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12.10.05 48 Hours - Love Lies Murder ?  

48 Hours Mystery
CBS Dec 10 10:00pm
Series/Talk, 60 Mins.


"The Mystery of Janet March"
A mother vanishes, her parents are targeted for death and her husband and children fear for their lives.


Original Airdate: December 10, 2005




Janet  - Bags back deck

Perry March

Arthur March

Law School


I'm Levine - so she Marched out ?



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21:00 - document - soft water ? list on computer hard drive missing from computer Larry Levine or Arthur
22:00 - tires - new replaced on Jeep  - black Camry ? possibly Maxima at tire shop
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31:00 - Carmen Rojas
32:00 - 12.26.94 video
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55:00 - oriental rug rolled up 210 CSI N - Jamalot 11.30.05 - carpet rolled body - UV ink
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57:00 - Paid to murder - 12.09.05 CTH - Meth Murders
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Love, Lies, Murder?

(Page 1 of 7)

Dec. 9, 2005
Janet March (CBS)

Aired 12.10.05

(CBS) Janet Levine March had a seemingly-perfect life at the time she disappeared in August 1996. Married to a successful lawyer, this mother of two had a flourishing art career and lived in a dream home she had designed and built.

48 Hours has been following this case for years, first airing an episode in 2001. Now, nine years later, correspondent Bill Lagattuta reports, police made a surprising arrest.


Arthur March and his son Perry are two Americans who have escaped to the central Mexican town of Ajijic. Years ago, Arthur March became one of hundreds of American retirees who settled in the little lakeside town.

But his son Perry was a successful Nashville attorney in the prime of his career. Why did he come down to Ajijic?

“I brought Perry down here because he didn’t have any other place to go,” says Arthur March.

On a summer night in 1996, Perry March’s wife Janet Levine March mysteriously disappeared without a trace, and ever since, Perry March says he has become a target too, pursued by people he says are determined to destroy him.

“About a month and half ago there was an effort afoot to either have me killed, or have me arrested, to plant something like cocaine in my car,” says Perry.

And, he says, these same people are trying to kidnap his two children, Sammy and Tzipi.

Janet’s disappearance still mystifies her family and close friends.

Her father, Larry Levine, says Janet’s plans included kids. “Marriage, a family, a home, an art career,” her mother Carolyn adds. The Levines had proudly watched their daughter fulfill those plans, one by one.

Janet returned to Nashville with her college boyfriend, Perry March, in 1985. They married in 1987 and lived in a house just a few miles from her parents.

“I cared about him a lot, an awful lot,” Carolyn Levine now says about Perry. She became almost a surrogate mother to Perry; his own mother had died in an accident when he was only nine years old.

“Janet loved him and as long as she did, then we wanted to do everything we could to help him,” Larry Levine recalls.

And Janet’s parents did help him. Larry Levine paid Perry’s way through Vanderbilt law school in Nashville. Then Perry began practicing law and ended up working in his father-in-law’s firm.

“He treated me as a confidant and as a son,” says Perry.

Meanwhile, Janet pursued her art. “She had done some really fine work, sold some paintings, and had been hired to do some commercial illustrations,” says Perry.

Three years after they married, Sammy was born. Then, four years later, Janet gave birth to their daughter Tzipora, known as Tzipi.

And in 1995, Perry says Janet fulfilled yet another of her dreams, building a spectacular home she had designed. “This was her dream home,” he says.

On the surface, Janet had it all: a dream house, two beautiful children, an art career, and a successful husband. But something must have gone terribly wrong, because around 8 p.m. on Aug. 15, 1996, Perry March says she just walked out.

On that warm summer night, Perry says his wife packed some bags, walked out the door and drove off.

March says Janet never told him where she was going, and says when he asked her, she said, “None of your business, I’ll see you in a couple days, see how it is with the kids.”

Since that night, no one has ever reported seeing Janet March again.



Love, Lies, Murder?
(Page 2 of 7)

Dec. 9, 2005
Janet March (CBS)

Perry March says the evening started with a relatively normal family dinner. It was after he put their two children to bed, Perry says, that he and Janet began to argue.

“You know, it’s the kind of argument that you have when you’re both tired of the arguments. She had made a decision that she was going to take a vacation,” he recalls.

His wife was going away, Perry says, for 12 days, and was to come back just in time for their son Sammy’s sixth birthday on August 27.

“She had prepared a list for me of a lot of things that needed to be done. Change the light bulbs, balance my checkbook, clean the basement, you know, just a various list of things that I had seemed to have dropped the ball on in the course of my ten years with her,” he remembers. “And she made me sign her list, that I would have these things done when she got back and she said, ‘See ya,’ and the door turned and she started her Volvo and she drove off.”

No one else, not even Janet’s parents, knew she was going away.

Carolyn Levine says Perry called at midnight on August 15 to tell them Janet had left.

“I said ‘Perry, Don’t worry about it, I’m sure if you had an argument she’s upset, she’s probably driving around to cool off, she’ll be back. Call me when she comes home,’” Levine remembers.

But Janet didn’t come back in the morning and Carolyn Levine says she began to worry about her daughter.

Perry says he thought his wife might be luxuriating at a hotel, and that her disappearance was a “stunt” to make him understand what life as a young mother was like.

Perry says he became worried after the third or fourth day. “Because I knew what she had taken with her, and I knew it wasn’t the amount of things that she needed for an extended period of time.”

When Janet didn’t call home, her husband and her parents started looking for her. They called her friends. They went to the airport parking lot and looked for her car in the parking lot. They called hotels in Nashville and out of state. What they didn’t do, oddly enough, is call the police.

Perry says he didn’t call police because he says the Levines forbade him to call the authorities. “They were very concerned that if we reported something to the authorities it would end up embarrassing Janet, and that would make my situation with her worse,” he says.

But the Levines say it was Perry who didn’t want to call the police. “Perry insisted he didn’t want to go to the police, he wanted to see a private investigator,” says Larry Levine.

Perry calls that an “outright lie.”

You can believe Janet’s husband or not, but the fact is that the family waited a full two weeks before Perry and his father-in-law walked into a police station in Nashville and reported that Janet was missing.

Why did it take two weeks?

“Well, that’s my mistake. That’s my mistake. Because I was living with these people, I loved these people,” Perry says.

And Larry Levine also says they made a mistake. “But Perry kept telling us maybe she went here, maybe she went there.”

“He told us a story. And unfortunately I believed him,” Carolyn Levine adds.


Love, Lies, Murder?
(Page 3 of 7)

Dec. 9, 2005
Janet March (CBS)

At first, this was just another missing person case to Nashville Detective Mickey Miller.

“The first thing we did is start checking credit card accounts and things of that nature,” says Miller. But Janet had not left a paper trail.

Already worried, Janet’s friends knew something was very wrong when Janet wasn’t there for Sammy’s sixth birthday party.

“At that point, I knew that Janet was dead,” one of Janet’s friends told 48 Hours, “Because she would never, ever not come to her son’s party.”

Then just a week into their investigation, police found Janet’s car parked in the lot of an apartment complex just a few miles from the March house.

“We found a lot of her personal effects, including her passport,” says Detective Miller.

Three weeks after Janet disappeared, with no credit card use, no phone calls home to check on the kids, and her car found with most of her belongings still packed inside, police decided this was no longer just a missing person case. It was a homicide.

“This morning the Levine family and their friends posted a $25,000 reward for information leading to the location of Mrs. March or her body,” police announced at the time.

And the prime suspect in the case was Perry March.

Perry refused police requests to interview him or his children. When he also refused to allow his house to be searched, police got a warrant.

One month after the disappearance, police went inch-by-inch through the house.

“We vacuumed all the floors. We collected the vacuum bags out of the vacuums that belonged here, we even processed these hardwood floors for fingerprints and palm prints,” recalls Nashville Crime Scene Investigator Johnnie Hunter.

Investigators searched nearby woods, two lakes and a river, yet found no trace of Janet and no evidence that a crime had even been committed.

“They couldn’t find some other reason to explain Janet’s being missing. They couldn’t find anything. And therefore it must be me!” says Perry.

But there was one thing about the search that really bothered police and still does -- not what they found but what they didn’t find.

Perry had told police that a list Janet had given him the night she left had been created on their home computer. That list was practically the only piece of evidence that backed up his story.

But police didn’t believe him. In fact, they wanted to get their hands on the computer’s hard drive, because they believed it might show that Perry, not Janet, had written the list. The problem was that the hard drive was missing.

Perry says he did not remove the hard drive. Asked who he thinks removed it, Perry says, “Well, there’s two people that are high on my list who could have removed it. One of them is Larry Levine, and the other is my father.”

Perry’s father, Arthur March, had come to stay at Perry’s house several days after Janet disappeared. But he says he doesn’t even know what a hard drive is.

And Larry Levine also said he did not remove the hard drive. “I had nothing to gain by trying to get at it,” he says.

Meanwhile, police became concerned about something else they didn’t find -- the tires on Perry’s car. Six days after Janet disappeared, Perry replaced the tires with new ones.

“It was on my list! The tires on the Jeep were bald. And she was worried the Jeep was going to be slipping in the rain and all this other kind of stuff and I was just knocking off the stuff on my list,” says Perry.

But according to Detective Miller, the tire company says that the tires did not need to be changed. “In fact they questioned that, why the tires were being changed, and Perry said he just didn’t like the type tires that were on the car at the time and he wanted a different brand.”

Yet even as investigators became convinced that he was involved in his wife’s disappearance, they couldn’t come up with the evidence to charge Perry March with a crime.


Love, Lies, Murder?
(Page 4 of 7)

Dec. 9, 2005
Janet March (CBS)

When their daughter first disappeared, the Levines struggled to make sense of their son-in-law’s account that, after an argument, she packed her bags and left on a 12-day vacation.

One thing that troubled Carolyn was the appointment her daughter had talked about the day she disappeared. “She asked me to go with her the next day to see a divorce lawyer,” says Carolyn.

When Perry was named as a suspect and stopped cooperating with police, the Levines’ suspicions grew.

Larry Levine says he his 100 percent certain Perry killed Janet. “Unconditionally positive,” he says.

The Levines made their first move the day Perry was named as a suspect. They filed a court action to stop him from taking Sammy and Tzipi out of town. But that very day, Perry moved with his children to Chicago.

The Levines then went to a Chicago court to file for visitation rights with their grandchildren.

After a two-year legal battle, a Chicago court granted the Levines weekend visitation rights. But when they showed up in a courtroom in the spring of 1999 to finalize the agreement, Perry wasn’t there. He had moved to Mexico.

“I moved to Mexico because I needed to get the hell out of Dodge and start a new life, and get out of their clutches,” says Perry.

Perry and his two children settled into a new life in Ajijic, the Mexican town his father Arthur had retired to years earlier. Arthur March helped his son get started on a new career as a financial and real estate advisor.

Perry and his children moved into a house, along with Carmen Rojas, who he met during his first week in Mexico, and her three children. They married within a year.

His old life in Nashville was a chapter Perry was now more than ready to close. As for what happened to his first wife, Janet, Carmen Rojas says she doesn’t know what happened or why she went away.

“I’ve told the children the truth: That Mommy left home, we don’t know what happened to her, it’s very sad, but that’s the truth,” says Perry.

The truth for the Levines was also very sad, but totally different. Two months after Perry fled with their grandchildren to Mexico, Janet’s parents filed a wrongful death claim against their former son-in-law in a Nashville civil court. When Perry failed to show up in court to fight the charge, Judge Frank Clement ruled against him and found him “wrongfully responsible for causing her death.”

For the Levines, it was a vindication. But Perry says he thinks it’s a crock. “I think it’s unconstitutional,” he says.


Love, Lies, Murder?
(Page 5 of 7)

Dec. 9, 2005
Janet March (CBS)

After a year in Mexico, there was no question for Sammy March, then age nine, and his sister Tzipi, six at the time, that this was their home with their dad, Perry and their new mom, Carmen.

But 1,500 miles away, the Levines desperately wanted to see their grandchildren.

Since the Levines’ action against him for the wrongful death of their daughter, Perry had refused to let them have contact with the children. So in May 2000, the Levines showed up at their son-in-law’s front door, armed with legal papers from the United States, granting them visitation and demanding to see their grandchildren.

Perry refused to let the Levines visit Sammy and Tzipi, and the grandparents went back to Nashville.

But then a month later came a day Perry says he’ll never forget. It was just after 9 a.m., and Sammy and Tzipi were just starting their school day.

Perry was in his office. “Four Mexicans walk in. One of them with a badge and a uniform says he’s from Immigration and I’m to come with him immediately,” he recalls. “They grabbed me under the arms and put me in a headlock, lifted me by my ears, lifted me off my feet and shoved me through my conference room doors. And all I get is ‘Your paperwork is not in order, you’re coming with us.’ I get down the stairs and there’s an unmarked old white van in the parking lot. The door opens and they throw me in. These guys grab me in the car, hold me down, and the van takes off.”

At that very moment, a convoy of cars was approaching the entrance to Sammy and Tzipi’s school. Inside the cars were a local lawyer, a Mexican judge, several Mexican policemen, and the Levines.

This time, the Levines got Mexican authorities to help them execute their court-ordered visitation. And Perry was in no position to try and stop them.

What did he think was going on?

“I think my kids are being grabbed. Which is exactly what was occurring,” says Perry.

But word of what was happening at the school immediately got to Arthur March.

“This was the second time they came to kidnap my grandchildren!” he says. Arthur March raced to the school and says he told Larry Levine “to get his ass out of there and leave my kids alone.”

Larry Levine claims Arthur March threatened him, allegedly telling him that neither he or his wife would get out of Mexico alive.

Asked if he ever pulled a gun on the Levines or anyone working for them, Arthur March responds with shrugs and a smile.

Back in the speeding van, Perry realized his armed captors were taking him to the airport. He decided to take a gamble: he dropped the name of the immigration official he suspected his captors were working for.

“The chief of the van got out and got on a cell phone. Three minutes of conversation, he gets back into the van, turns around to me and says ‘It’s a terrible mistake, I’m sorry, your paperwork is in order,’” Perry recalls.

When he was finally released, Perry sped off toward the school. “I was so angry I probably could have killed someone at that time,” he says.

He was too late. After a chaotic hour of arguments and threats, school administrators handed Sammy and Tzipi over to the Mexican judge, who in turn handed them over to the Levines.

“When they brought the kids down and they saw us, they just came running. I just kind of knelt down, and we hugged them, and they were happy to see us, and we were overjoyed to see them,” remembers Carolyn Levine.

By the time Perry reached the school, the Levines and his children were gone.

But just behind the Levines, in hot pursuit, was Arthur March. “Maybe I wasn’t thinking rationally, but those are my grandkids!” he says.

“We were very scared. We were very scared…of this man,” says Carolyn Levine. “I believed that he would try and kill us. Absolutely,” Larry Levine adds.

Eventually the Levines lost Arthur March, and headed for an airport.

Within 24 hours, Sammy and Tzipi were back in Nashville.

“They are kidnappers! It was all a big orchestration,” says Perry.

But Larry Levine denies they are kidnappers. “Absolutely not

Love, Lies, Murder?
(Page 6 of 7)

Dec. 9, 2005
Janet March (CBS)

How did the Levines choose that day to pick up their grandchildren? They had gotten a warning from the FBI that Mexican immigration officials planned to question and maybe even deport Perry that morning. This would be a good time, they were told, to try once again to enforce their court order for visitation.

“This was a court order in which we were doing what the court said we had a right to do!” says Larry Levine.

While the court order said they had to return the children to their father in 39 days, the Levines were now taking steps to get permanent custody of Sammy and Tzipi. They enrolled the children in a Nashville school.

Back in Mexico, Perry was afraid he was going to lose his children for good. But then everything changed.

“Two heroes showed up in my life – lawyers by the name of Bob Katz and John Herbison – who had been following my case, and volunteered to get my children back for me,” says March.

His American attorneys found a law that changed everything: not a Tennessee law, not even a United States law, but an international treaty.

“The bottom line is that this treaty says that you can’t steal children and try to make custody determinations in the jurisdiction where you stole them to,” says Perry.

His lawyers took the case to a U.S. federal court and won. The Levines were told to send the children back “with all due speed.”

Perry says his kids’ return was a celebration. “The first thing they did is they hugged me and said ‘Daddy, why did it take so long to get us home?’”

By the summer of 2005, Perry and his new family had settled into life in Mexico. Sammy and Tzipi were stars in their school’s Spanish language production of “Grease,” and Perry and Carmen opened a café.

But nine years after Janet’s disappearance, police were about to make a stunning arrest.



Love, Lies, Murder?
(Page 7 of 7)

Dec. 9, 2005
Janet March (CBS)

On the morning of Aug. 3, 2003, Perry arrived at his restaurant around 8 a.m. His perfect world was about to collapse.

Mexican immigration authorities grabbed Perry, saying his visa had been revoked. They were deporting him back to the United States immediately.

Perry wasn’t allowed to go pack a bag or kiss his wife and children goodbye, and was driven directly to the Guadalajara airport and put on a plane.

The investigation into the murder of Janet March became the mission of Nashville’s cold case detectives Sgt. Pat Postiglione and Bill Pridemore in 2002. Two and half years later, they took their evidence to a grand jury.

The grand jury proceedings were conducted entirely in secret in December 2004, and 59 witnesses testified. In the end, and without his knowledge, Perry was indicted for the murder of his wife.

After the indictment, the FBI and Nashville cops worked with Mexican immigration officials to get Perry out of Mexico and back on U.S. soil where he could be arrested.

Perry’s plane landed in Los Angeles, the first time he had entered the United States since fleeing to Mexico years ago. Once in L.A., he was arrested for Janet’s murder and handed over to Detectives Postiglione and Pridemore, who took him back to Nashville.

For the Levines, the news of Perry’s return to Nashville was bittersweet. Almost immediately, they started working to get the children back, going to court to seek custody. It took weeks and a number of court appearances, but eventually the Levines won custody.

Perry in the meantime had gathered a team of lawyers and was fighting the criminal charges against him in preliminary hearings. In addition to second-degree murder, Perry had been indicted for tampering with evidence and, despite the fact that Janet’s body had never been found, the macabre charge of abuse of a corpse.

Perry’s lawyer pleaded not guilty on his behalf.

Prosecutors are tight lipped about any evidence they plan to present at the trial but acknowledge much of the case is circumstantial, including the new tires Perry put on the family car after Janet disappeared, the missing hard drive from his home computer, and the discrepancies with Perry’s original story of Janet’s departure.

Detective Miller, though no longer working the case, will be a key witness. “Perry said that when Janet left that she had written out a…Allegedly she was going to go on an extended twelve-day vacation,” says Miller.

The problem, says Miller, is that her son’s birthday party was coming up. “I think if you look at the date that she disappeared, on the 15th, and you add that 12 days to it, that would have her coming back on the 27th. And that would make sense because Sammy’s birthday was on the 27th,” he says. “What somebody didn’t think about was that Janet had already sent out invitations for his party for the 25th, two days before that.”

The grand jury also heard from a friend of Janet’s who spoke to her the very evening she disappeared. She had called to arrange a play date with Sammy and her son for the next day.

On the morning of Aug. 16, Sammy's friend and his mother showed up at the March house. The women told 48 Hours they rang the doorbell, knocked on the door, got no answer and let themselves in.

The woman walked down a hallway towards the kitchen, calling out to see if anyone was at home. When she got to a room, she says she heard Perry March's voice coming from behind that door. She says he asked who it was. She told him and he sent her on her way. But she did not leave before noticing something in the room that she later described as "strange."

“There was a new oriental rug, fairly large rug, it was rolled up, basically blocking the doorway where you go into Perry’s study and Janet’s art studio,” says Detective Miller.

Investigators have not found this rug, and Miller says Perry has denied its existence.

The police theory is that after killing Janet, Perry put her body inside that rug and then buried it. Perry all but laughed at that charge when 48 Hours spoke to him four years ago.

“That’s a complete farce! I know the house I lived in and I know there was no oriental rug in our house other than one runner this wide. If she had been wrapped in that rug she would have looked like a hot dog wrapped, like one of those little sausages wrapped that you see on an appetizer tray,” he said.

The rug issue came up again in a recent bond hearing.

Redina Friedman, who was Sammy March’s court appointed guardian during the early custody battles between Perry March and the Levines, said Sammy remembers the night his mother left.

“The night his mother disappeared, he heard his parents fighting. He did not see them. He heard them fighting. And then he fell asleep. When he woke up the following morning, his mother was gone. He saw a rug that was rolled up somewhere in the vicinity of the kitchen, and when he returned later that day, the rug was gone,” says Friedman.

And there is yet another bizarre and surprising twist in this case. Prosecutors now claim that Perry, while in jail, conspired with his father to kill Janet’s parents, the people he blames for all of his troubles with the law.

The plan, prosecutors say, was to hire Russell Nathaniel Farris, aka Bobby Givens, a convict Perry met in jail. Prosecutors say after the job was done, Arthur would meet the killer at the Guadalajara airport, pay him off and help him get away. Authorities say they got wind of the plan and they set up the meeting with Arthur March.

“It’s bullsh*t and they know it. The guy was never here. That’s entrapment. They used the FBI to entrap me,” says Arthur March.

So in addition to the charge of murdering Janet, Perry, along with his father, faces charges of conspiracy to kill her parents.

But Arthur March is taking a “come and get me” stance. “According to my lawyers here, what they do in the United States doesn’t affect me here. I don’t go peacefully. I don’t go like Perry. There’s going to be bloodshed somewhere, theirs or mine.”

Perry’s lawyers say they will mount a vigorous defense. Their client has always proclaimed his innocence.

“Did you get in an argument with her that night, did you get violent, did you kill her, either accidentally or on purpose, and then dispose of the body?” Lagattuta asked.

“The question is highly offensive to me. I know it’s your job to ask it, and the answer is no,” says March.

Perry March’s trial for Janet’s murder is expected to start next summer.


Sammy and Tzipi March are now living with the Levines in Nashville. If acquitted, March plans to fight to regain custody of his children.

Arthur March remains a fugitive in Mexico.