Cold Case Cops Try To Solve A Nearly Decade-Old Mystery

Produced by Deborah Grau

This broadcast first aired on Jan. 6, 2007. It was updated on July 3, 2007.

Janet March seemed to have it all - 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 her disappearance.

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 his mind.

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 - 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. She'd be back on Aug. 27th, just in time for their son Sammy's 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 Janet's parents, Larry and Carolyn Levine.

"I said 'Perry, don't worry about it. I'm sure if you had an argument, she's upset - she's probably driving around to cool off and she'll be back. Call me when she comes home,'" Janet's mother remembers.

But Janet didn't 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.

Janet's 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 didn't 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 Janet's parents called the police until two weeks after Janet disappeared.

"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 claims.

But the Levines say it was Perry who didn't want to call the police. "Perry insisted he didn't want to go to the police. He wanted to go see a private investigator," Larry recalls.

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,