William Cumber confesses to killing hotel owner on tape

Image 1 of 2

Seven years after he killed his girlfriend, William Cumber led detectives to the spot on Anna Maria Island where he buried her.

Before leading them down the path this week, he gave them a recorded confession, revealing how he killed Sabine Musil-Buehler.         

"I lose control. I hit her in the head with my fist... I reached and grabbed her throat and started choking her out ... until she wasn't moving.”

That's how life ended for Sabine Musil-Buehler, the Holmes Beach motel owner, who disappeared 7 years ago.

Her ex-boyfriend, William Cumber led detectives to her remains last week -- after confessing to her murder.  In a 40 minute recording of his confession, Cumber recounts every chilling detail in a mostly calm voice.        

Cumber says it started the night of November 4, 2008.  He was watching election results in the bedroom. She was watching something else in the living room. He was drinking beer. She was having wine.  At some point he went outside to smoke a cigarette. She didn't approve.          

"She encountered me. She smelled the smoke. We got in a little dispute about it,” Cumber told detectives.  That dispute erupted into an argument over their relationship. “She said she couldn't do with this relationship anymore because of certain issues. She said it was getting stressful." She blamed the smoking, and his drinking, Cumber told detectives.       

When she told him she wanted to end the relationship, Cumber snapped. That's when he struck her with his fists, then choked her to death.

"What did you do at that point", the detective asked. "I decided I didn't want to go back to prison,” he told them. "I went and got a sheet off the bed, I rolled her up in it.”          

He told investigators he dragged her body to her car around midnight and drove to a spot near the beach where he buried her in a four foot grave, he dug with a shovel.

"I did think it was the most unexpected spot to find her,” he told detectives. 

It worked for nearly 7 years, until Cumber finally confessed and then led them to the grave site, where human remains were found Friday morning.

Over the years, detectives have searched for Musil-Beuhler's body at two other dig sites on Anna Maria Island. They found clues, but no remains.  The site they dug up last week had never been searched before.               

Cumber's cooperation comes just two weeks before he would have gone to trial where he faced life in prison if convicted.  The deal he worked out with prosecutors puts him away for 20 years.

For the state, it means being spared an expensive murder trial with an uncertain outcome, since proving murder can be difficult without a body. For her family and friends, it means answers - how ever awful they are -to questions that have haunted this beach community for seven long years.