Dogs Search Wooded Area For Wealthy Widow’s Body $10,000 Reward Offered In Case Treated As Homicide

Dogs were put to work Saturday searching a wooded area for the body of a millionaire missing for a week from her bloodied home.

And the family of missing Jacqueline Levitz offered a $10,000 reward for information leading to any arrests in what is now being treated as a homicide.

Levitz, 62, was last seen alive on Nov. 18, buying wallpaper for the house she had bought after moving from Palm Beach, Fla., last month. On Monday, a relative found the door to her house open. There was blood on a bedroom carpet and police found her mattress soaked with blood.

Warren County Sheriff Paul Barrett said the reward was posted by the Levitz family after Friday’s helicopter search of the area around Levitz’s home, on a bluff overlooking the Mississippi River, turned up nothing.

Barrett and Vicksburg police chief Robert Dowe Jr. said investigators were retracing her steps over the past several weeks. Dowe said police officers will resume questioning construction workers and contractors who were hired to remodel the house Levitz bought.

“We’re just continuing to go through the very meticulous process of investigating every construction worker who was on the site. It’s a very detailed process,” said sheriff’s investigator Martin Pace. “We have to follow every tidbit.”

Earlier searches turned up nothing along roads in the county.

In addition to Saturday’s search with dogs in the wooded area near the house, Barrett and Dowe said foot patrols would search an area near the river Sunday.

Friday’s air search included areas 20 miles south of Vicksburg and across the mile-wide Mississippi into neighboring Louisiana.

“It’s unusual that we haven’t found anything,” Dowe said.

Dowe and Barrett are scheduled to meet Monday with FBI agents about the case.

The blood found in the house was being analyzed at the State Crime Lab, Barrett said. The lab was closed for the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.

Barrett said he was pleased that the reward was being offered.

“If we can get it high enough and enough people know about it, we’ll solve this case,” he said.

Levitz is the widow of millionaire Ralph Levitz, who built his Levitz Furniture company into a chain with stores in more than 20 states. He died in March and left his wife the bulk of his fortune, estimated in excess of $15 million.

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