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Date of Issue: June 10, 2009

Cumber appealing prison sentence

William J. Cumber, 39

William J. Cumber is appealing a 13.5-year prison sentence imposed after he pleaded guilty to violating his probation on a felony arson charge.

Cumber, 39, whose last address was on Magnolia Avenue in Anna Maria, was sentenced to prison May 14 after pleading guilty to violating probation on a 2005 arson conviction that stemmed from a house fire in Bradenton.

In late December 2008, he was arrested for driving on a suspended license in Marion County. After pleading guilty to the traffic offense and serving 10 days in the Marion County Jail, Cumber faced a charge in Manatee County of violating his probation because he left the county without permission from his probation officer and committed a new offense.

Cumber is the only person publicly identified by authorities as a person of interest in the November 2008 disappearance of his girlfriend, Sabine Musil-Buehler, and the November 2008 arson fire at her business, Haley’s Motel in Holmes Beach.

His attorney, Tom Ostrander, has maintained that Cumber’s relationship with Musil-Buehler and authorities’ interest in what, if anything, he knows about her whereabouts, resulted in the stiff sentence for the probation violation.

The motel owner was reported missing Nov. 6, 2008, after her car was found in Bradenton containing blood.

Her last confirmed whereabouts were on Nov. 4, 2008, when she argued with Cumber and, according to him, left their rented home in Anna Maria in her car.

Recently Cumber signed and filed a number of court papers related to his case, including a request that the sentencing on May 14 be reviewed, a notice of appeal to the Second District Court of Appeals, a demand to transfer all documents in the case to the appeals court and a motion to compel the state to produce any evidence favorable to the defendant.