Perry March Convicted of Wife's Murder

It took 10 years, but justice finally was served

Perry March and Janet Levine March
Perry March and Janet Levine March. Police Photos

On August 17, 2006, Perry March, a successful corporate lawyer, was sentenced in the murder of his wife, Janet March, ending a 10-year mystery. A decade earlier, Janet had mysteriously disappeared from her four-acre Forest Hills estate in Nashville, Tennessee, leaving behind two children and a thriving career as a painter and children's book illustrator. Rumors were rampant, but there was no evidence that a crime had been committed.

Missing

On the evening of August 15, 1996, the couple got into an argument and, according to Perry, Janet decided to take a 12-day vacation. She packed three bags, around $5,000 in cash, a bag of marijuana, and her passport and drove off in her gray 1996 Volvo at 8:30 p.m., he said, without telling anyone where she was going.

Around midnight, Perry contacted his in-laws, Lawrence and Carolyn Levine, and told them that Janet had left on vacation. At first, the Levines didn't worry, but as time went on, their concerns grew. They wanted to contact police but later said Perry had discouraged them from doing so. Perry said it was the other way around.

Perry and the Levines searched for Janet for several days, but when their efforts failed, they contacted police. That marked two weeks since Janet had disappeared.

Perry and Janet had two children together—a son, Samson, and a daughter, Tzipora. Perry said that Janet had planned to return by August 27 to celebrate Samson's birthday. This struck investigators as odd because Samson's birthday party was scheduled for two days before Janet's return.

Investigators also learned that on the day Janet disappeared, she had asked her mother to go with her to see a divorce attorney the next day. Janet had discovered that Perry had paid $25,000 to avoid a sexual harassment suit after he was caught writing sexually explicit letters to a paralegal that worked in his office. (Perry had been fired as a result and was hired at his father-in-law's firm.) The authorities believed that Janet had confronted Perry about wanting a divorce, and an argument erupted

The Rolled-Up Rug

There were questions about a rug that was seen at the March home the day after Janet disappeared. Marissa Moody and Janet had planned to meet on August 16 so their sons could play together. When Moody arrived at the March residence, Janet wasn't at home. Perry was, but he didn't come out of his office to greet Moody, sending word through Samson that she could still drop off her son to play.

While at the March home, Moody saw a large, dark, rolled-up rug lying on the floor. She knew that Janet kept the home's beautiful hardwood floors polished—and rug-free. When Moody returned to pick up her son, she told authorities, the rug was gone.

Another witness reported seeing a rug that day at the March home. However, Ella Goldshmid, the March children's nanny, did not recall it. When investigators questioned Perry about the rug, he denied that it existed and said Moody never entered the home the day that she claimed to have seen it.

Perry's denial about the rug suggested to detectives that during the couple's argument the night before, Perry, who held a black belt in karate, could have easily killed Janet, who weighed just 104 pounds, hidden her body inside the rug, then disposed of it the following day.

More Evidence

On September 7, Janet's car was located at a Nashville apartment complex. The police found Janet's passport and other personal effects but no sign of Janet. Her car was backed into the parking spot. According to Janet's best friend, she always pulled into parking places forwards, never backwards.

A flight attendant remembered seeing someone resembling Perry leaving that apartment complex on a mountain bike around 1 a.m. the night Janet disappeared.

Perry and Janet shared a personal computer, but not long after she went missing, so did the hard drive.

Leaving Nashville

A month after Janet disappeared, Perry and the children moved to Chicago. Shortly after the move, Perry and his in-laws, the Levines, got into a legal battle over Janet's assets. Perry wanted to be granted control of her assets and the Levines opposed it. They also wanted visitation rights, which Perry vehemently opposed, saying that they only wanted access so the detectives could interview the children.

In 1999, the court awarded the Levines visitation, but before they could see the children, Perry moved his family to his father's house in Ajijic, Mexico.

The Levines had Janet declared legally dead and sued Perry for wrongful death in the disappearance of their daughter. Perry failed to show up for court, and the Levines were awarded $133 million. Perry had the verdict overturned on appeal.

Grandparents Fight for Custody

A year after moving to Mexico, Perry married Carmen Rojas Solorio. The couple had a child together.

The Levines continued their fight to visit their grandchildren. With the help of the Mexican government, they were able to bring Samson and Tzipora to Tennessee for a maximum visitation of 39 days. The Levines then began their fight to gain full custody of the children.

Perry claimed that the Levines had abducted his children, and two Tennessee attorneys agreed to represent him pro bono. The Levines lost, and the children were returned to their father.

Cold Case Detectives

In early 2000, two cold case detectives revisited Janet's disappearance. By 2004, the investigators and the prosecutor's office had compiled evidence against Perry and presented it to a grand jury, which returned an indictment against him on charges of second-degree murder, tampering with evidence, and abuse of a corpse. Perry was also indicted for felony theft for allegedly taking $23,000 from his father-in-law's firm, where he was working in 1999, presumably to raise the $25,000 to quash claims by the paralegal that he had written her sexually explicit letters.

The indictment remained secret until the FBI and the Mexican government could work out Perry's extradition.

In August 2005, nearly nine years after Janet disappeared, Perry was deported from Mexico and arrested. During the bond hearing, one of the cold case detectives, Pat Postiglione, stated that during the flight from Mexico to Nashville, Perry had said he was willing to plead guilty in exchange for a sentence of no more than five to seven years. Perry denied ever making such a statement.

Plotting to Kill In-Laws

Perry was held in the Davidson County Jail in Nashville, where he befriended Russell Farris, who was awaiting trial for attempted murder. Perry told Farris that he could arrange to have his bond posted if he would agree to kill the Levines. Farris eventually told his attorney about it, and the information was turned over to the authorities. Farris agreed to work with the police, who recorded subsequent conversations between the two men.

Also recorded were conversations Farris had with Perry's father, Arthur March, who was still living in Mexico. Arthur told Farris the best time of day to go to the Levines' home, how to obtain a gun, the type of gun to get, and how to travel to Ajijic, Mexico, after he had killed them.

Farris told Perry he was being released, although he was being transferred to another jail. Before Farris left, Perry wrote down the Levines' address and handed him the piece of paper.

Perry was arrested and charged with two counts of solicitation to commit murder by Davidson County prosecutors. He was also charged with two counts of conspiring to commit murder by federal prosecutors. Arthur March was charged with the same crimes but remained in Mexico as a fugitive.

In 2006, Arthur pleaded guilty to the solicitation charge and worked out a plea deal in exchange for testifying against Perry for Janet's murder.

Trials

In April 2006, Perry was found guilty of embezzling $23,000 from his father-in-law's firm. In June 2006, he was convicted of conspiracy to murder the Levines. In August 2006, Perry went on trial for the second-degree murder of his wife, tampering with evidence, and abuse of a corpse.

Among the evidence was a videotaped deposition given by Arthur in which he talked about how much he disliked the Levines and spoke with disdain about Janet.

He then said that Perry had killed Janet by striking her with a wrench. A few weeks after her murder, Perry had driven Arthur to where he had disposed of the body and explained that it had to be moved because it was about to become a construction site. The two then drove Janet's body to Bowling Green, Kentucky, where Arthur disposed of it in some thick brush. Her body has never been found, although Arthur tried to lead authorities to the spot where he remembered leaving Janet.

Conviction

On August 17, 2006, just a week after the trial had started, the jury deliberated for 10 hours before reaching a verdict of guilty on all charges.

Perry was sentenced to a total of 56 years for murdering Janet and for the attempted murder-for-hire of the Levines. He is serving in the Northeast Correctional Complex in Mountain City, Tennessee, and won't be eligible for parole until 2035.

Arthur March was sentenced to five years for the attempted murder-for-hire of the Levines. He died three months later.