MANATEE -- The 42-year-old boyfriend of popular Holmes Beach resident and Haley's Motel co-owner Sabine Musil-Buehler, who has been missing since Nov. 4, 2008, was charged with second-degree murder in her death Monday.
William Cumber was immediately transported from the Charlotte County Correctional Institute, where he was serving more than 13 years for probation violation, to Manatee County to stand trial, Manatee County Sheriff Brad Steube announced at a 3 p.m. press conference.
Steube said that despite the fact that the woman's body has still not been found, there was powerful evidence, including traces of blood found in Musil-Buehler's car and in her apartment, that led authorities to believe that Cumber committed the crime.
Steube also promised that at the trial, a motive for the murder will be provided by the state.
If convicted of second-degree murder, Cumber faces up to life in prison.
As word of the arrest spread through Anna Maria Island Monday, where Musil-Buehler was deeply entwined in the community's life through her membership in Anna Maria Island's sea turtle protection group, her artwork and her business connections, there was surprise, relief and satisfaction.
"I guess I feel it would feel good to all of us to finally put it to rest," said Musil-Buehler's close friend, Suzi Fox, director of Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch and Shorebird Monitoring.
Steube said he emailed Musil-Buehler's family in Germany and they responded, saying they were pleased with the arrest.
"I am happy justice was served," said Ben Conlon, a server at Hurricane Hanks, a popular tavern on the island.
The staff at Haley's Motel said Monday that Tom Buehler, Musil-Buehler's ex-husband, was not immediately available for comment.
Steube said that Cumber worked for Buehler in 2005
and that in September of 2005 was arrested and sent to jail for three years on an arson charge.
While it was common knowledge that Tom Buehler had hired Cumber, Steube also revealed that Musil-Buehler and Cumber corresponded during the three years he was in jail.
When he got out in 2008, Cumber moved into Musil-Buehler's apartment at 208 B., Magnolia Ave., Anna Maria.
Fox said Monday she did not know her best friend was writing to an inmate for three years.
"I didn't know they were pen pals," Fox said. "She and I never discussed him. I never really knew Mr. Cumber and met him only briefly. I have to say, none of us really knew Mr. Cumber. So, I feel, maybe, it's not fair to blast him right now. I trusted her instincts. That's why she was on my staff. I still stand behind her. I would, however, like to have a 10-minute conversation with her right now."
On Nov. 6, 2008 a deputy stopped Musil-Buehler's car, a white Pontiac convertible, for an equipment violation.
Robert Corona, who was driving Musil-Buehler's car, eventually told deputies he stole the vehicle from the Gator Lounge.
Detectives now believe Corona was not involved in Musil-Buhler's disappearance.
Deputies then went to Musil-Buehler's apartment on Magnolia where Cumber told them that he and Musil-Buehler had had an argument on Nov. 4, 2008, which was election night, and she got angry and left the apartment.
The sheriff's office report on the visit states that the apartment had a strong smell of bleach.
Evidence taken from the house later showed blood belonging to Musil-Buehler and blood belonging to Cumber, Steube said.
When a duplex at Haley's caught fire two weeks after Musil-Buehler went missing, Cumber left the area and was later arrested for violating probation on the 2005 arson charge and was serving his 13 years in the prison in Charlotte County.