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Date of Issue: September 09, 2009

Request seeks to declare Musil-Buehler dead

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Musil-Buehler

A filing seeks to have a court declare missing motel owner Sabine Musil-Buehler dead.

The filing, by attorneys representing Tom Buehler, was posted at the courthouse in Bradenton Sept. 3.

Tom Buehler is the estranged husband of Musil-Buehler. The two separated but did not divorce and maintained a business partnership in Haley’s Motel in Holmes Beach.

On Nov. 6, 2008, Musil-Buehler was reported missing.

She has not been seen or heard from since that week in November.

The court filing seeks to have Musil-Buehler, whose 50th birthday passed in July, declared dead, leaving Buehler as her heir and the beneficiary of her life insurance.

Generally, under Florida law, a person missing for five years can be declared dead. But through the courts, a presumptive death certificate can be issued.

Authorities too have said they suspect Musil-Buehler is dead, and have long investigated her disappearance as a possible homicide, though no charges have been filed in the case.

The man authorities have identified as a person of interest in the disappearance, as well as the November 2008 arson at Haley’s Motel, was sent to prison for 13.5 years on an unrelated charge.

William Cumber, 39, pleaded guilty to violating the terms of his probation on a 2005 arson conviction.

In May, Cumber was sentenced to prison for that violation, with Circuit Court Judge Gilbert Smith saying, “This court is not involved in rehabilitation.… This is a court of punishment.”

Cumber had met Musil-Buehler prior to his conviction in the 2005 fire, and, by the time he left a St. Petersburg work release program and began serving probation, he had saved money to rent a house on Magnolia Avenue in Anna Maria to share with Musil-Buehler. At the time, she was living apart from Tom Buehler.

On Nov. 6, 2008, Tom Buehler reported Musil-Buehler missing after learning from law enforcement that a man, Robert Corona, was arrested fleeing from her car in Bradenton.

Corona, who has pleaded guilty to charges associated with the car theft, first told authorities he was in a bar on 14th Street West in Bradenton, where he was given the key to the car to go buy drugs. Later he told authorities he found the car behind The Gator Lounge on 14th Street with the key in the ignition.

Authorities found small amounts of Musil-Buehler’s blood along with some of her possessions in the car, and the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office began treating the disappearance as a possible homicide.

Cumber, who is appealing his sentence, has said he last saw Musil-Buehler on Nov. 4, when she left their rented home in Anna Maria after an argument about Cumber smoking a cigarette.

In court, in May, he told the judge that when she was reported missing, “Who do they want to decapitate over the situation? Me.”