Manatee County Sheriff’s Office Detective John Kenney, left, and MCSO Deputy Ralph Randall dig on the property at the south end of South Bay Boulevard in Anna Maria. They were searching for the remains of Sabine Musil-Buehler. Islander Photo: Rick Catlin
Jack Fiske, owner of the property at the south end of South Bay Boulevard, Anna Maria, is happy. He got his land cleared of debris, dead trees and invasive plant species courtesy of the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office.
Anna Maria code enforcement officer Gerry Rathvon is happy. She won’t have to pester Fiske to clean up his property anytime soon.
Even the boaters who rent slip space from Fiske are happy. They no longer have to maneuver through dense plants and bushes to reach their boats.
But John Kenney, a Manatee County Sheriff’s Office homicide detective, is not happy.
Kenney, MCSO deputies and cadaver-searching K-9 dogs spent nearly a week in mid-May searching the Fiske property for the body of Sabine Musil-Buehler, missing since Nov. 4, 2008.
It’s been nearly six years of frustration for Kenney, since he was the sergeant in charge of the MCSO-Anna Maria substation when Musil-Buehler was reported missing Nov. 6, 2008.
“I was on patrol that day and the first officer to arrive at her apartment,” Kenney recalled.
Musil-Buehler, at that time estranged from husband Tom Buehler, was living in Anna Maria with a boyfriend, William J. Cumber. Although she was still co-owner with her husband of Haley’s Motel in Holmes Beach.
Kenney was involved in the initial investigation into her disappearance.
On leaving his duties in Anna Maria, Kenney was assigned to the MCSO homicide bureau and was “right back in the investigation,” he said.
Several years ago, the Rev. Ed Moss was clearing brush on the beachfront at his Willow Avenue home in Anna Maria when he discovered Musil-Buehler’s purse and some other personal items.
Kenney and the MCSO search team dug up large areas along the beach near that site. They spent more than a week searching the area and also used cadaver dogs, but without success.
“But we didn’t give up then,” Kenney said.
In October 2012, Kenney and another detective traveled to the Port Charlotte Correctional Facility and arrested Cumber for Musil-Buehler’s murder. He was in the correctional facility for violation of parole on an unrelated conviction.
Cumber was taken to the Manatee County jail and is charged with second-degree murder. He entered a plea of not guilty and his trial is planned for October.
“There is a lot of evidence, but I really want to find her body. Six years I’ve been on this case and it bugs me. But we got some leads from the newspaper story about the Fiske property search,” Kenney said. “We’ll never give up looking.”
Kenney said the search of Fiske’s property came after examination of cellphone records, but he declined to elaborate.
“We’re still investigating. This is an open case,” he said. “We’re not stopping, and we’re still asking the public to call us if they saw anything suspicious that night of Nov. 4.” Kenney said it may be an easy date to remember for people, because it was election night across the country and Barack Obama won the presidency.
Kenney asked anyone with information about Musil-Buehler’s disappearance, or who saw any suspicious activity Nov. 4-5, 2008, to call him at 941-747-3011, ext. 2216. Calls can be made anonymously, he said.