Perry March Convicted of Wife's Murder

It Took 10 Years, but Finally Justice 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-long mystery. Nearly a decade to the day after Perry's conviction, Janet March 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 spread like wildfire, but there was no evidence of foul play or that any crime had been committed.

Gone Missing

On the evening of August 15, 1996, Perry and Janet March 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 four-door 1996 Volvo 850 at 8:30 p.m., without telling anyone where she was going.

Around midnight that night, 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 the police but later said Perry had discouraged them from doing it. 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 the police together. By that time, it had been 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. However, this struck investigators as odd because Samson's birthday party was scheduled for August 25, two days before Janet's return date.

Investigators also learned that sometime during the day of August 15, Janet 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 anonymously to a paralegal that worked in his office. (March had been fired from that company as a result and was hired on at his father-in-law's firm. It was at that point that March learned about the potential of a sexual harassment suit against him.) The authorities believed that Janet had confronted Perry about wanting a divorce, and an argument had erupted.  

The Rolled-Up Rug

There were also questions about a rug that was seen at the March home the day after Janet disappeared. On Friday, August 16, Marissa Moody and Janet March had planned to meet for part of the day so that their sons could play together. When Moody arrived at the March residence at the scheduled time, Janet was of course not at home. Perry was, however, but he did not come out of his office to greet Moody. He merely sent word through Samson that she could still drop off her son to play.

While at the March home, Moody noticed that a large, dark, rolled-up rug was lying on the floor. It was especially noticeable to Moody because Samson was bouncing on one end of it, and 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 that the rug was gone.

Another witness surfaced, stating that they had also seen a rug at the March home on August 16. However, Ella Goldshmid, the March children's nanny, did not recall seeing a rug.

When investigators questioned Perry about the rug, he denied that it existed and said that Moody never entered the home on the day that she claims to have seen a rug.

Perry's denial about the rug led detectives to theorize 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 Suspicious 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 there was no sign of Janet. Janet's car was backed into the parking spot. According to Janet's best friend, she only pulled into parking places and never backed into them.

A flight attendant remembered seeing someone that looked like Perry leaving that apartment complex on a mountain bike at around 1:00 a.m. on the night Janet disappeared.

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

Leaving Nashville

In September, 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 was vehemently opposed to, 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.

In response, the Levines had Janet declared legally dead and filed a civil lawsuit against 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 felt 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 the disappearance of Janet March. By 2004, the investigators and the prosecutor's office had compiled evidence against Perry and presented it to a grand jury. The jury returned an indictment against Perry on charges of second-degree murder, tampering with evidence, and abuse of a corpse. Perry was also indicted for felony theft for an alleged 1999 theft of $23,000 from his father-in-law's firm, where he was working. Perry presumably stole the money to raise the $25,000 that would quash claims by the paralegal that he had written her sexually explicit letters.

The indictment remained secret until the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Mexican government could work out Perry's extradition.

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

A Plot to Kill the In-Laws

Perry was held in the Nashville County jail. There he befriended inmate 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. The discussion went on for weeks. Farris ended up telling his attorney about it, and the information was turned over to the authorities. Farris agreed to work with the police, and the police 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 Ferris the best time of day to go to the Levine's home, how to obtain a gun, the type of gun to get, and how to travel to Ajijic, Mexico, after he had killed the Levines.

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

Perry was arrested and charged with two counts of solicitation to commit murder by the Davidson County prosecutors. He was also charged with two counts of conspiring to commit murder by federal prosecutors. Perry’s father Arthur was also 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 his testimony against Perry for the murder of Janet March.

Perry's 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 the conspiracy to murder the Levines. In August 2006, Perry went on trial for second-degree murder of his wife, tampering with evidence, and abuse of a corpse.

Along with other evidence, a videotaped deposition given by Arthur March was played for the jury. In it, Arthur talked about how much he disliked the Levines and spoke with disdain about Janet.

He then said that Perry 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 remains to Bowling Green, Kentucky, where Arthur disposed of it in some thick brush. Her body has never been found, even though Arthur March tried to lead authorities to the spot where he remembers leaving Janet.

Convicted

On August 17, 2006, just a week after the trial had started, the jury deliberated for 10 hours before reaching their 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 will not be eligible for parole until 2040.

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