Crime

Cumber sentenced to 13 1/2 years for probation violation

BRADENTON — The former boyfriend of missing motel owner Sabine Musil-Buehler, who was named the person of interest in her disappearance, was sentenced to 13 1/2 years in prison today for violating probation on an arson conviction.

William Cumber had pleaded guilty last month to violating probation by driving with a suspended license. The traffic arrest was made in December by Marion County authorities outside Ocala. The maximum sentence for violating probation is 30 years in prison.

Assistant State Attorney Tony Casoria had recommended to the judge that Cumber be sentenced to 15 years.

Cumber’s attorney, Thomas Ostrander, had asked the judge to place his client back on probation without prison time.

Cumber is the last person to have reported seeing Musil-Buehler alive. Musil-Buehler, 49, coowner with her estranged husband of Haley’s Motel on Holmes Beach, has not been seen since Nov. 4.

In court this morning, Cumber denied any involvement in her disappearance.

“We get in an argument and she takes off. . . I can’t help that she left the house,” Cumber said. “I lost my business, my apartment, then the Haley’s Motel catches fire. I was somewhere else when this fire started.”

He said the police have called his alibi weak, but Ostrander reminded the judge his client has not been arrested in connection with Musil-Buehler’s disappearance and said he should only be sentenced to the probation violation.

Cumber served 42 months in prison for setting fire to a chair on a woman’s porch with six people inside the house including two children. He said he felt scorned because she had asked him to leave the house.

Police believe there is foul play involved in the disappearance of Musil-Buehler after blood was found in her car two weeks after she was reported missing and a duplex at Haley’s Motel went up in flames.

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