Jan. 6, 2006
Perry and Janet March (CBS)
"His arrogance was like he was laughing at us."
Det. Pat Postiglione
(CBS) Janet March seemed to have it all Ė two beautiful
children, a successful attorney husband, a dream house
she designed herself and an aspiring art career. But
appearances can be deceiving and on Aug. 29th, 1996, she
was reported missing.
What would follow was an international investigation
that would last almost ten years. As Bill Lagattuta
reports, the case ended up with two members of a cold
case squad who would try to uncover the mystery of what
exactly happened to Janet March and who was involved in
After nearly nine years since the disappearance of
Janet, her husband Perry March returned to Nashville,
Tenn., to face murder charges. As he walked into the
courthouse, there was no telling what was going through
He might already be looking ahead to his next move, or
he might be looking back on the series of events,
stretching back 20 years, that led up to this moment Ė
back to the day he married Janet Levine and back to the
birth of his son, Sammy, and his daughter, Tzipi.
He may have thought about the day he became the lead
suspect in Janet's murder, and back to the day he fled
with his children to Mexico, to live happily ever after.
Was his legal fight finally over? Until now, he had
always managed to outmaneuver everyone and he was about
to try again, with a move that would change everything.
Perry March, who first spoke with 48 Hours in 2002, has
never wavered in his account of that night and says he
did not kill his wife.
March said after he put their two children to bed, he
and Janet began to argue. His wife was going away, Perry
March says, for 12 days. Sheíd be back on Aug. 27th,
just in time for their son Sammyís sixth birthday.
"And she had prepared a list for me, uh, when I was
upstairs with the kids. 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. And she made me
sign her list, that I would have these things done when
she got back. And she said 'See ya' and she started her
Volvo and she drove off," March remembers.
At midnight, March called Janetís parents, Larry and
"I said 'Perry, donít worry about it. Iím sure if you
had an argument, sheís upset Ė sheís probably driving
around to cool off and sheíll be back. Call me when she
comes home,'" Janet's mother remembers.
But Janet didnít come back in the morning and Carolyn
says she became worried at that point.
Speaking about their daughter's plans, the Levines say
Janet was focused on her kids, her marriage, a home and
her art career; they had watched their daughter fulfill
those plans one-by-one.
In 1987, she married her college boyfriend, Perry March.
The couple began building a life together, settling just
a few miles from her parents.
Janetís parents did help Perry advance, paying his way
through law school; Larry Levine later hired him to work
in his law firm.
Meanwhile, Janet devoted herself to a promising art
career and to her two children, Sammy and Tzipi.
Somehow, Janet also managed to find the time to build a
new house for her family, which Perry says she had
designed completely by herself; Janet was living the
life she dreamed of.
After his wife didn't come home after that first night,
Perry March says he "felt that if she didnít make it
back the first night that maybe she was really at a
hotel, you know, kind of luxuriating quietly."
But after another day went by, Perry March says he
became worried enough to call his father Arthur, who was
living in Mexico. A few days later, Arthur arrived.
There was still no word about Janet's whereabouts.
When Janet didn't return home in time for Sammy's
birthday party, Perry says he began to panic. "Because
wild horses would not keep her from that birthday
party," he explains.
Yet for all their worrying, neither Perry March nor
Janetís parents called the police until two weeks after
"Carolyn and Larry would not let me report it. They were
very concerned that if we reported something to the
authorities it would end up embarrassing Janet," Perry
But the Levines say it was Perry who didnít want to call
the police. "Perry insisted he didn't want to go to the
police. He wanted to go see a private investigator,"
Perry says that is an outright lie and that he didn't
contact the authorities because he "loved these people."
But the Levines maintain their version of the story.
"But Perry kept telling us maybe she went there, maybe
she went there," Larry says. "He told us a story and
unfortunately I believed him," his wife Carolyn adds,
Carolyn couldnít help thinking about the conversation
she had with Janet on the day she disappeared. "She
asked me to go with her the next day to see a divorce
lawyer. I was concerned for her marriage. It never
occurred to me that I should be concerned for her life,"
At first, Nashville detective Mickey Miller treated
Janet's disappearance like any other missing persons
case. "The first thing we did is start checking credit
card accounts and things of that nature," he recalls.
But Janet didn't leave any kind of trail. Then, just a
week into the investigation, police found Janetís car,
parked in an apartment complex just a few miles from the
Inside the car were a lot of her personal effects,
including her passport. This was no longer just a
missing personís case Ė now it was a homicide
investigation and the prime suspect was Perry March.
The fact Janet wasnít reported missing for two weeks was
working against investigators. "It gives somebody,
whoever committed this crime a chance to dispose of the
body. And, of course, you lose evidence with time," Det.
Police searched the March house from top to bottom,
vacuuming all of the floors, checking bags and even
processing the hardwood floors for fingerprints and palm
But it was what police didnít find that bothered them
the most: "One of the items specified by the search
warrant was a computer inside the home," says Miller.
"Perry said that when Janet left that she had typed out
a note basically the contract between the two of them
for him to sign."
That list was practically the only piece of evidence
that backed up Perry Marchís story. But police didnít
believe him. In fact, they wanted to get their hands on
the computerís hard drive. Because they believed it
would show that Perry, not Janet had written the list.
The problem was the hard drive was missing. Someone else
had gotten to it first.
Perry March denied removing the hard drive, saying the
only two people who could have done it was Janet's
father Larry Levine or his own father Arthur.
Perry Marchís father was staying at the March house
shortly after Janet disappeared but he denies removing
the hard drive. As for Larry Levine, he says he "had
nothing to gain by trying to get at it."
Meanwhile, police were also concerned about something
else they didnít find: the tires on Perry Marchís car.
Six days after Janet disappeared, March replaced the
tires with new ones.
Det. Miller says that according to the tire company, the
tires did not need changing. "In fact they questioned
that, why the tires were being changed, and Perry said
he just didnít like the type tires that were on the car
at the time and he wanted a different brand," he says.
As investigators struggled to come up with enough
evidence to charge Perry March, he stopped cooperating
with the police. Then he packed up and moved to Chicago,
taking with him his two children.
The Levines immediately filed for visitation rights with
their two grandchildren but Perry March fought them for
In 1999, once the Levineís were granted visitation
rights, Perry March was nowhere to be found Ė he had
moved to Mexico.
Asked why he left the country, March tells 48 Hours, "I
moved to Mexico because I needed to get the hell out of
dodge and start a new life and get out of their
He and the children were already far away in Ajijic, the
Mexican town his father Arthur had retired to years
Arthur and Perry March were living in a Mexican
paradise. One year later, Perry March and his children
moved into a house along with his new bride, Carmen
Rojas and her three kids.
At the time, there were still no criminal charges
against Perry March. Asked if he thinks his son was
being unfairly accused, Arthur March joked, "Is the pope
But thatís not what Janetís parents believed. Larry
Levine says he was "100 percent, unconditionally
positive," that Perry had killed his daughter.
The Levines won a wrongful death suit against their
son-in-law, and then showed up in Mexico with legal
papers granting them visitation rights to see their
grandchildren. But before Perry March showed up to try
and stop them, the Levines took their grandchildren to
Nashville and fought for permanent custody.
But their victory was short-lived. Thanks to an
international treaty, a federal judge forced the Levines
to send the children back to Mexico and their father.
Reunited in Mexico, Perry March and his family had a lot
to celebrate; besides the return of his children, his
wife Carmen gave birth to a daughter, Azul.
But Perry March and his family were totally unaware of
what was brewing for him in Nashville.
Back in the United States, Pat Postiglione was
determined to seek justice in the disappearance of Janet
March. Sgt. Postiglione and his partner, Bill Pridemore
of Nashvilleís cold case squad took over the case, six
years after the disappearance.
Evidence such as the missing hard drive, Perry March
changing his tires six days after Janet went missing, as
well as his lack of cooperation, convinced detectives
March had killed his wife.
But detectives still had one major obstacle. "Do we have
a body? No, we don't have a body. Do we have anything
that indicates she's dead? Blood for example. We had
nothing like that," Postiglione recalls.
The Levines, meanwhile, had never given up. They have
been relentless to get custody of Sammy and Tzipi and
justice for Janet.
Some eight years after Janet mysteriously vanished, the
detectives decided it was time to take a shot.
In Dec., 2004, a secret grand jury indicted Perry March
for murder. And as it turns out, the Mexican authorities
were also building a case against him for visa fraud and
were glad to cooperate. They kicked him out, handing
Perry March over to the FBI, who transported him to Los
From there, detectives Pridemore and Postiglione
escorted him back to Nashville. Back in Tennessee, March
was booked on murder charges; he pleaded not guilty, and
in the hearing one month later, he was unable to make
bond set at a whopping $3 million.
He was placed in an isolation unit at the county jail to
await trail. Behind bars, he might not have had much
time to socialize, but Perry March quickly made an
March told Russell Nathaniel Farris he had a plan that
could solve both of their problems. "He starts telling
this person how good life is in Mexico. How you fellow
inmate would enjoy life in Mexico," Postiglione
And then, Perry March made one of the biggest mistakes
of his life. "He befriends Nate Farris and solicits him
to kill the Levines," says Det. Pridemore.
Farris played along, but secretly went to the police.
Facing attempted murder charges of his own, Farris
agrees to cooperate.
Authorities gave Farris a digital recorder to tape his
conversations, hoping to listen in on Perry Marchís plan
to commit double murder.
Over two days, Farris recorded a number of conversations
with Perry March.
"When we heard him talk about, 'make sure you do it when
the kids are not there,' we just found it incredible,"
Next, March could be heard giving Farris the Levines'
street address. Why would Perry March want the Levines
Det. Pridemore's theory: "With his hatred of the Levines,
he starts calculating how much better his case will be
if they were gone."
And what was Farris supposed to get out of this? A
one-way ticket to the good life in Mexico. The deal was
that if he killed the Levines, he could live in luxury
in Mexico, with the help of Arthur March, according to
his son Perry.
"My dad will stash you as long as it's necessary," Perry
March could be heard telling Farris. "He'd love ya,
trust me. My dad would take care of you like a son."
Perry March and Farris cooked up a code name to be used
in contacting Arthur March in Mexico: "Bobby Givings."
When detectives took Farris out of the isolation unit,
Perry March believed he made bond and was out on the
street. In fact, in a room at a Nashville police
station, Farris was making phone calls to Arthur March.
"The first conversation. They were in discussions about
killing the Levines five minutes into the first
conversation," Postiglione explains.
"You know about our agreement?" Farris could be heard
asking Arthur March.
"No, Iím sorry, I donít know anything. He said you call
and I was just to listen and you would talk," March
"I know, know things have been hard because of the
Levine people, man. Itís time that all this s--- is
dealt and done with," Farris said.
As Perry March sat in a Nashville jail facing trial for
one murder, he thought his new pal Russell "Nate" Farris
was making good on his promise and committing another.
"He thought he had Nate wrapped around his finger. The
truth is, Nate had him wrapped around his finger,"
Using the alias "Bobby Givings," Farris made phone calls
to Perry Marchís father in Mexico about the hit on the
Levines and it didnít take long for Arthur March to
implicate himself in the murder plot.
"Tell me what you need and Iíll take care of it if I
can, possibly," March told Farris.
"The first conversation they were on, within five
minutes into the conversation, they're discussing guns,"
says Det. Postiglione. "Within five minutes, Arthur
"Okay, you gonna take one or two out?" March asked
After two weeks working out the plan, Farris called
Arthur March to tell him it was all over and that he had
killed the Levines.
Farris then gave Arthur March his travel plans for their
rendezvous in Mexico.
"In his mind, he's picking up Nate. Who just killed
Larry and Caroline Levine. In his mind the job is done.
So he's there to pick him up. Until the FBI agent
approaches him [at the airport]," Postiglione explains.
Arthur March was arrested and brought back to Nashville;
father and son were together again, this time behind
bars and both charged with conspiracy to commit murder.
The Arthur March we had known over the course of this
story has always seemed full of life, always a force to
be reckoned with. When 48 Hours meet with him months
after his arrest, he seemed a totally changed man.
Arthur March denied conspiring with his son to have the
Levines killed. "I never talked to them. Never talked to
my son about it," he said.
"When you listen to those phone calls, it sure sounded
like you were in on it," Lagattuta remarked.
"Well, it does. I have a big mouth. And I probably said
something things I shouldn't have said," March replied.
But Arthur March had only begun to talk. Facing the rest
of his life in jail, Arthur was about to give police the
kind of break they never dreamed theyíd get.
"He offers to give, to plead guilty to the conspiracy
charge. To give us all the information and cooperate
with the investigation pertaining to Janet's death. And
testify against Perry if necessary," Postiglione
In exchange for a lighter prison sentence, Arthur March
agreed to tell all he knew about his daughter in-law
Janetís disappearance in a videotaped deposition.
"The first time that Perry told me about it was at the
house when he asked me to clean up. He was afraid there
was some blood stains," Arthur March testified during
"Did Perry tell you that he had killed Janet?" Lagattuta
"Yes!" Arthur March replied.
March said his son had told him they had had an
argument. "She grabbed a butcher's knife or a kitchen
knife and came at him, and he picked up a wrench, small
wrench. And hit her with it. And he hit her too hard,
and she, she was dead," he told Lagattuta.
Arthur March says his son told him it was an accident
and that he believes that version of the story.
As the weeks went by, Perry March kept up the charade
that he had nothing to do with Janetís disappearance.
Then two months after she went missing, Janetís burial
site suddenly didnít seem so safe anymore. The heavily
wooded area where her body had been placed, was about to
be developed. Fearful that she would be discovered,
Perry March needed to cover his tracks, and so he turned
to the one man he knew who would be there to help him:
"The only thing I did was help him remove the body from
where he had buried it," Arthur March recalls.
The body had been buried just a few miles from the March
house. "I picked it up, the body, and it was nighttime.
I had one little flashlight. But I got it done," Arthur
Perry March, meanwhile, sat in the car while his father
went to get Janetís body. They put the trash bag
containing Janet in the trunk of the car, and according
to Arthur, drove to Kentucky.
Arthur March dropped Perry off at a motel and continued
on, looking for a remote spot to dispose of Janet.
"I was gonna put it in water, like a stream. But I found
there wasn't enough water in it. So that's when I took
it back, and I saw this pile of brush. And I got the
idea, 'Well, that's the best way to get rid of the body,
'cuz nobody'll ever find it.' And that's what I did,"
Arthur March remembers.
And he was right. Arthur March later tried to help
detectives locate the spot where Janet was buried but
they never were able to find her body.
Still, with what Arthur March told them, detectives were
finally able to piece together the puzzle that eluded
them for 10 years. "He said he's following the creek all
the way along. As he's driving back, he looks up, and
low and behold, there's this brush pile," Postiglione
"And he takes parts of the body, disposes in the brush
pile. Drives back. Tells Perry, 'Don't worry about it.
It's taken care of. Go back to sleep.' Perry just sleeps
through this whole thing. While his dad is out there
disposing of his wife," Det. Pridemore adds.
Asked how he could do something like this to his
daughter-in-law, March tells Lagattuta, "Because at this
point in time, she was not my daughter-in-law anymore.
She was just a dead body."
"She was just a dead body. It was over. I had taken care
of the body in such a way that nobody would ever find
it," he says.
With the startling confession of Arthur March,
detectives Postiglione and Pridemore believed they have
a solid case against Perry March, despite not finding a
In the summer of 2006, ten years after Janet vanished,
Perry March finally faced a jury for the murder of his
Setting the stage, prosecutor Tom Thurman says Perry
March killed in a rage.
With no direct evidence to connect Perry March to the
crime, defense attorney Bill Massey argued that with no
body, there was no murder.
Prosecutors may not have a body, but they do had Arthur
March, the man who says he buried the body.
Asked how March reacted to his father's testimony
against him, Det. Pridemore says, "The way I looked at
it is, as if it was some stranger up there lying."
Another key witness was Perry Marchís jail house
"buddy," Nathaniel Farris.
Along with Farrisí damning testimony, jurors also heard
the audio tapes of Perry March plotting to kill the
"You take your time at it, you donít make any mistakes,
you go carefully, you figure your reconnaissance, you do
what you need to do," Perry March could be heard in a
taped conversation with Farris.
But despite the incriminating evidence, Marchís attorney
kept insisting no one knew what happened to Janet.
The defense told jurors Janet left the house alive that
night and that there was an eyewitness: her son Sammy,
who they say was up in the window and as sheís backing
"She told me that sheíd be back soon," Sammy testified.
The defense introduced a television interview from 2001,
with Perryís son Sammy, saying, "She came in and gave me
my goodnight kiss. And then I got out of bed and went to
the window to wave to her when she was driving away in
The last person to take the stand was Perry March
himself, the man who for ten years had proclaimed his
innocence but suddenly had nothing to say.
"I choose not to testify," he told the court.
After one week of testimony, the jury began
deliberating. After just ten hours of deliberations,
jurors found March guilty on all three counts: second
degree murder, abuse of a corpse and tampering with
The irony is that prosecutors may not have had enough to
At the age of 45, Perry March will most likely spend the
rest of his natural life in prison. Convicted both of
conspiracy to commit murder and second degree murder,
the judge sentenced Perry March to 56 years.
"Iím sorry and sad that our grandchildren have had to
live ten years without their mother and with the person
who took her from them," Janet's mother Carolyn
commented after the sentencing.
Sammy, now age 16 and Tzipi, age 12, are living with
their grandparents Carolyn and Larry Levine in
As for Arthur March. the man who helped convict his own
son, the judge rejected his plea agreement of 18 months,
and sentences him to five years.
And two Nashville detectives were happy to finally close
the book on Perry March.
"His days are done in terms of Perry March, Perry March,
Perry March. That's over. And now maybe the attention
will be on Janet versus on Perry. It was a satisfaction
of knowing that finally some justice for Janet so to
speak, sheís finally gonna get some justice," Det.
"There's not a day that goes by that I don't think about
my daughter," Carolyn comments. "She had so many
talents. She was a very caring, compassionate person.
Every parent thinks their kid is special. But she really
Arthur March died of natural causes in federal prison on
December 21st. He was 78 years old.
Perry March will be eligible for parole in 30 years.
He'll be 75.