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Date of Issue: March 11, 2009

Four months pass in missing woman case

Sabine Musil-Buehler, 49
William Cumber III appears in a courtroom in Bradenton Feb. 24 on a violation of probation charge. Islander Photo: Tiffany Tompkins-Condie/Bradenton Herald

Two cases, two defendants, but still authorities have two unsolved mysteries.

The disappearance of Islander Sabine Musil-Buehler, 49, and the arson fire at Haley’s Motel, which she co-owns with husband Tom Buehler, remain unsolved mysteries after four months.

Two men with ties to the Haley’s case are in the Manatee County jail awaiting hearings this month in courtrooms at the Manatee County Judicial Center in Bradenton.

Robert Corona, 38, is scheduled to go to trial the week of March 23 on a charge of grand theft auto.

Corona is accused of stealing Musil-Buehler’s car from a 14th Street bar sometime between late Nov. 4 and Nov. 6.

He was arrested early Nov. 6 after allegedly fleeing from a Manatee County Sheriff’s Office deputy attempting, at first, to make a routine traffic stop.

Corona initially told authorities he was given the key to the car, but later said he found the vehicle in a parking lot outside a 14th Street bar with the key in the ignition.

The car contained small amounts of Musil-Buehler’s blood in the front seat and some of her possessions in the trunk, according to the MCSO. Her cell phone and purse remain missing.

Initially authorities described Corona as a person of interest in the disappearance of Musil-Buehler, but later the MCSO indicated that investigators believe Corona never met her.

The Corona case is scheduled for a hearing on March 11 to determine whether the trial will take place this month.

Meanwhile, a defense and a prosecution are being prepared in advance of a violation of probation hearing for William Cumber III, 39, the boyfriend of Musil-Buehler and the last known person to see her.

Cumber was arrested in December 2008 during a traffic stop near Ocala. He was driving a pickup truckon a suspended license, and served 10 days on the charge in the Marion County jail in late December.

The incident resulted in a charge that Cumber, by leaving Manatee County and getting arrested on a new charge, violated the conditions of his probation for a felony arson conviction.

Cumber has been characterized as a person of interest in both Musil-Buehler’s disappearance, which is under investigation as a possible homicide, and the arson fire at Haley’s Motel on Nov. 16, 2008.

Cumber’s connection to the two unsolved cases led defense attorney Thomas Ostrander to question the severity of the sentence the state is seeking for the alleged violation of probation.

The state offered a deal of 15 years in prison if Cumber pleaded guilty to the charge, but plans to seek 30 years in prison if the case goes forward.

The violation of probation hearing is scheduled for March 17.