persons System reported that he didn’t display signs of intoxication. He never made it home that night, leading to a missing person case that lasted 22 years.
Someone then took a closer look at a satellite Google Earth photo. The car had a fossil-like appearance submerged in the corner of the pond. It was also evident that the vehicle had been in the water for a long time. Palm Beach County Sheriff stated that his remains were found in the car. The picture was taken in 2007. It wasn’t until 2019 that a property surveyor noticed the car in the Google Earth photo, and it was clearly visible.
This was part of the Charley Project, a database that gathers details about missing persons. When authorities were able to identify the body, the local Palm Beach Post shared the news publicly. A former resident flew a drone over the pond that confirmed the missing car was there and shared the information with a current resident. His remains were discovered on August 28th.
Once the car was dragged out of the water by investigators, it was sent to the county medical examiner’s office. Barry Bay lived behind the area where the vehicle was located. He shared that a neighbor asked him if he knew it was there after their ex-husband noticed it on Google Earth.
Fay was in awe. He asked the neighbor with a drone to double-check that the vehicle was there. Once confirmed, he contacted the Sheriff’s office, according to the report. The Charley Project shared that a housing complex located around the Grand Isles (the pond) was undergoing construction during Molt’s disappearance.
Lantana, where Molt went out that night, and Wellington, where the car was found, are about 20 miles apart. It is a mystery how his car ended up submerged. One thing is for sure; no one would have noticed if it wasn’t for the image revealing the outline of a vehicle.
In 2015, four Cameroonian soldiers were arrested and sent to 10 years in jail after having shot two women and two children. The first evidence that came out regarding the ruthless executions was a video showing the women and children being hooded and shot.
The footage wasn’t initially taken seriously and labeled “fake news” by the government, but eventually, seven soldiers were arrested. The power of Google Earth helped support their guilty actions. The geographical features in the photos, such as trees and buildings, were compared to the footage and revealed similarities.
The captured details allowed for the identifications of the soldiers, and then the pressure was placed on the government to prosecute them. They were able to profile the three soldiers responsible for the shootings.
The incident took place in a village in the north of Cameroon. The soldiers who shot the women accused them of being involved with militant Islamic group Boko Haram, who had crossed the border from Nigeria. They marched the women down a dusty road, one carrying a baby on her back, and shot them 22 times while blindfolded.
In addition to the 10-year sentence given to the soldiers who executed the women and children, another soldier was given a two-year sentence for videotaping and sharing the footage. The incident reached international attention due to a Twitter feed that received millions of views.
The government spokesperson initially denied the footage stating it was filmed in Mali and that the soldiers’ uniforms didn’t match those in Cameroon. However, too much evidence piled up, and it could not be denied any longer.
This mystery began in 2006. 72-year-old Davie Lee Niles was leaving Jake’s Bar as he always did in Bryon Township, Michigan. At the time, he was suffering from cancer and depression. He disappeared, and no one could locate him for almost a decade. His family had given up hope in search of him and remained heartbroken for years.
His location was discovered due to Google Earth’s detailed photo. Bryan Houseman was decorating a Christmas tree in Byron Center when he noticed the submerged car while standing on the lift.
“Woah, there’s a car out there,” said Houseman upon noticing the vehicle in the water. The Google Earth imaging confirmed the location of the car. The police pulled the car out of the water and were able to identify Niles as his remaining items included his wallet.
For the family who was struggling to understand what happened to him, the discovery was a long time in the making. After searching for nine years, they were finally relieved; “It’s good to have him home,” said Scott Hathaway, Niles’s son-in-law.
Switzerland is known for a few things: its chocolate, being a neutral country, and an excellent place to ski. Most people wouldn’t know that the country contained an unknown cannabis farm. You guessed it; it was discovered via satellite Google images taking a closer look at a cornfield.
The Swiss police responsible for drug violations discovered the cannabis farm in 2009. More than a ton of marijuana was confiscated, and 16 people were arrested. Zurich’s drug police noted that the Google Earth image revealing millions worth of narcotics was “an interesting chance discovery.”
Weed operations aren’t the only thing that Google Earth could catch. Three audacious heroin dealers were caught in an act in 2010. A Google Street View car passed by the corner of Brooklyn, New York, where the dealers were standing.
The dealing location caught Shaundell Dade, Jamel Pringle, and Jonathan Paulino in the act. From a particular perspective, the image displayed one of the dealers shouting out to a mapping car. They were gathered shortly after with four more suspected in a sting operation set out by NYPD.
Patrolling Street View Cars were even able to identify armed robbers who committed their crimes indoors. In Oklahoma City in 2011, a woman was held at gunpoint by two robbers carrying weapons.
The woman shared that the entire traumatizing experience lasted more than an hour, and she thought it would be the end for her. Initially, the police didn’t reveal any concrete leads or forensic evidence. In 2014, her friend looked at an image of her house on Google Street View displaying the two men that were described to have committed the robbery.
A 14-year old boy was robbed in Groningen, Holland. Two men ambushed him, stole his bike, cash, and phone. When he went to the police, they weren’t much help. Then he discovered something on his own about a half year later.
He looked up the street view of where he was robbed, and a mapping car caught the images of the two men surrounding the boy just as they were about to mug him. He immediately contacted the cops, who requested from Google that the men’s faces be unblurred.
In Athens, just because you want a pool doesn’t mean you can build one. Adding a swimming pool to your property requires a special permit, and not everyone in Athens abided by this law. With the help of Google Earth, police were able to discover thousands of illegally built pools.
Before making the discoveries, Greek Police noted that there were 324 pools in the suburbs of Athens, which seemed too low. The financial crime investigators began using the power of Google Earth to try and locate all the pools.
The images revealed an astonishing 16,500 swimming pools. After months of discoveries, the authorities were able to locate the houses that had disregarded the necessary taxes for pool building. This turned into a full-out crackdown on fraud by the Greek government.
The government made a lot of cash as they searched for all the houses that were secretly building swimming pools. They were forced to pay their taxes, which seemed to lead to an entire ordeal for the government… and a means to make money.
Apparently, a man decided to sell a house that was way above any amount it could be worth. 280,000 Euros was his selling price. The authorities suspected that something wasn’t right and looked up the house’s location on Google Earth.
The Villa’s location had a specific phallic-shaped swimming pool that the authorities could match to his house. It turns out its selling price was ridiculously high. He owed tax collectors more than seven million years in unpaid taxes.
It was the second time David Soanes had bought a caravan after an irresponsible driver destroyed the first one. He paid 12,000 euros for the car only to have it stolen once again from his driveway. The incident eventually gained fame because it wasn’t an unfortunate situation that turned into a pure portrayal of good luck.
Reuben, David’s 11-year old son, searched for their home on Google Street View. Shockingly, the images taken by the mapping car caught the crook in action as he was stealing the vehicle. What are the odds?
The image caught the man just seconds before he was about to get away with the car they suspect. The Google Mapping car caught the photo in perfect timing. They were able to arrest the culprit after convincing Google to unblur his face and license plate.
The picture displayed an incredibly clear image of the man, and the license plate details were gathered. The fact that the mapping car happened to be there to capture all the necessary details to catch the man was astonishing for the authorities.
Sometimes the Google images reveal exactly what we needed, and sometimes they can give the illusion of something completely different. In 2013, a Google Earth photo captured what looked like to be a bloody murder.
In addition, a blood trail was discovered by a Reddit user. The trail was drawn out along a dock standing in the water of a park in Almere, Holland. The user posted “A murder near my house on Google Maps, link in comments.” This certainly seems suspicious from the satellite point of view.
In the central part of the dock, the outline makes out a man standing over a dark object with blood surrounding him. The picture stirred panic when it was first seen. However, after a more precise glance, the picture showed a man standing with his wet dog.
The “trail of blood” was actually a trail of water. Internet users who saw the photo eventually discovered what was really happening in the video. I guess the dog went for a nice dip in the pool and made his way back to his owner.
A Google Earth photo caught an island in a lake that was situated on a bigger island. The picture is unique from the satellite point of view. The smaller island in the photo is a volcano island located in a crater lake called Lake Tall.
The larger island is Luzon, located in the Philippines. This is an environmental phenomenon. It was thought to be the largest one in existence. However, a 4-acre area located in Northern Canada is bigger and has never been visited by man.
Google Earth has located some ancient art carved on the surface of the Earth. The wheel-shaped structures dating back as far as 8,500 years ago were routed along the Azraq Oasis in Jordan. The Aerial Photographic Archive for Archaeology in the Middle East (APAAME) and scientists have been searching for such structuring with the help of Google Earth.
The wheel-like structures are referred to as the “works of old men.” Not all of them are shaped like wheels. Some resemble squares, rectangles, or triangles.
A North Carolina blogger of Google Earth Anomalies has said she discovered clusters of pyramid complexes in Egypt via satellite imaging. Experts beg to differ, referring to the images as eroded hills filled with empty hope.
The blogger claimed the structures to have been built in a specific arrangement and that they contain the characteristics of ancient pyramid sites. Further research has dismantled her claims to none other than basic buttes. The experts labeled the so-called “pyramid” as natural rock formations mistakenly thought to contain archeological features.
Australian researchers discovered an island in the South Pacific in 2012 as big as Manhattan. Nicknamed Sandy Island, the mysterious place was revealed on the map in the northwest part of New Caledonia. On Google Earth, it appeared to be a black polygon.
In November of 2012, scientists sailed to the location to check this was true. What they discovered was a plain open body of water as opposed to a solid island. It seems the landmass that appeared in the photos was a mistake as a result of human error.
In the middle of a nowhere part of Kazakhstan, an outline of a five-pointed star surrounded by a circle was discovered. The pentagram located in central Asia is about 1,200 (366 meters) in diameter and resembles a basic sketch.
The detail displayed on the Google Earth picture is extremely specific. Some people referred to the image as a heinous religious sign or a reference to the underworld. The pentagram outlines a park in the shape of a star. The lines of the star are actually rows of lined trees.
A Google Earth photo taken of the Egyptian desert close to the shores of the red sea resembles a spiral-shaped portal to an alternative universe, or perhaps a message from aliens. The structure is referred to as Desert Breath.
Surprisingly, this wasn’t a natural phenomenon, but actually a piece of art created by Danae Stratou, Alexandra Stratou, and Stella Constantinides that is 1 million square feet (100,000 square meters) in size. He made this to celebrate “the desert as a state of mind, a landscape of the mind.”
Damage to a UNESCO World Heritage Site was caught via Google Earth Images. Ever since the Civil War in Syria broke out, damage to one of the oldest occupied areas in the world has undergone severe damage.
The image reveals the ancient Roman city of Apamea filled with holes dug up by ravagers since the beginning of the war. An archeologist at Durham University in England said, “It looks like the surface of the moon.” The archeological damage in Syria was published in a report in 2013.
Nicknamed “The Boneyard,” the David Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, Arizona, is where useless airplanes are sent. This is an actual 2,600 cemetery for aircrafts that are essentially sent to die. People cannot visit it, but Google Earth gives us a great view of everything inside.
Their airplanes from all eras ranging from B-52 blown in World War II to the F-14 Tomcat. Interestingly enough, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers used the boneyard as a backdrop to his music video, “Learning to Fly.”
A billionaire Sheikh by the name of Hamad bin Hamdan al Hahyan is also a member of the ruling family of Abu Dhabi. He had his name carved out in Futaisi Island in the Persian Gulf. Certainly, no one will forget that he owns the island.
The letters can be viewed from space and are potentially the largest in the world. Maybe you’re thinking the same thing as me. Wouldn’t the letters wash away? Well, these letters are so massive that they absorb the surrounding tide to create waterways.
In Mesa Heurfanita, New Mexico, Google Earth found two diamonds surrounded by circles resembling a pair of secret bunkers. The Markings site was claimed to belong to the Church of Scientology by author John Sweeney.
The religion’s website is highlighted by various characteristics that “offers a precise path leading to a complete and certain understanding of one’s true spiritual path…” According to the Daily Mail, symbols like these are supposedly there to help Scientologists return to Earth escaping a planetary “Armageddon.”
Google Earth’s capabilities have also discovered some of Earth’s most beautiful places and not just views from afar. In 2010, a jaw-dropping bridge was found in the Guanxi Autonomous Region of China.
The panoramic view of the bridge reveals a 120m natural arch over a stunning river that is still unknown to many in China. Jay Wilbur, an American Arch fanatic, was the one to discover the arch. He went on a rafting trip with a seven-person team to discover it was longer than Utah’s largest previous recorded arch.
In 2005, the Kew Royal Botanic Gardens of the UK revealed a hidden discovery. On top of the distant Mount Mabi (1700m high) in Mozambique lays a beautiful rainforest 43-square kilometers (about 16.6 square miles) in length.
This remote rainforest is home to species that were not known to science previously. New groups of butterflies, snakes, and chameleons were affirmed. The discovery also led to saving the natural habitat as the Mozambique government finally ordered conservation measurements to prevent logging. Additionally, this was the largest rainforest in Africa with medium altitude.
In 2016, a film director and producer discovered a spinning island in Ojo del la Tierra, Parana Delta, Argentina. Otherwise known as “The Eye,” this floating island continuously rotates around a larger circular lake in North-East Argentina.
The director (Sergio Neuspiller), whose focus is horror films, searched for movie locations and came upon the site. Although there is no explanation for how the island floats, there is a guess. There is methane gas under the island’s water that is most likely helping it stay afloat.
Categorized as the 175 confirmed best-preserved small impact sites on the globe, this three-meter high crater reveals particles surrounding it from the original explosion. It was noted in 2008 via Google Earth, but the actual satellite imaging was taken in 1972. This crater is extraordinarily rare and most likely resembles those that can be found on Mars.
This type of meteor only reaches Earth every 10 to 100 years. A meteor like this was deemed to hit Earth about 2,000 years ago, allowing scientists to widen their knowledge regarding its risks.
Maybe if I travel to this Island, I will discover true love. Located on the Croatian coastline, “Lovers Island” is not home to any human being and is outlined in the shape of a heart. Marco Waltenspiel, Amy Chmelecki, and Marco Furst, who are Red Bull adventurers, flew over the island wearing wingsuits in 2016.
It has been a highly requested destination for those seeking a romantic getaway. It was spotted in 2009, but findings have shown that the first actual discovery of the romantic spot was by Napoleons’ Cartographer in 1806.
Ever wonder what your great, great, a million times great grandfather looked like? Much credit to Google Earth: new caves were discovered by a professor at the University of South Africa. The caves became archaeological sites that led to the discovery of a two-million-year-old fossil of a new human species unknown previously to man.
The cave, which has no name, had become a finding added to the Cradle of Humankind, a World Heritage Site. Other findings included some unknown veggies such as wild olives.
Some of the weirdest moments have been caught by Google Earth imaging in the most random location. One image caught a group of people wearing pigeon masks in two single-file lines on a sidewalk in Tokyo.
In Dhaka, Bangladesh, two men seemed to be offering mobile dentist services as Google Earth imaging spotted them carrying a dentist chair on a platform connected to a bike. Maybe it’s a royal wedding we didn’t know about? A horse-drawn Cinderella carriage was captured on a highway in London.
When I think about scarecrows, one main thing comes to mind: a haunted straw figure scaring the living daylight out of people. It seems like an artist had a different interpretation of these creepy figures.
In Finland, Google Earth caught a picture of a field displaying 1000 scarecrows, otherwise known as “The Silent People.” In Kensington Gardens, London, Google Earth captured an artist painting the very same scene the photo captured. I wonder which one came out better, the painted portrait or the photo?
Google Earth managed to catch some animals in their natural and not-so-natural habitat. In Houston, a Google Earth image caught a dog secretly snacking on a plethora of leftover bagels. In the Kurile Lake in Russia, a picture of a bear was seen surrounded by a bundle of fish, making his dinner choice relatively easy.
Santa better count twice the next time he is set to head on his Christmas round. In Northern Norway, Google Earth caught a reindeer running across the road. Maybe Rudolph needed a vacation.
At first glance, this Google image seems to have caught an average photo of people waiting for their bus. However, if you look closely, it will shock you to discover that it’s a bunch of rag dolls made by Tsukimi Ayano to replace his neighbors in Nagoro, Japan.
If you think you’ve seen it all, just wait. In Victoria, British Columbia, a Google Earth image caught a horse, well, a man with a horse mask enjoying a banana while sitting at one café table on a random street.
A little terrifying, to say the least, was this image caught by Google Earth in Chicago. A decoration showing black faces and hands plastered on a window will make you jump. Hopefully, this was just a Halloween decoration and not there all year long.
If you’re a fan of Harry Potter, seeing Daigon Alley in real life is probably a dream come true. A Google Street View photo caught a detailed image of the iconic street found inside in the Warner Brothers Studio in London.
It’s no secret that people love trolling the internet, and, in this realm, people like trolling Google Earth images in their spare time. As a result, a new concept called “mapvertising” has emerged used to advertise brands in rare locations on Google Earth photos.
On a hillside in Chile, for example, the largest Coca-Cola bottle is displayed. It combines 70,000 empty coke bottles. Right of the extraterrestrial Highway in Nevada, a logo of KFC (Colonel Sanders) can be seen. It looks like Google Earth is used for entertainment as well.
Other than images, Google Earth offers various services and tools. Examples of tools include distance measuring, a detailed view of the night sky, and a flight simulator. Some people believe that Google Earth infringes on privacy and security rights.
As a result, countries have requested that particular areas not be mapped on such a military basis. Ever used Google Earth for street views? The imaging provides a 360-degree panoramic view and its surrounding area. The photos can be captured due to cameras placed on automobiles at a high level.
In 2011, Google raised the bar when it increased the resolution of ocean surfaces. The view went from floor areas seen at 1-kilometer grids to 100 meters. This acute focus can be used for 5% of the oceans.
Areas that use this precision include the Hudson of New York City, the Mendocino Ridge off the Pacific Ocean, and the Wini Seamount close to Hawaii. Other features also allow you to take a deeper look into outer space and explore other planets like Mars. Earth’s Moon can also be analyzed using the technology.