When Florida resident Barry Fay got a phone call from a former neighbor, no one imagined it would solve a 22-year-old mystery.
His neighbor’s ex-husband called Fay asking if he could take a look in the pond behind his house. The former neighbor was checking out his old neighborhood on Google Earth when he spotted the faint image of what looked like a white car on its side, just yards from the shore.
Fay went to his backyard and looked out over the water. From the shorelines, backyards and patios, at water level, no one could see a car in the articifial pond. Fay had another neighbor fly a drone over the water to take a closer picture.
Sure enough, a car had somehow gotten into the water with no one noticing.
That’s when the mystery started. There are no roads near the pond, which is completely surrounded by houses. No one had seen a car go in the water, heard anything crash into the water, or noticed so much as tire tracks.
Fay assumed it was “just some junked-up old car” and called the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office. Police divers arrived and confirmed someone put a car in the pond. A tow truck was called, cables attached and the car pulled out.
The heavily-calcified car appeared to be an early 1990s model. The windows were caked in mud, so divers broke the glass to see inside.
There was a skeleton in the front seat.
Police quickly pushed back onlookers and put up crime scene tape.
Investigators and medical examiners realized it was the answer to a two-decades-old mystery.
The white 1994 Saturn SL, and skeleton inside, belonged to William Earl Mondt.
His family and friends have been looking for him since 1997.
Mondt, then 40 years old, was at a nightclub on the night of Nov. 7, 1997 when he called his girlfriend to let her know he would soon be at their nearby Lake Worth home. Witnesses say he didn’t appear intoxicated when he left alone at around 11:00 p.m.
He never made it home. Mondt and his car seemed to have simply vanished.
It now appears Mondt somehow turned off the main highway home and into Fay’s neighborhood. Fay’s home, behind which Mondt’s car was found, is between a T-shaped intersection and a sharp curve.
But in 1997, the houses weren’t there. Developers had only just finished paving the steets and digging the pond. Without street lights to illuminate the curve or houses to block his path, he seems to have missed a turn in the dark and driven directly into the pond.
His car would quickly sink to the bottom, where no one noticed it for 22 years as houses sprang up around him. With only skeletal remains, no one can determine if Mondt was intoxicated, had a medical emergency or simply got lost.