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.