Missing woman's family holds vigil at 'her last sunset'

One year after they last saw her, loved ones gather on beach to remember Sabine Musil-Buehler

bburger@bradenton.comNovember 5, 2009 

— ANNA MARIA - Wednesday marked exactly one year since friends saw a missing island woman.

Roses rested along the shores of an Anna Maria Beach after about 25 friends gathered to say goodbye to Sabine Musil-Buehler.

“This was her last sunset on this night,” said Debby Hall, a close friend of Musil-Buehler’s, just before a vigil.

Five of her girlfriends brought roses and a wreath made of Sabine orchids to cast in to the water in remembrance at sunset.

“We did a lot of beach walks at sunset,” said Tina Rudek, recalling her regular walks with Musil-Buehler. “I think that’s when we miss her the most. This is a place she enjoyed and she’s still here. We still feel her here.”

Musil-Buehler, who was dating William Cumber III at the time, reportedly left their apartment after an argument a year ago.

She was not reported missing until Nov. 6 when deputies discovered her car stolen from a 14th Street West parking lot.

Manatee County Sheriff’s Office investigators found Musil-Buehler’s blood in her vehicle and although her body was never found, foul play is suspected, according to authorities.

To this day, her loved ones don’t know what happened to Musil-Buehler. They just know she’s gone.

“That’s sort of the frustrating part about it. No one really knows. She is no longer here,” Rudek said. “She certainly would have contacted us.”

Rudek and several other of Musil-Buehler’s friends traveled to a memorial service in her hometown of Montebauer, Germany, in July on what would have been her 50th birthday. A memorial stone was placed at the grave sites of Musil-Buehler’s other family members.

On Saturday, Tom Buehler, Musil-Buehler’s estranged husband, held a private memorial service at a butterfly garden near Holmes Beach City Hall.

The services have been a way for people to cope and say goodbye.

“Everyone’s looking for closure, even people who knew her just a little bit. When you live on a small island, people think, ‘How could something like this happen?’ ” Rudek said. “No one knows. I think down the road there will be some answers, but we know she’s not here.”

Buehler, who ran Haley’s Motel with Musil-Buehler, attended the service and threw the wreath of orchids into the water. Friends followed, throwing roses. It was too windy to light candles. So friends held hands, sang and shared memories of Musil-Buehler.

As for Cumber, he is serving a 13-year sentence for violating his probation for an arson conviction after he left the county and drove without a license about a month after Musil-Buehler disappeared.

Cumber, who was named a suspect during the investigation, maintained his innocence during previous interviews with the Bradenton Herald.

“We are going to find out what happened. This is not over,” said Sage Hall, a friend of Musil-Buehler who hopes new leads come from recent publicity.

Anyone with any information can contact the sheriff’s office at 747-3011 or remain anonymous by calling Crimestoppers at (866)634-TIPS (8477).

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