Samson "Sammy" March was not a happy camper on his first day of kindergarten at the University School in Nashville, Tennessee, on August 22, 1996. The other children in his class were predictably nervous and teary-eyed on their first day of school, but Sammy, whose sixth birthday was just days away, was particularly upset because his mother, Janet March, had been gone for a week.
Sammy's teacher, Kim Scott, remembered that the little boy was "very sad because he had not seen his mom and he missed her. He did not get to say goodbye to her before she left."
Sammy's father, attorney Perry March, told people that his wife was away on vacation. Naturally Perry did not share the details with his son or his two-year-old daughter, Tzipora, but he told others that on August 15, 1996, he and his wife had had an argument after which Janet had packed her bags and informed him that she was taking a 12-day vacation. March acknowledged that it was a bitter fight, and it might have started when Janet learned that her husband had been paying a $24,000 out-of-court settlement to a paralegal he had sexually harassed at Bass Berry & Sims, the law firm where he had worked until 1991. According to the Associated Press, he had been caught on videotape "leaving sexually explicit notes" for the woman. So far he had paid only half of the settlement and had informed the woman in a letter that he couldn't pay her the balance.
March said that during the argument, Janet had written up a "to-do list," which she expected him to complete before she returned. The list included balancing the checkbook, changing light bulbs, and cleaning the basement. "Things that I had seemed to have dropped the ball on in the course of my 10 years with her," March said on the television program 48 Hours Investigates. She made him sign the list, which she'd titled "Janet's 12-Day Vacation," as if it were a contract, then put her bags into the family's 1996 gray Volvo 850.
That night March told Janet's parents, Lawrence and Carolyn Levine, that Janet had promised to be back in 12 days, in time for Sammy's birthday party on August 27. It would later prove to be an odd statement because Janet had sent out invitations saying that the party would be held on the 25th.
Days passed, and Janet did not show up for her son's birthday party or his first day of school. March covered for her, telling the parents of Sammy's kindergarten friends that she was in California visiting her brother and that an ear infection had prevented her from flying. But Janet March never returned home.