Details of Disappearance
Janet was last seen by her husband, former financial attorney Perry Avram March, on August 15, 1996 at their residence in Nashville, Tennessee. A photo of Perry is posted below this case summary. He claims they argued during the evening and Janet decided to take a twelve-day vacation. She supposedly packed three bags, her passport, and $5,000 cash, and left the home without telling Perry her intended destination. Janet has never been heard from again. She worked as an artist in the Nashville area in 1996; she illustrated children's books.
Perry called Janet's parents, Lawrence and Carolyn Levine, at midnight and told them she had left. Photographs of the Levines are posted below this case summary. They believed she would call soon and were initially not concerned. When time passed and Janet did not contact anyone, Perry and the Levines searched for her and her car, checking airport parking garages and calling her friends and some hotels. They did not immediately report Janet's disappearance. Perry claims Janet's parents did not want him to report it because they thought it might cause trouble for her. The Levines say it was Perry who did not want to contact authorities. Perry and Lawrence eventually reported her disappearance to investigators together, two weeks after she was last seen.
Perry says Janet planned to return home within twelve days so she would not miss her son's sixth birthday on August 27. However, the party celebrating his birthday was planned for August 25, so it makes little sense that Janet would want to delay her return until two days afterwards. Investigators learned that Janet may have confronted Perry over a letter he allegedly wrote to a lover at the time in 1996. Authorities believe it is possible that Janet may have demanded a divorce on August 15 and an argument ensued. The day she disappeared, Janet asked Carolyn to accompany her on an appointment to see a divorce attorney the next day.
One of Janet's friends visited the March residence on August 15 and was told by their children's nanny that Janet was not home. The witness reported seeing a large, rolled-up Oriental rug behind the nanny inside the home, blocking the doorway into Perry's study and Janet's art studio. Authorities believe the rug may have concealed Janet's remains. The rug disappeared from the residence shortly thereafter and has not been found. Perry denies that it ever existed.
Perry reported Janet's gray four-door 1996 Volvo 850 with the Tennessee license plate number 844-CBD was missing the same day she vanished. The car was discovered abandoned at Brixworth Apartments in Nashville on September 7, several weeks after Janet disappeared. There was no sign of her at the scene but her personal affects, including her passport, were found inside the vehicle. A pair of her sandals were in front of the vehicle; they appeared to have been carefully placed there rather than simply dropped. Janet's credit cards have not been used since her disappearance.
Perry replaced the tires on Janet's car shortly after it was found. He claimed he did so because the tires were worn out, but the tire company says they were sound and did not need to be replaced. The tire company says when they asked why the replacement was necessary, Perry told them he wanted a different brand of tires on the car. The hard drive to Janet and Perry's personal computer vanished shortly after she did. Perry has denied having anything to do with the hard drive's disappearance and suggested his father or Lawrence removed it. Both men deny having done this. Perry said Janet had written him a list of things she wanted him to do before she returned from her vacation and the list was on the hard drive. Police wanted to examine the hard drive and the list, which they did not believe Janet actually wrote, but the hard drive vanished before they could retrieve it.
Perry specialized in tax law in 1996. One of his former clients was indicted for money laudering and racketeering before Janet disappeared. Another former client, Bill Hemrick, owned the Hooper Building in Nashville in 1996. The structure was under construction in August of that year. A witness came forward and told authorities that he saw Perry and Hemrick arguing in the city shortly after Janet was last seen. There is speculation that Perry assisted Hemrick in tax evasion and he blackmailed Hemrick into helping him dispose of Janet's body by burying her underneath the Hooper Building. This theory has never been proven and Hemrick has not been charged in connection with Janet's case. He moved to Louisiana and sold his property sometime in the late 1990s.
Perry and Janet have two children, Samson Leo March and Tzipora Josette March. Perry took the children and moved to Chicago, Illinois in September of 1996, one month after his wife vanished. Lawrence and Carolyn were granted visitation rights to the children, but Perry moved the family to Ajijic, Mexico in 1999, before the children's grandparents could see them. He has been disbarred by the state of Tennessee and also charged with various infractions unrelated to Janet's case, including embezzlement and contempt of court. He was not licensed to practice law in Mexico, but operated a legal and financial center shortly after relocating to the country. Perry remarried a year after his arrival in Mexico and he and his second wife, Carmen Rojas Solorio March, a Mexican citizen, had another child. In 2000, reporters for a Tennessee television station traveled to Mexico and interviewed Samson, who corroborated Perry's statement about Janet's disappearance; he said that when he last saw his mother, she kissed him goodbye and drove away, taking luggage with her.
The Levines won a $133 million civil lawsuit against Perry for wrongful death in Janet's disappearance in the late 1990s. The judge ruled against him when Perry failed to appear in court to defend himself. The verdict was overturned on appeal, however. Lawrence and Carolyn tried to gain custody of Samson and Tzipora but were unsuccessful. Perry produced a letter supposedly written by his children which stated that they did not want to see their grandparents, but when a television reporter interviewed Samson, he stated that he loved his grandparents and would like to visit them. The Levines persuaded the Mexican government to help them and were able to take Samson and Tzipora to Tennessee. After only a few days, Perry's attorney forced Lawrence and Carolyn to return the children to their father's custody.
In 2004, Perry sent a photograph to the prosecutor's office in Nashville. The picture was from a film taken of spectators watching the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece; he claimed his wife was in the crowd. Janet's parents examined the photo, however, and said the woman was not their daughter and looked much younger than Janet would have been in 2004. Perry and his new wife, Carmen, continue to maintain that the woman in the picture is Janet and that she probably left of her own accord.
According to most theories, Perry, who is a martial arts expert, may have attacked Janet the night she vanished and caused her death. He has denied any involvement in his wife's disappearance and suggested that drugs may have been involved in her disappearance or that Janet was having an extramarital affair, but Janet's friends say she was not using drugs or seeing anyone at the time she vanished. A contractor who was supervising the renovation of the March home in 1996 told reporters in 2005 that Janet's demeanor abruptly changed in the days before her disappearance. He also stated that during the renovations it would have been very easy to conceal a corpse.
In December 2004, Perry was indicted for second-degree murder, evidence tampering and abuse of a corpse in connection with Janet's disappearance. He was also indicted for felony theft for allegedly stealing $23,000 from his father-in-law's law firm in an unrelated incident in 1999. He was not charged with the crimes until August 2005; the indictment remained a secret until then while authorities worked out the arrangements for Perry's deportation from Mexico.At his bond hearing, a police officer stated that while Perry was being transported to Nashville, he offered to plead guilty to Janet's murder in exchange for a five- to seven-year prison term. Perry denies having ever made such an offer, however, and stated he does not believe Janet is in fact dead.
Prosecutors stated they believed Perry had help in disposing Janet's body. They named Paul Eichel, a former client of Perry's who later pleaded guilty to money laundering; Morris Clinard, an acquaintance of Eichel's who died in 2000; and Perry's own father, Arthur March, as possible accomplices. A photograph of Arthur is posted below this case summary. He was in Mexico at the time of Janet's disappearance. In late October 2005, Arthur and Perry were both charged with one count of solicitation to commit murder and two counts of conspiracy to commit murder. Arthur was not actually arrested until January 2006. Authorities stated the Marches tried to hire Russell Nathaniel Farris, a former cellmate of Perry's with an extensive criminal history, to kill Lawrence and Carolyn. A photograph of Farris is posted below this case summary. In February 2006, Arthur pleaded guilty to the solicitation charge and agreed to testify against his son at Perry's murder trial.
Arthur told police that Perry told him he had killed Janet with a wrench during an argument at their home. About four or five weeks later, Arthur and Perry took Janet's body to Bowling Green, Kentucky and Arthur disposed of it in some brush while Perry stayed behind at their hotel. Investigators escorted Arthur to Bowling Green to look for Janet's body, but he was unable to remember the precise location where he had dumped it. He stated Perry had originally buried Janet's remains himself, but he called upon his father to help him move the body after he found out the first burial spot was going to become a construction site.
Perry was convicted of the theft charge in April 2006. In June 2006, he was convicted of conspiracy to commit first-degree murder and solicitation to commit first-degree murder in connection with the failed plot to kill Janet's parents. Perry's lawyers had used a defense of entrapment on those charges. He was tried for Janet's murder in August 2006. Prosecutors theorized that Janet had been murdered because she found out Perry was going to pay $24,000 to settle a sexual harassment claim filed against him. Perry's defense attorney argued there was no evidence to prove Janet was even deceased, let alone murdered by her husband. Perry was convicted of all counts against him. He was sentenced to a total of 56 years in prison for Janet's murder and the attempted murder-for-hire of Lawrence and Carolyn. Perry will not be eligible parole until 2040. In September 2006, Arthur was sentenced to five years in prison for his role in the murder-for-hire plot. The plea agreement recommended he get a maximum of eighteen months, but the presiding judge disregarded this, citing the seriousness of Arthur's crimes. He died in prison three months later, at age 78. Eichel and Clinard have never been charged in Janet's disappearance.
Janet was officially declared dead in 2000. Lawrence and Carolyn have been appointed to administer her estate, worth an estimated $500,000. Her remains have never been found, but foul play is suspected in her disappearance due to the circumstances involved.
Above Left: Perry March;
Above Center: Arthur March;
Above Right: Russell Nathaniel Farris;
Below Left: Lawrence Levine;
Below Right: Carolyn Levine