An Orange County judge has increased an arrest warrant to $5 million for a missing businessman accused of killing his wife at their Newport Coast home.
Peter Gregory Chadwick, 50, disappeared last month while free on $1-million bail.
Prosecutors said they believe that Chadwick is either on the run or killed himself. If Chadwick is found alive, he would have to pay $5 million to avoid arrest for missing court dates.
Chadwick's lawyer, Robert Sanger, said that he hasn't spoken to his client since before a Jan. 28 hearing in which a judge issued the original $1-million warrant.
According to prosecutors, Chadwick killed Quee "Q.C." Chadwick, 46, and dumped her body in a trash bin in San Diego County.
Officials arrested him near the Mexico border in October 2012, a day after police found signs of a struggle at the Chadwick home in Newport Coast. A neighbor had called police after nobody picked up the couple's children after school.
Chadwick claimed that someone else killed his wife and forced him to load the body into a car and drive to the border.
On Wednesday, Orange County Superior Court Judge Robert Gannon left open the option of boosting the warrant to $10 million, as prosecutors requested.
"We will continue to seek the defendant," Sanger told the judge.
Authorities also are searching for Chadwick.
Chadwick originally was held without bail, but he was allowed to go free on $1-million bond after prosecutors dropped an allegation that the killing was for financial gain.