Officials no closer to solving disappearance of Jackie Levitz

Published 12:00 am Monday, November 20, 2000

Five years have gone by since millionaire socialite Jacqueline Levitz was last seen alive, but authorities say they are no closer to her whereabouts and her family believes she is dead.

“We have accepted the fact that she is gone,” said Tiki Shivers, Levitz’s sister. “We are handling it like the death of any other family member.”

The case that captured national attention has been under investigation by local and federal authorities since Nov. 20, 1995. Levitz, who was 62, was last seen Nov. 18, 1995.

The wife of late multimillionaire furniture magnate Ralph Levitz was declared missing after her brother-in-law went to her house on Riverwood Circle in Vicksburg after failing to reach her by phone.

Upon entering the home, signs of a struggle were found in her house overlooking the Mississippi River off Warrenton Road.

Authorities later found Levitz’s false fingernails in her bedroom along with a blood soaked mattress, which had been flipped to hide the stain. The bed sheets were never found.

A local search began and quickly intensified to a nationwide hunt, including air, ground and river searches.

Shivers, who was named conservator of Levitz’s property in Mississippi, said the house on Riverwood Circle was sold a couple of years ago.

Described by family and friends as outgoing and personable, Levitz moved to Vicksburg from Palm Beach about a month before her disappearance to be closer to family members living in Louisiana.

Despite the national spotlight and a $200,000 reward, no clues have been offered.

“I know there is no chance she is still alive,” said Shivers, who lives in Tallulah. “We are just trying to move on.”

Shivers said the passage of time has not helped to answer any of her family’s questions. “If anything, the further we get away from it the more questions there are,” she said. “I have no idea who did this to her.”

Warren County Sheriff Martin Pace, who was his department’s chief of detectives at the time Levitz disappeared, said results from blood and other tests are still not being released.

“We don’t want to release anything because if and, we hope, when a case goes to trial, it would be privileged information,” Pace said.

He said his office received leads on the Levitz case as recently as a few months ago.

“They didn’t go anywhere but we don’t discount any information we get,” Pace said.

Along with the Sheriff’s Department, Vicksburg Police and the FBI have worked the case.

“There have been hundreds and hundreds of interviews conducted by everybody involved,” Pace said. “It has been an exhaustive effort for the past five years.”

One week after Levitz disappeared, two Warren County men were arrested and charged with burglarizing Levitz’s riverfront home.

Both men were eventually cleared of any involvement in her disappearance.

“I wish there were something new going on in the case but there isn’t,” Shivers said.

About a year after Levitz disappeared, Palm Beach psychic Barbara Norcross, who said she was a friend of Levitz’s, said she felt her friend was dead.

That same year, she petitioned a Florida court to be named curator of Levitz’s estate.

Norcross said she wanted access to financial records that she said would show who killed Levitz. Her motion was denied.

Levitz, who was reared in northeast Louisiana, traveled the globe, eventually marrying Ralph Levitz founder of the Levitz Furniture chain. They were married in 1987, and he died in 1995, leaving the bulk of his estate to her.

Upon Levitz’s death, the principal of the estate was to be split between his two grandchildren.

In 1997, a Florida bank sought to have Levitz declared dead but dropped the motion for unknown reasons.

Florida law allows for a person missing for five years to be declared dead. In Mississippi, the law requires seven years.

Shivers said she expects the family to have Levitz declared dead in Florida sometime soon.

Levitz, an Oak Grove native, left behind a $4 million estate she amassed by buying, renovating and selling houses.

In addition to Shivers and seven other siblings, Levitz has a son by a previous marriage, Walter Bolton III of Clinton, Md., and a stepson in Coral Gables, Fla.

Shivers said hope lingers as long as her sister’s body isn’t found.

“There will never be full closure until we find something that can be identified as her remains and we can bury her,” Shivers said.