A sad chapter in one of Lake Chapala's longest-running soap operas closed on Thursday, when former resident Arthur March died in a Texas prison. He was 78. March, father of convicted killer Perry March, passed away after serving four months of a five-year prison sentence for his role in a botched murder-for-hired scheme designed to eliminate Perry's former in laws. The hit, which turned out to be a sting, snared Arthur after he went to the Guadalajara airport to pickup the hitman, who turned out to be a jailhouse informant. (Perry just filed suit against the informant.)
According to reporting by Chapala-area journalist Dale Hoyt Palfrey, Arthur March was supposed to provide a safe haven in Ajijic for the hitman. Mexican immigration authorities later seized March outside of an Ajijic doughnut shop last winter and quickly put him on a plane out of the country. (The amaparo March had obtained against police action had just expired and March's attorney apparently failed to notify his client.) March had vowed never to leave Mexico without a struggle and according to Hoyt Palfrey, March pulled a belt-buckle knife - the popular kind from the Ojeda factory in Sayula, Jalisco - while being apprehended.
Perry March, who was previously a prominent Nashville attorney, was convicted earlier this year of murdering his wife Janet, who disappeared in 1996. Her body was never found. In a plea bargain, which a Tennessee judge later threw out, March said he disposed of Janet's body at Kentucky golf course. After the deal was nixed, March was sentenced to five years in prison. Perry is serving a 56-year sentence, but is appealing. The younger March was also convicted of stealing money from his in laws' legal firm.
Although convicted of participating in a murder-for-hire scheme, Arthur March still has his supporters, one person said of him on the Chapala.com message boards, "In spite of everything, I knew him well, he was a great person always positive and helpful, he had pride.... he will be missed." Others strongly disagreed.
Even with Arthur gone, Perry will keep this saga going for years - witness his custody petitions from prison. And, just musing, where's his new Mexican wife holed up these days? And where's the money Perry allegedly swindled? Anyway, this will be gossiped about at Lakeside for a long time to come.