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Date of Issue: February 10, 2010

Search for body draws tourists

The curious gather Feb. 4 on the beach in Anna Maria just south of the Sandbar Restaurant to watch a Manatee County Sheriff’s Office team move sand. The MCSO searched the beach last week for evidence in the disappearance of Sabine Musil-Buehler. Islander Photo: Lisa Neff

“Is this where they’re digging for the body?” asked Marlene Holcomb, who took a day-trip from Lakeland to Anna Maria Island Feb. 4.

Holcomb went to the beach in Anna Maria, not to sunbathe, fish or swim, but because she wanted to watch a team from the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office dig into the sand in the search for the remains of Sabine Musil-Buehler.

The curious arrived one by one, and in pairs and in larger groups to watch the digging, which began Feb. 2 and continued through the week.

MCSO detectives on the scene said the excavation work will continue until they find what they are looking for, a body, or conclude that the beach can yield no clues to the whereabouts of Musil-Buehler.

The woman, co-owner of Haley’s Motel in Holmes Beach, was last seen in November 2008. Her boyfriend, William Cumber, provided authorities with her last known whereabouts. He said they argued in their rented apartment on Magnolia Avenue on Nov. 4, 2008, and that Musil-Buehler left in her car.

MCSO officials suspect foul play and have long been investigating the case as a homicide.

On Feb. 4, three blocks from where Musil-Buehler and Cumber lived and after two days of media reports on the search, small crowds gathered.

Onlookers called friends and family on cell phones, sent text messages and photographs and shared suspicions.

“It’s unpleasant, but it’s so exciting,” said Dana Taylor of Indianapolis. “Wait till I tell my husband. He’ll be here in a flash.”

She pulled a phone from her purse and punched a button to call her husband, who was sunning at a pool at a Bradenton Beach resort.

Nearby Taylor, several women halted a bicycle ride to watch.

“Oh my, how gruesome,” said Yvette Entement of Davenport, Iowa. “Can you tell me what happened? Do you know who did it? Are they looking for bones?”

Entement and her friends speculated about the condition of a body buried deep in sand, as well as about suspects.

“Lordy, lordy, lordy,” said Patti Merriweather. “This is a tourist attraction.”

She and husband Danny discussed whether to stay and watch or go to lunch.

“Let’s go to lunch when they go to lunch,” Patti suggested, referring to the half-dozen detectives and forensics experts and two tractor drivers working on the beach.