O.C. multimillionaire who spent years on the run pleads guilty in wife’s 2012 slaying
An Orange County multimillionaire who led investigators on a years-long manhunt after being charged with his wife’s slaying pleaded guilty Wednesday to second-degree murder and was sentenced to 15 years to life in state prison.
Peter Chadwick, 57, strangled and drowned his wife — 46-year-old Quee Choo Chadwick — in the bathroom of their Newport Beach home on Oct. 10, 2012, according to prosecutors. Police said he wrapped her in a comforter and dumped her body in a trash bin in San Diego County.
The couple had been fighting over a possible divorce and related financial issues.
Chadwick choked up as he entered a guilty plea in Orange County Superior Court in Santa Ana. As part of the plea agreement with prosecutors, Chadwick will not receive any credit toward his prison sentence for time he has served in county jail while awaiting trial. Before the plea deal, he had faced 25 years to life in prison if convicted.
“I just want to express that I am truly sorry,” Chadwick said during the hearing. He added that he hoped his sons, who are now adults, and his wife’s family can “somehow carry on remembering what kind of a person she was. Such a great person, so loving, and she cared for everyone.”
Chadwick’s attorney, Robert Sanger, could not immediately be reached for comment.
Cops made a crime podcast to capture Peter Chadwick. And it worked.
The investigation into Quee Choo’s death in 2012 started with a missing persons report from a neighbor, who noticed the couple’s sons standing at a bus stop waiting to be picked up after school.
When investigators entered the family’s home hours later, they found a decorative vase broken near the bathtub and tiny droplets of blood splattered on the bathroom wall. The home’s safe had also been emptied, police said.
A day later, Chadwick called 911 from a gas station in San Diego County to report that his wife had been killed. Chadwick claimed that someone else had killed his wife and forced him to load her body into a car and drive to the U.S.-Mexico border. He later admitted to investigators that he made up the story, authorities said.
Chadwick was released on $1-million bail shortly after his arrest and agreed to live with his father in Santa Barbara as he awaited trial. He surrendered his British and American passports, and showed up to hearings for two years before authorities discovered he had vanished in January 2015.
Authorities suspected that, even without passports, Chadwick probably had been able to leave the country.
Investigators discovered several books in his home detailing how someone could change their identity and live on the run. Chadwick also emptied millions from his bank accounts and took cash advances on his credit cards before he disappeared, police said. His sons remained in the United States and were raised by family members.
The years-long manhunt took investigators across the United States, Canada and Mexico and earned Chadwick a spot on the U.S. Marshals Service’s 15 Most Wanted fugitive list. In 2018, Newport Beach police officials released a true-crime podcast, “Countdown to Capture,” and announced a reward that investigators hoped would drum up interest in the case and lead to Chadwick’s arrest.
Investigators got a break in the case when they learned Chadwick was receiving assistance from people close to his family. That led them to Mexico, where Chadwick was found in August 2019 in a residential duplex in a community of U.S. expatriates near Puebla.
“It took years of painstaking police work to track down this defendant in order to hold him accountable for the murder of his wife and the mother of his three sons,” Dist. Atty. Todd Spitzer wrote in a prepared statement. “In making the decision to accept a guilty plea, we carefully considered the wishes of Q.C.’s family, especially her sons who have already suffered the loss not only of their mother but also of their father at such a young age.”
City News Service contributed to this report.
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