Love, Lies, Murder?

Surprising Arrest In Disappearance Of Janet March


On the morning of Aug. 3, 2003, Perry arrived at his restaurant around 8 a.m. His perfect world was about to collapse.

Mexican immigration authorities grabbed Perry, saying his visa had been revoked. They were deporting him back to the United States immediately.

Perry wasn't allowed to go pack a bag or kiss his wife and children goodbye, and was driven directly to the Guadalajara airport and put on a plane.

The investigation into the murder of Janet March became the mission of Nashville's cold case detectives Sgt. Pat Postiglione and Bill Pridemore in 2002. Two and half years later, they took their evidence to a grand jury.

The grand jury proceedings were conducted entirely in secret in December 2004, and 59 witnesses testified. In the end, and without his knowledge, Perry was indicted for the murder of his wife.

After the indictment, the FBI and Nashville cops worked with Mexican immigration officials to get Perry out of Mexico and back on U.S. soil where he could be arrested.

Perry's plane landed in Los Angeles, the first time he had entered the United States since fleeing to Mexico years ago. Once in L.A., he was arrested for Janet's murder and handed over to Detectives Postiglione and Pridemore, who took him back to Nashville.

For the Levines, the news of Perry's return to Nashville was bittersweet. Almost immediately, they started working to get the children back, going to court to seek custody. It took weeks and a number of court appearances, but eventually the Levines won custody.

Perry in the meantime had gathered a team of lawyers and was fighting the criminal charges against him in preliminary hearings. In addition to second-degree murder, Perry had been indicted for tampering with evidence and, despite the fact that Janet's body had never been found, the macabre charge of abuse of a corpse.

Perry's lawyer pleaded not guilty on his behalf.

Prosecutors are tight lipped about any evidence they plan to present at the trial but acknowledge much of the case is circumstantial, including the new tires Perry put on the family car after Janet disappeared, the missing hard drive from his home computer, and the discrepancies with Perry's original story of Janet's departure.

Detective Miller, though no longer working the case, will be a key witness. "Perry said that when Janet left that she had written out a…Allegedly she was going to go on an extended twelve-day vacation," says Miller.

The problem, says Miller, is that her son's birthday party was coming up. "I think if you look at the date that she disappeared, on the 15th, and you add that 12 days to it, that would have her coming back on the 27th. And that would make sense because Sammy's birthday was on the 27th," he says. "What somebody didn't think about was that Janet had already sent out invitations for his party for the 25th, two days before that."

The grand jury also heard from a friend of Janet's who spoke to her the very evening she disappeared. She had called to arrange a play date with Sammy and her son for the next day.

On the morning of Aug. 16, Sammy's friend and his mother showed up at the March house. The women told 48 Hours they rang the doorbell, knocked on the door, got no answer and let themselves in.

The woman walked down a hallway towards the kitchen, calling out to see if anyone was at home. When she got to a room, she says she heard Perry March's voice coming from behind that door. She says he asked who it was. She told him and he sent her on her way. But she did not leave before noticing something in the room that she later described as "strange."

"There was a new oriental rug, fairly large rug, it was rolled up, basically blocking the doorway where you go into Perry's study and Janet's art studio," says Detective Miller.

Investigators have not found this rug, and Miller says Perry has denied its existence.

The police theory is that after killing Janet, Perry put her body inside that rug and then buried it. Perry all but laughed at that charge when 48 Hours spoke to him four years ago.

"That's a complete farce! I know the house I lived in and I know there was no oriental rug in our house other than one runner this wide. If she had been wrapped in that rug she would have looked like a hot dog wrapped, like one of those little sausages wrapped that you see on an appetizer tray," he said.

The rug issue came up again in a recent bond hearing.

Redina Friedman, who was Sammy March's court appointed guardian during the early custody battles between Perry March and the Levines, said Sammy remembers the night his mother left.

"The night his mother disappeared, he heard his parents fighting. He did not see them. He heard them fighting. And then he fell asleep. When he woke up the following morning, his mother was gone. He saw a rug that was rolled up somewhere in the vicinity of the kitchen, and when he returned later that day, the rug was gone," says Friedman.

And there is yet another bizarre and surprising twist in this case. Prosecutors now claim that Perry, while in jail, conspired with his father to kill Janet's parents, the people he blames for all of his troubles with the law.

The plan, prosecutors say, was to hire Russell Nathaniel Farris, aka Bobby Givens, a convict Perry met in jail. Prosecutors say after the job was done, Arthur would meet the killer at the Guadalajara airport, pay him off and help him get away. Authorities say they got wind of the plan and they set up the meeting with Arthur March.

"It's bullsh*t and they know it. The guy was never here. That's entrapment. They used the FBI to entrap me," says Arthur March.

So in addition to the charge of murdering Janet, Perry, along with his father, faces charges of conspiracy to kill her parents.

But Arthur March is taking a "come and get me" stance. "According to my lawyers here, what they do in the United States doesn't affect me here. I don't go peacefully. I don't go like Perry. There's going to be bloodshed somewhere, theirs or mine."

Perry's lawyers say they will mount a vigorous defense. Their client has always proclaimed his innocence.

"Did you get in an argument with her that night, did you get violent, did you kill her, either accidentally or on purpose, and then dispose of the body?" Lagattuta asked.

"The question is highly offensive to me. I know it's your job to ask it, and the answer is no," says March.

Perry March's trial for Janet's murder is expected to start next summer.

Sammy and Tzipi March are now living with the Levines in Nashville. If acquitted, March plans to fight to regain custody of his children.

Arthur March remains a fugitive in Mexico.