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Killing of Spouse Puts an End to Man's Double Life : * Crime: A former Granada Hills resident is in jail in Florida on murder charge. Wife says he claimed to work for the CIA and married again without divorcing her.

September 29, 1991|MICHAEL CONNELLY | TIMES STAFF WRITER

In his Granada Hills office, David Russell Miller surrounded himself with reminders of the things that meant the most to him.

A fixture at civic and business functions across the San Fernando Valley, the former Chamber of Commerce president covered a wall in his office with the photos of the important people he knew and had met. There was the governor, local assemblymen, international figures such as Oliver North, even Desmond Tutu.

But there was no photo of his wife, Dorothy. None of her two young children. Indeed, most of the people who knew Miller--including those who worked with him for years--say they did not know he was even married.

Neither did saleswoman Jayne Marie Maghy when she met him on a plane in January. And after a six-week romance that included limousine rides and meals at expensive restaurants, she married him in Las Vegas. But soon after the glow of her whirlwind courtship dimmed, the new Mrs. Miller became suspicious of her husband's business and personal dealings.

With the help of a private detective she stumbled on to the other Mrs. Miller and on Sept. 15 confronted her husband.

It was a confrontation that cost her her life, police say. Jayne Miller was shot to death in the Central Florida town where the couple had moved earlier this year. David Miller, 41, is being held in a Sanford, Fla., jail without bail on a charge of murder.

The killing has sent a wave of astonishment across the Valley and served to pull back the veil that shielded David Miller's secret life.

Many who thought they knew him now count themselves as victims of a con man. Some wonder if the violent end to David Miller's double life could have been averted if they had voiced suspicions they had early on.

Dorothy Miller said she met David Miller in Granada Hills in 1979. The recently divorced owner of a hair salon was raising two young boys and after she met Miller in an attorney's office, a romance began.

Dorothy Miller said her future husband told her that he had been divorced once and had just moved to the Valley from the Washington area where he had held government jobs, including being an aide in the Nixon Administration. He was raised in Sardis, Ohio, and wore an Ohio University ring. University officials last week confirmed that he attended the school but refused to reveal other information until Miller cleared up financial obligations to the school.

Within six months, the couple moved in together and later bought a house on Aldea Avenue in Granada Hills. They weren't formally married until Aug. 11, 1985, when they drove to Las Vegas and were wed in a roadside chapel. Dorothy Miller still has the marriage license. She says there was never any divorce.

As a Valley-based lobbyist, David Miller initially specialized in representing the printing industry on state legislative issues. In 1987, his reputation as a lobbyist landed him a job as a legislative aide to Assemblyman Tom McClintock (R-Thousand Oaks), but McClintock said he fired Miller after six months because of unexplained absences and poor performance. Miller then opened an office called David Miller & Associates in the same building that housed the Granada Hills Chamber of Commerce.

His firm expanded to include developers as clients, and civic activities had him involved in chamber functions. He served a term as president of the chamber and then as president of the United Chambers of Commerce, an umbrella organization for 20 Valley chambers.

Those who know Miller described him as a name-dropper who drove a Jaguar and stayed at first-class hotels while traveling. He took clients and business acquaintances out for pricey meals and picked up the tabs. Some said Miller told them he was an attorney, though there is no record of him as a member of the California Bar.

"He was so good at stories," said a businesswoman who knew Miller for years but who didn't want to be identified. "They would get long and complicated. He could tell wonderful stories, but there was always the feeling that that's what they were, stories."

It was unclear why Miller kept his wife away from his business and social interests. Dorothy Miller said that the story her husband told her was that the life he led in California was a front.

His real work, he said, was for the CIA.

"From the day I met him, he always told me CIA stories," she said in a recent interview from Belle Vernon, Pa., where she now lives. "He told me it was free-lance work. He was always involved in international incidents. Whatever was in the news."

Though admittedly embarrassed now, Dorothy Miller said she believed her husband. And there was some evidence that he was traveling abroad. He often brought back souvenirs from foreign countries and there were calls home that were put through by Spanish-speaking operators.

Sometimes, he told her of international events that she saw on the news. Sometimes, he told her of events that never hit the news--like the time he came home with a cut leg and said he had been grazed by a bullet.

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