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Stuntman Held in 1991 Kidnap, Slaying

TIMES STAFF WRITER

A Tarzana film stuntman has been arrested by FBI agents in the kidnap and murder of a wealthy accountant in England, it was disclosed Tuesday.

Nevile Vandermerwe, 28, was taken into custody without incident Monday night as he was about to enter a Woodland Hills gym.

Sought by British authorities for the last two years, the muscular South African is being held without bail pending an extradition hearing. Vandermerwe and another man, now dead, were charged with abducting and killing Simon Law, who was involved in a bitter business dispute with another South African, according to the warrant.

Law’s body was never recovered. He was reported missing on April 22, 1991, after he failed to appear for choir practice at his church in the rural community of Elmsted, England.

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British investigators said that at the time of his disappearance, Law and his South African business partner, David Jenkins, were embroiled in a bitter dispute over three companies they owned.

The companies were being investigated by South African authorities for alleged currency manipulations, and Jenkins blamed Law for the problems, according to the warrant. Jenkins has not been charged in Law’s disappearance and apparent slaying.

Following an exhaustive investigation, however, police said they learned that two strangers from South Africa had arrived in Elmsted about the time Law disappeared. They identified one as Vandermerwe and the other as Glen Chait.

The pair borrowed a red Vauxhall Astra car from South African friends living in London. Several Elmsted residents later told police that two men in a similar car stopped and asked for directions to Law’s home.

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When police tracked down the car, they found dried blood in the trunk. They said DNA tests determined it was 1.5 million times more likely that the blood came from Law than from any random person.

Vandermerwe and Chait flew out of England on April 24, 1991, two days after Law was last seen alive.

When Vandermerwe returned to South Africa, police said, he was distraught and told his father, “Someone’s gone missing, and I am going to get the blame for it and I’ve got no alibi.” He told his father he had to leave the country.

Using another name, Vandermerwe flew to New York on May 7, 1991, and made his way to Los Angeles. He worked as a stuntman and eventually married, settling in Tarzana.

In January, he applied for resident alien status with the Immigration and Naturalization Service under the name of Fernando Manuel Boaventura. But in March, he legally changed his name to Graham Manuel Miller.

Chait was arrested by South African police in 1997 for Law’s kidnap and murder, but shortly before he was to be extradited to England, he was found dead in his prison cell, an apparent suicide.


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