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Missing man’s body seen on Google Maps after nine years

Google’s satellites spotted the remains in a car at the bottom of a Michigan lake

The body of a man who had been missing for nearly a decade can be seen on Google Maps – in a car at the bottom of a lake. 

According to details supplied by the Kent County Sheriff's Department in Michigan, Davie Lee Niles' remains were found in the depths of a funeral home pond last Tuesday. However, despite finally being found by a nearby maintenance worker, his whereabouts had been eerily visible on Google Maps this whole time. “All of a sudden, it's like, 'Whoa, there's a car out there,'” said Brian Houseman, who discovered the body while installing Christmas lights. “No one could ever see it. It was murky and things moved around.”

Niles had been missing since October 11 2006 – and, although the news isn't exactly positive, his son-in-law Scott Hathaway is happy that the search is finally over. “For us today, it's a closure of a long search,” he told WOOD-TV. “Why God waited nine years, I have no idea, but we're happy. It's good to have him home.”

This isn't the first time Google has picked up something sinister, though. Last year, the site's all-seeing satellites managed to pick up an image of a man who'd been beaten, shot and left to die on a California railroad – calling into question the integrity and necessity of the worldwide mapping system. Is it really worth sacrificing every square inch of our privacy for the chance to do some unsatisfactory armchair tourism?

It's a divisive topic, and one that's also been broached by artist Jon Rafman; who collected the site's most strange and inexplicable images for his 9-Eyes project. “(Google Maps) represents a new type of surveillance very different from the totalitarian version depicted in books like 1984,” Rafman told Dazed in a statement. However, given the gruesomeness of this new discovery, it's a type that may ultimately be just as damaging.