ANNA MARIA - Manatee County sheriff's investigators today were using a front-end loader to sift through Anna Maria Island beach sand for clues to the disappearance of motel owner Sabine Musil-Buehler.
Starting at about 8:30 a.m. detectives have been using the construction equipment to cut a channel in the sand about 5 feet deep and eight to 10 feet wide. Depending on what they find, the search could take several days, said Dave Bristow, spokesman for the Manatee County Sheriff's Office.
"It's going to be a tedious process," he said.
Bristow said detectives focused on the area as they investigate the Nov. 4., 2008, disappearance of Musil-Buehler, co-owner with her estranged husband of Haley's Motel in Holmes Beach. The dig site, about 100 yards south of the Sandbar restaurant in front of several houses, is near where Musil-Buehler and her boyfriend, William Cumber, shared an apartment.
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Cumber was reportedly the last person to see Musil-Buehler alive, and investigators have described him as "a person of interest" in the case. He currently is serving a 13-year prison sentence for violating his parole on an earlier arson conviction after Musil-Buehler went missing.
No one has been charged in Musil-Buehler's disappearance.
Two excavation experts from the Sarasota County Sheriff's Office were assisting with the search today.
About 1:30 p.m., front-end loader uncovered two sandals, which drew the attention of investigators. But it was not immediately known whether they were connected to the case.