Search ends on Anna Maria Island for clues to businesswoman's '08 disappearance

pafshar@bradenton.comJuly 13, 2011 

MANATEE -- Sheriff's deputies for now have completed a search of a wooded area of Anna Maria Island, after items belonging to a woman missing since November 2008 were found there, according to the Manatee County Sheriff's Office.

A resident on Saturday found the items belonging to Sabine Musil-Buehler in a wooded area off Willow Avenue in Anna Maria, near the beach.

“We found some items,” said Ed Moss, who is staying in a family home in the area.

The sheriff's office has long believed that Musil-Buehler is dead.

On Tuesday evening, deputies brought in cadaver dogs from Sarasota to search the area, and the search resumed this morning.

“I wouldn’t say it’s the biggest lead we’ve had because as you all know we have been working this for a couple of years but this is a significant find,” said Sheriff Brad Steube during a news conference Wednesday. Authorities did not disclose what the items found Tuesday were or if anything else was found in the subsequent searches.

Steube said the dogs did pick up on two spots of interest that investigators reexamined today.

“What we want to be able to do is go up to the person of interest and maybe confront him with some of the things that were located and see what their reaction is,” Steube said.

Although no arrests have been made in the case, officials have called Musil-Buehler's boyfriend William Cumber, who was the last person reported to see Musil-Buehler alive, a person of interest in the past.

Cumber was sentenced to 13 years in prison for violating his probation after she disappeared. He had been on probation for an earlier arson conviction.

Two days after she was last seen, Musil-Buehler's car was found parked outside a 14th Street West bar in Bradenton, and Robert Corona was arrested on auto-theft charges.

Corona, however, is not considered a suspect in the woman's disappearance, according to the sheriff's office.

The search may resume later but among other things, but first authorities have to consult with other officials about the presence nearby of two loggerhead sea turtle nests.

“Obviously we’d like to bring some closure to this case,” said Steube, adding he thinks the sheriff’s office may end up doing a more intensive search of the area within the next few days.

Musil-Buehler, co-owner with her estranged husband Thomas of Haley's Motel in Holmes Beach, was last seen Nov. 4, 2008, and she is presumed dead, according to the sheriff's office.

"I just hope this will bring justice for Sabine," Thomas Buehler said Wednesday morning.

As deputies searched Wednesday morning, friends of Musil-Buehler arrived on the scene.

Sage and Debby Hall said it made sense to them that deputies would be searching through that area because Musil-Buehler and Cumber often used to go there together.

Debby Hall recalls the last phone call she made to Cumber after her friend’s disappearance.

“I asked him where Sabine was he was. He didn’t know, and I asked him where he was right now, and I just heard the wind. I could hear the waves and he said he was sitting in his favorite spot,” she said. “This is their spot. Right here.”

Hall said Cumber lived about two blocks from where deputies were searching.

In February 2010 the sheriff’s office examined two 20-yard-long holes, that were 4 to 5 feet deep and 8 to 10 feet wide dug by front-end loaders along the beach, which yielded no results.

Today’s search was about a football field’s distance from where that search took place.

Anyone with information about the case can call the sheriff's office at 9941) 747-3011 or Crime Stoppers at (866) 634-TIPS.

Bradenton Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service