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Date of Issue: February 11, 2009

Cumber probation hearing set

Sabine Musil-Buehler, 49

The investigations into the disappearance of Sabine Musil-Buehler, 49, and the fire at Haley’s Motel continue, now in their fourth month.

The discovery of a woman’s body on Feb. 5 near the Rye Wilderness Trail in east Manatee led some to wonder whether the mystery of Musil-Buehler’s whereabouts had been solved, but any speculation was rapidly quieted with the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office announcement that the body was that of a woman in her 20s or 30s who had died that day.

Meanwhile, a person-of-interest in both cases will appear in court Feb. 24 for a hearing on whether he violated the conditions of his probation on an unrelated arson conviction.

William Cumber III, 39, has been in jail since late December, when he was arrested outside Manatee County for driving without a valid license, which resulted in a violation of his probation according to the Florida Department of Corrections.

Cumber is Musil-Buehler’s boyfriend and the last person known to have seen her. Late Nov. 4, 2008, Musil-Buehler and Cumber argued at the Anna Maria house she had rented. Cumber said she left in her car, which was found in Bradenton following a police chase. A man was arrested fleeing from the vehicle and is charged with grand theft auto, but authorities have said he is not a person of interest in Musil-Buehler’s disappearance.

Less than two weeks after Musil-Buehler disappeared, on Nov. 16, fire destroyed a building at the Haley’s Motel complex, which Musil-Buehler co-owns with her husband, Tom, with whom she is separated.

Investigators have called Musil-Buehler’s disappearance a possible homicide and the fire “suspicious.” The fire officially has not been ruled arson by the Holmes Beach Police Department, but sources have said it was intentionally set.

Cumber, in the days after the fire, told reporters he felt someone was trying to frame him.

He was convicted of arson after setting fire to a girlfriend’s residence and was released from prison last September.

The state alleges that Cumber violated the rules of his probation on the arson conviction when he was arrested Dec. 23 for driving on a suspended license in Marion County.

Cumber’s hearing is scheduled for 9 a.m. Feb. 24 before Judge Gilbert Smith Jr. at the Manatee County Judicial Center in Bradenton.