Almost four years ago, on Oct. 15, 2015, William Cumber provided investigators with a clue with which the finally unlocked a seven-year-long mystery: The location on Anna Maria Island where he buried businesswoman Sabine Musil-Buehler after he killed her.
He revealed the grisly details on the crime as part of a plea bargain in exchange for a 20-year prison sentence.
That night, during an argument, Cumber struck the woman twice in the head before choking her to death. He then rolled her body up in a bed sheet, put her body on the back seat of her car, picked up a shovel from the motel she owned with her estranged husband and buried her at the end of the road, near the beach on Anna Maria Island.
“She said she couldn’t do this relationship anymore because of certain issues,” Cumber told investigators in a recorded interview. “She said it was getting stressful.”
Cumber quickly became a suspect in the case, but in the next seven years, during which Cumber was sentenced to prison for violating his probation for an earlier conviction, no charges were filed in the case, namely because investigators were never able to find Musil-Buehler’s remains. Over the years and convinced she was dead, they searched various locations on the island to no avail.
Until Cumber finally came clean.
“I’m really not a violent person when I’m drink, I’m kind of smooth and relaxed and everything, but there was a lot of stress going on in our relationship,” he said.
Here is the Bradenton Herald story on how investigators solved the mystery:
William Cumber says he strangled Sabine Musil-Buehler before burying her on the beach
Originally published Oct. 15, 2015.
MANATEE — William Cumber struck Sabine Musil-Buehler twice in the head before choking her to death. Deciding instantly that he was not going back to prison, he rolled his girlfriend’s body up in a bed sheet, put her body on the back seat of her car, picked up a shovel from the motel she owned with her estranged husband and buried her at the end of the road, near the beach on Anna Maria Island.
That was on Nov. 4, 2008. A couple days later, only after her car was recovered after being stolen from where Cumber dumped it, she was officially reported missing by her husband. Her body was never found, until Friday morning when the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office unearthed a skeleton from beneath a metal canopy near 81st Street in Holmes Beach, exactly where Cumber showed them he had buried her.
By the end of the day, the medical examiner had used dental records to positively identify the remains as belonging to Musil-Buehler.
The confession, a recording of which was released Friday, and directions to her grave site, were part of a plea agreement that Cumber entered into Thursday in exchange for a 20-year prison sentence.
In the recorded interview, Cumber told detectives, the prosecutor and his attorney how the couple had gotten into an argument over his smoking a cigarette, he said. Each had been watching television in separate rooms in the apartment they shared in the 200 block of Magnolia Avenue in Anna Maria.
“She said she couldn’t do this relationship anymore because of certain issues,” Cumber said. “She said it was getting stressful.”
Cumber admits he had about six or eight beers already and that Musil-Buehler had been drinking wine.
“I’m really not a violent person when I’m drink, I’m kind of smooth and relaxed and everything, but there was a lot of stress going on in our relationship,” Cumber said.
Musil-Buehler had finished getting dressed and was putting on her shoes as the conversation unfolded.
“I lose control, I hit her in the head,” Cumber said.
Cumber said he punched Musil-Buehler with his left fist first, then hit her with his right.
“I don’t know, it’s a disgusting situation, man,” Cumber said as he tried to describe how he hit her. It’s only twice and he never picked up anything to hit her with, he adds confidently.
“She gets scared and covers her face with her hands,” Cumber said. “I reached and grabbed her throat and started choking her out.”
With no resistance from her, Cumber said he choked Musil-Buehler until she was no longer moving.
“I couldn’t believe what I did, I stared down at her,” Cumber said. “I decided I didn’t want to go back to prison. ... I thought of a way of disposing of her.”
Cumber told the attorneys and detectives how he then wrapped her body in a bed sheet, then scanned the road before carrying her out and placing her in the backseat of her car.
Cumber said he then drove to the Haley’s Motel, where he had once worked, and took a shovel from where he knew Musil-Buehler’s husband, Tom, kept his tools. Then he went down the road to his desired spot, he said.
“It just seemed like the most unexpected spot,” Cumber said. “It’s a spot where you would visit.”
He didn’t see anyone, but there are homes nearby.
“There was a possibility of me being observed as I was taking the body out,” Cumber said. “I was just taking my chances.”
Cumber said it took him about 20 minutes to bury Musil-Buehler in the hole he dug, which was at his about his waist when he stood in it. He then took Musil-Buehler’s car back to Magnolia Avenue where it was ticketed the next morning.
Assistant State Attorney Art Brown questioned him about cleaning up once he returned to the apartment. He said he cleaned what appeared to be a bit of blood off of the sofa arm with soap and water.
“When we went to your apartment, there was a pretty sniffy, strong smell,” homicide detective Jeff Bliss said.
Cumber said he mopped the floor, and Bliss asked if he had used bleach.
“I’m a stickler for clean floors,” Cumber said. “I don’t think I had any Pine Sol, so I probably ended up using bleach.”
He denied. however. that he mopped with bleach to clean up any potential evidence.
Brown also asked Cumber about his decision to later abandon her car in the parking lot of the Gator Lounge, 1814 14th St., Bradenton.
“It’s just a bar that I knew as busy,” Cumber said before confirming he left the keys inside.
He confirmed suspicions that it was done with the hopes the car would be stolen.
Cumber went on to detail how he took the bus and trolley to get back home to the apartment and how he later disposed of her cell phone, flushing the SIM card down the toilet and throwing the phone away in the trash somewhere in Bradenton Beach.
As detectives and Brown are heard discussing how Cumber will be escorted to Anna Maria Island to show them where the body was buried, Cumber interjects.
“When I said that she was getting tired of the situation, because it wasn’t just the smoking, it was the controlling issues that Tom was having on us. ... I wasn’t digging that,” Cumber said.
“She was siding with him.”