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Did Google Maps capture a grisly murder?
At first glance, this image appears to show a man in the act of dragging a bloodied corpse down a pier and over the edge.
A pixelated image in Google Maps appears at first glance to show a man in the act of dragging a bloodied corpse down a pier and over the edge, leaving a telltale stain of red behind him.
While the coordinates of the map—posted in a Reddit thread by a dumbfounded resident of the affected Netherlands area—is only a few days old, the image seems to be dated from 2009. That wouldn’t stop Dutch cops from prosecuting. (There’s no statute of limitations for murder.)
However, it seems unlikely that the image actually is a body being thrown into the water.
If you zoom-in even further on the image, the blur of shapes appear to actually be two people and a dog, and there seems to be people standing around the edge of the water just off to the right. The fact that the “murder” is happening in broad daylight just feet away from a well-trodden footpath makes it a poor choice for a location.
Photo via Google Maps
It wouldn’t be the first time a death caught on Google maps turned out to be a false alarm. But stranger things have happened, and it’s not as if Google Maps hasn’t had a connection to grisly murder before.
Here are four times Google Maps did have a part in solving crime (and one time it played a tragic part in it being committed).
The police were stumped as to why this senior Wisconsin couple had been shot, execution-style, in their La Crosse home in 2010; but their son’s erratic behavior quickly made him a suspect. He protested his innocence, and although he was convicted last year, his trial launched a defense that is still getting lots of support: The Koulas were the victim of a hitman who used a mislabeled Google Earth map to send him to their house instead of their neighbor’s; the banker next door who’d been receiving death threats. CBS’ 48 Hours recently did a segment on the case, supporting the theory that their son Eric had been wrongfully imprisoned. So far, Koula continues to do time for the crime.
Future criminals, learn from the mistakes of Brad Cooper, who not only left his digital footprint all over his wife’s emails as he monitored them but also used Google Maps to plan the route he would take to dispose of her body once he had offed her. Cooper was sentenced to life in prison for the crime in 2011; last year he filed an appeal.
Even if this murder isn’t a real one, the Netherlands can still claim its share of Google Maps victories. A 14-year-old boy could get no justice for his stolen bike after two men forcibly stole it from him in broad daylight in 2008. But six months later, he happened across an image of himself and his beloved bike on Google Street View. And right behind him? The two men who stole it from him just moments after the picture was snapped.
Photo via CNet
The Dutch police stepped in and formally petitioned Google to give them the unblurred images of the street scene. Google cooperated, and the two men—twin brothers known for having committing robbery in the past—went to jail.
Patricia Thompson, 85, fell victim to a stone-cold burglar who targeted her house for its location using Google Earth. Steven Hodgson was sentenced to life in prison after he brutally attacked and strangled the elderly woman in 2010. In addition to other evidence linking him to the crime, British authorities found evidence that he had cased the joint via satellite view from his computer.
5) The killing of Santosh Kumari
Last year Punjabi military engineer Santosh Kumari was partying on a rooftop during Karva Chauth, an annual festival celebrated by Hindu women, when a stray bullet struck her in the head. Bathinda police used Google Maps to study the trajectory of the bullet and connect it back to the residence of Shganpreet Singh, who’d recently bought a gun. He’d been testing it on the night of the festivities by firing it into the air. Singh was charged with culpable homicide and endangerment.
Bonus: 5 more crimes on Google Maps
1) All of New York City’s murders from 2003-2011 plotted on Google Maps, thanks to the New York Times. So that’s why you’re able to afford your apartment.
2) A visual history of the horrifying Atlanta child murders. This compelling map shows the link between areas in Atlanta’s urban corridors and where nearly 30 children disappeared and were found dead between 1979 to 1981.
3) California corpse found lying next to railroad tracks. Warning for the squeamish.
4) Donkey murder? No worries—the donkey was unharmed.
5) Handjob. The best part of this public exposure is the look on the faces of the back-alley exhibitionists when they realize they’ve been caught on Google Maps. Even blurred out you can see their mortification.
Photo via Google Maps
Aja Romano is a geek culture reporter and fandom expert. Their reporting at the Daily Dot covered everything from Harry Potter and anime to Tumblr and Gamergate. Romano joined Vox as a staff reporter in 2016.