HOLMES BEACH — Although it’s been nearly two months since anyone saw Sabine Musil-Buehler, her boyfriend said Saturday he believes she is alive.
Musil-Buehler, 49, co-owner of Haley’s Motel, was last seen by William Cumber III after they argued the night of Nov. 4.
“I think she’s still alive. She has to be,” said Cumber, 39, of Bradenton.
Authorities have received numerous reported sighting of Musil-Buehler, but none were confirmed.
Digital Access For Only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
On the night they argued, Musil-Buehler left in her white 2000 Pontiac Sunfire convertible.
According to records, Musil-Buehler’s personal items and clothes were found packed in the trunk of the car.
Detectives found Musil-Buehler’s blood inside the car with pieces of the upholstery missing.
“I know they found blood in the car, but I can’t believe someone would do something like that to her. It’s beyond my comprehension,” Cumber said. “Maybe she got hurt and she was trying to defend herself. Maybe she got cut. I don’t know. I don’t like to think about it.”
Cumber said he thinks Musil-Buehler may have left the area, but could not explain why she would not contact anyone.
“I have no idea. Maybe she just wanted to be left alone,” he said.
On Nov. 6, deputies stopped a man driving Musil-Buehler’s car. Robert Corona, 38, is charged with stealing the car and remains in jail. He told deputies he found Musil Buehler’s car with the keys in it parked outside the Gator Lounge on 14th Street West.
Cumber, who has been hanging out about a block away from the Gator Lounge on 14th Street, said he was stopped by Bradenton Police Department officers Friday after someone called a tip into Crimestoppers.
The stress from Musil-Buehler’s disappearance and accusing stares people give him has made life difficult, Cumber said.
He has since left the island apartment he shared with Musil-Buehler.
He pawned a high definition television for $150 and is now staying in a transitional facility near Cortez Road.
He has no job and looks for work.
On Saturday, an unshaven Cumber sat at Manatee Public Beach at a picnic table staring at the water and spoke about Musil-Buehler. He occasionally rolled Bugler tobacco into unfiltered cigarettes.
“I’ve been in the judicial system since I was 15 years old. This is the most impact I’ve ever had. I think I’m handling it pretty well. I miss her,” he said.
Cumber remains on probation for an arson conviction in 2005.
He travels with a backpack. He has pictures of Musil-Buehler he keeps on CDs and has one picture of their trip to Busch Gardens.
“I’m slowly losing everything I have,” he said, noting his suitcase was taken after he stashed it somewhere. “I have my memories of her.”
Detectives with Manatee County Sheriff’s Office have interviewed Cumber several times about Musil-Buehler’s disappearance.
Cumber said detectives asked him where the body was.
“’They said, ‘You’re lying. You’re not showing any remorse,’” he said. “I didn’t know how to answer that.”
Manatee County Sheriff’s Office Brad Steube said interviews are still being conducted with Corona and Musil-Buehler’s separated husband, Tom Buehler.
“(Cumber’s) high on our list,” Steube said.
Cumber was convicted in 2005 of arson for burning down a girlfriend’s home in Bradenton.
On Nov. 16, a fire broke out at Haley’s Motel that destroyed a duplex there.
Buehler said Saturday he is working to rebuild the charred portion of the motel and turn it into a wedding house for couples. He believes Musil-Buehler is dead.
“I knew she was dead immediately. I knew that when they told me someone was driving her car. That would have never happened,” he said.
The motel fire has been ruled suspicious by authorities and Cumber is a person of interest in the case by Holmes Beach Police Department and state fire officials.
In the 2005 case, he confessed to detectives. This time, he said someone framed him.
“I have cooperated and done everything,” he said. “I’m telling the truth. I’m innocent. If I’m guilty, you’re going to get a confession out of me.”
Deputies have also started conducting random searches throughout the county, most likely between the apartment Musil-Buehler shared with Cumber and the Gator Lounge hoping to find her body.
“We’re just going out there hoping we get lucky,” Steube said.
A search on Tuesday found nothing near Cortez Village in marshes leading into Sarasota Bay.
Steube said more evidence is at the crime lab tied to Musil Buehler’s disappearance. He said he couldn’t divulge what the evidence consists of or where it was found.
In the meantime, Cumber said he plans to stay in the area.
“I have to stay here. This has to be resolved,” he said.
Anyone with any information about Musil-Buehler can contact Manatee County Sheriff’s Office Detective Rick Alvarado at 747-3011 ext. 2513.
Beth Burger, criminal justice reporter, can be reached at 708-7919.