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Date of Issue: June 03, 2009

Cumber transferred from county jail

William J. Cumber

William J. Cumber was transferred May 28 from the Manatee County jail to the Florida Department of Corrections reception center in Miami.

Cumber, 39, eventually will be transferred from the Miami facility to another state prison, where he will serve 13.5 years.

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

In late December 2008, Cumber 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, he faced a charge in Manatee County of violating his probation because he left the county without permission from his probation officer and by committing 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.

During the sentencing hearing, Cumber said he was rebuilding his life last fall, when a series of events — illness, Musil-Buehler’s disappearance, the Haley’s fire, media publicity and public suspicion about his involvement — led to his loss of work and housing, despair and a desire to leave the area.

“I wasn’t able to put up with anything.… I was just running because I had no future.… Bradenton was dead to me,” Cumber told the judge.

Cumber’s attorney alleged that the prosecution sought a stiff sentence for the probation violation because of Cumber’s relationship with Musil-Buehler and law enforcement’s interest in his knowledge of her whereabouts.

Musil-Buehler 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.

Cumber has until mid-June to appeal his sentence in the probation case.

In the meantime, he likely will remain at the reception center in Miami. Inmates usually spend about a month in a reception center before moving to a more permanent facility.

At the center, workers will assess everything from Cumber’s health to education level to past incarceration and determine where he will be placed, according to DOC public affairs officer Gretl Plessinger.