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Date of Issue: February 05, 2009

Cumber gets new attorney

Sabine Musil-Buehler

William Cumber III, the last known person to see Sabine Musil-Buehler before she disappeared Nov. 4, was assigned a new attorney to defend him against an alleged probation violation.

Cumber, 39, had been assigned a public defender in the case, which is not directly linked to the disappearance of Musil-Buehler, 49, or the fire on Nov. 16, 2008, at Haley’s Motel. Musil-Buehler co-owns the Holmes Beach motel with her husband, Tom Buehler.

Last week, a judge at the Manatee County Judicial Center approved a motion from the public defender to withdraw and assigned the case to Regional Counsel Michael Paul Reiter’s office.

Reiter said the new attorney on the case is Tom Ostrander.

The assigned public defender filed a motion to withdraw because of “personal knowledge of this case,” according to court documents.

Cumber was arrested in late December in Marion County for driving on a suspended license.

The Florida Department of Corrections maintains that Cumber violated his probation on a 2005 arson conviction by leaving Manatee County without notifying or securing permission from his probation officer and by getting arrested.

In the 2005 case, Cumber was arrested for setting fire to a girlfriend’s home. An arrest warrant quoted Bradenton Police Detective James Curulla as saying that the fire consumed a home. Four adults and two inside escaped without injury.

Curulla said Cumber stated that “after a verbal argument with the female tenant, he returned to the residence by crawling through an opening in the patio screen. He then lit a chair on fire with a lighter. He stated he did not have the intent to burn down the house, but wanted to leave a message since he felt scorned.”

Cumber has told The Islander that he set fire to the lanai because the home was the site of a meth lab.

After pleading guilty, he was sentenced to 42 months in prison and three years probation, and ordered to make restitution.

On the probation charge, Cumber was scheduled for arraignment Jan. 30, but prior to the hearing filed a statement denying he violated probation regulations, waiving formal arraignment and seeking a speedy hearing.

Cumber has been described as a person of interest by investigators working on Musil-Buehler’s disappearance and the review of the motel fire.

He is Musil-Buehler’s boyfriend and is the last person known to have seen her. The two were at the home she rented on Magnolia Avenue in Anna Maria on Nov. 4 when they had an argument, according to Cumber.

Cumber said she left in her car, which Manatee County Sheriff’s Office deputies found early Nov. 6 in Bradenton after a car chase. Musil-Buehler’s blood was found in the front seat and some of her belongings were found in the trunk.

The man arrested fleeing from the car, Robert Corona, 38, is in jail awaiting trial on a charge of grand-theft auto. Corona initially said he was given the key to the car but later told the MCSO he found the car, with the key in the ignition, behind the Gator Lounge on 14th Street West in Bradenton.

The MCSO has said Corona is not a person of interest in Musil-Buehler’s disappearance.

Last week, through inmate mail, Corona filed a motion to dismiss his public defender, Patrick Kane, and his public defender filed a motion asking the court to dismiss the case for lack of jurisdiction.

At Islander press time, neither motion had been heard.

Meanwhile, authorities investigating the fire, deemed suspicious and “intentionally set” according to sources, and Musil-Buehler’s disappearance, deemed a possible homicide, continue to await lab results.


Rewards offered

Manatee County’s Gold Star Club is offering up to $5,000 for information leading to the whereabouts of Sabine Musil-Buehler or information leading to the person or persons responsible for her disappearance.

Also, the Sabine Buehler Benefit Fund is accepting donations at Whitney Bank, 5324 Gulf Drive, Holmes Beach. Money raised also will go toward a reward for information.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office at 941-747-3011, ext. 2519, or Crime Stoppers at 866-634-TIPS.