The search for 'a good soul' continues on Anna Maria Island

rdymond@bradenton.comJuly 26, 2011 

ANNA MARIA — As she watched a front-loader unsuccessfully search for the remains of her missing friend Sabine Musil-Buehler Tuesday, Suzi Fox of Anna Maria Turtle and Shorebird Monitoring remembered Musil-Buehler as a “fun-loving person with a good soul.”

“She was the most creative and talented person you could ever meet,” Fox said Tuesday as the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office’s dig for Musil-Buehler worked between Cedar and Palmetto avenues without coming up with any additional clues.

“Give her a common chore and she would create a masterpiece,” Fox saidof her long-time fellow turtle advocate.

Fox once asked Musil-Buehler just to put down the names of Turtle Watch members on a card for an event.

Musil-Buehler created a huge poster filled with sea colors and drawings. Fox ended up hanging it in her house for years.

“It was supposed to be like a program and it turned into art,” Fox said.

Although Tuesday’s beach search didn’t turn anything up, authorities plan to push ahead into Wednesday and will take another look at the big picture after that, said Randy Warren, a sheriff’s office spokesman.

“I want to find her,” said a determined Detective John Kenney of the sheriff’s office as he monitored Tuesday’s dig from an all-terrain vehicle on the beach.

“They are digging a little deeper today,” Fox said Tuesday.

Musil-Buehler was the kind of person who threw a party every time the season changed. The house she shared with her husband, Thomas Buehler, was on a canal on Anna Maria Island and was one of those houses you could visit 50 times and find something new to enjoy every time, Fox said.

“She was a master gardener who recycled and composted everything,” Fox said. “Their home was an oasis. Friends would come over from her native Germany and stay with her for long periods of time.

“I came over to her house once for a party and she said, ‘You need to learn to dance the Macarena,’ “ Fox said. “She said, ‘Just stand behind me. I’ll teach you.'"

The small, but artful, Haley’s Motel on Anna Maria Island, which Musil-Buehler and her husband operated, was the Island’s first pet-friendly motel, Fox said.

“Sabine would feed baby, orphaned wild birds with an eye-dropper,” Fox said. “You knew her motel would allow animals. She loved them. She loved life. That’s why it’s hard to believe anyone would kill her. Get mad at her, sure, I can understand that. She was strong-willed. She would scream at you one minute and invite you to dinner the next. But slam the door and leave. I can’t imagine anyone killing her.”

Fox said she kind of hopes that when Musil-Buehler is finally found, it’s not on the beach.

“We’re actually pleased that maybe we can soon eliminate the beach as a possibility,” Fox said. “It will give us a sense of peace every time we come here if we can believe that our good friend isn’t buried here. But if she is found here, that would at least bring a sense of closure.”

Fox doesn’t ever remember meeting Thomas Cumber, the man authorities say was the last person to see Musil-Buehler alive in November 2008.

Cumber, who is serving a 13-year sentence in a Panhandle prison for violating terms of his probation, is said to be a “person of interest” in Musil-Buehler’s disappearance.

“I often think of her as the kind of woman who likes to rescue orphans of all kinds,” Fox said.

Richard Dymond, Herald reporter, can be reached at 748-0411, ext. 6686.

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