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Arrest gives missing woman's husband new hope

MANATEE — The husband of missing Holmes Beach motel owner Sabine Musil-Buehler is hoping the arrest of her boyfriend, William Cumber, on Monday will lead to some clue of what happened to her.

Marion County Sheriff’s Office deputies arrested Cumber after pulling him over just before midnight driving a vehicle with an expired tag in the Ocala area. Cumber, on probation until 2011 for an arson conviction, was arrested on a charge of driving with a suspended license.

The Florida Department of Corrections has since revoked his probation, and he is being held in the Marion County jail without bond. He has been placed on suicide watch.

“It was a great Christmas present,” Thomas Buehler said Wednesday. “I still don’t know what is going on here. Both me and Sabine’s friends are very much in need of closure.”

Manatee County Sheriff’s Office investigators have named Cumber a “person of interest” in Musil-Buehler’s disappearance. He is the last person to have reported seeing the Haley’s Motel owner alive, according to sheriff’s spokesman Dave Bristow.

Cumber told the Bradenton Herald last week he does not know what happened to Musil-Buehler, and he believes she is still alive.

Manatee County Sheriff Brad Steube said Wednesday detectives plan to continue questioning Cumber while he is jail. He is expected to be brought back to Manatee County after Jan. 1 on the probation violation.

Steube said it is unknown why Cumber went to Marion County.

“I don’t have the answer to that. What he did wasn’t too bright, but we don’t know yet if it will help our case,” Steube said.

Buehler, who believes his wife has been killed, had another take.

“I think he was fleeing the area,” he said of Cumber.

With Cumber behind bars, detectives urgently want to talk to a passenger in the vehicle deputies pulled over in Marion, Steube said.

Marion deputies released the man, who owns the vehicle, after arresting Cumber. Manatee detectives know who the man is but continue to look for him, Steube said.

“If in fact he and Cumber left from here together, that is like a two hour drive. We would be very interested to know what they talked about,” said Steube.

Steube declined to release the name of the man but said a statewide alert bulletin has been issued to all law enforcement should contact be made.

“We have put it out there that we really need to talk to this person, and to notify us immediately if he is located,” Steube said. Musil-Buehler and Cumber had been living together in an apartment since his release from prison in September after serving three years for burning down an ex-girlfriend’s house. Musil-Buehler and her husband had been separated but remained married.

Cumber told deputies he and Musil-Buehler had fought on the night of Nov. 4, the last time he said he saw her, and she drove off. He said he has not seen her since and believes she is still alive.

On Nov. 6, Manatee deputies stopped a man driving Musil-Buehler’s car near 14th Street West. The driver, Robert Corona, told authorities he stole her car after finding it with keys in the ignition in the parking lot of the Gator Lounge on 14th Street West. Corona has pleaded not guilty to a charge of grand theft auto.

Detectives found Musil-Buehler’s blood in the car and pieces of upholstery ripped out, but sheriff’s officials say Corona is not believed to be involved in Musil-Buehler’s disappearance.

Almost two weeks after Musil-Buehler disappeared, a fire broke out at Haley’s Motel, destroying a duplex on the property. Holmes Beach Police called the fire suspicious and named Cumber as a person of interest in the fire. The fire is still under investigation by police and state fire marshals.

Cumber has denied involvement in the fire, telling the Bradenton Herald he is being framed.