ANNA MARIA — Friends of Sabine Musil-Buehler are planning a candlelight vigil on the one-year anniversary of the last time anyone saw the Holmes Beach motel owner alive.
Musil-Buehler, 49, has not been seen since Nov. 4, 2008, when her then-boyfriend, William Cumber III, told Manatee County Sheriff’s Office investigators he had argued with her and she left their Holmes Beach apartment.
The candlelight memorial, open to the public, is planned for sunset Wednesday on the beach in front of the Sandbar Restaurant at 100 Spring Ave., according to friend Debby Hall. This memorial comes three days after Musil-Buehler’s estranged husband Thomas Buehler held a private memorial Saturday.
Hall said a stone memorial in honor of Sabine has been erected in the butterfly garden next to the Holmes Beach City Hall.
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“It was a beautiful ceremony,” Hall said. “But a lot of her friends did not get to attend, so we wanted to give them a chance to remember Sabine, who was so important to all of us.”
Sheriff’s officials have said they believe Musil-Buehler is a victim of foul play, and her body has never been recovered. Cumber has been named a suspect in her disappearance, but the case remains under investigation.
Musil-Buehler was not reported missing until Nov. 6, when sheriff’s deputies pulled over a man driving her stolen car off 14th Street West. The driver, Robert Corona, said he found her car with the keys in the ignition parked outside Gator Lounge and stole it to take a joy ride.
Forensic testing on the car revealed Musil-Buehler’s blood in the vehicle, but Corona is not believed to be involved in her disappearance, according to sheriff’s officials. He is, however, serving four years in prison for stealing her car.
Musil-Buehler’s estranged husband, Thomas, reported her missing when deputies came to his door on Nov. 6, saying they had found her car. He then pointed them to Cumber, an ex-convict she lived with who had served three years on an arson conviction. Cumber later said he may have been the last person to see her alive, but contended he had nothing to do with her disappearance.
Two weeks after Musil-Buehler disappeared, a duplex at Haley’s Motel, which she owned with her husband, erupted in flames. West Manatee Fire Rescue officials ruled the fire an arson, but said there is not enough evidence to make an arrest.
Like Corona, Cumber also is in prison after fleeing the county amid the investigation into Musil-Buehler’s disappearance. On probation from the arson conviction, a judge sentenced him to 13 years in prison for leaving the county and driving without a license, violating his probation.
Cumber claimed he cracked under the pressure of the investigation, saying he had been “framed,” hounded by sheriff’s investigators, and his reputation ruined by media coverage of the case.
Musil-Buehler’s disappearance also has made it into the courtroom as Thomas Buehler has asked to judge to declare her dead in order to collect a $300,000 life insurance policy in his wife’s name. The insurance company is fighting that declaration in court, saying she must be missing for five years. A hearing on the matter is set for Dec. 22.