A source says a Newport Coast man's claim that someone else killed his wife and forced him to take her body to the Mexican border doesn't add up because no one else was seen in his car, even by a CHP officer who tailed his car at one point.
Peter Gregory Chadwick, 48, pleaded not guilty Monday to a single count of murder for financial gain. He remains jailed on $1.5-million bail.
Prosecutors say Chadwick, a wealthy business executive who lived in a $2.5-million home along the exclusive Newport Coast, killed his wife Wednesday as they fought over a possible divorce and related financial issues.
Quee “Q.C.” Chadwick, 46, vanished about the same time, authorities said. Her body has not been located. A source close to the investigation but not authorized to speak publicly said Chadwick offered a different story when he was taken into custody in San Diego, not far from the border.
The businessman pinned the slaying on someone else and said he’d been forced to load his wife’s body into a truck and then drive south in his own champagne-colored Lexus SUV, the source said.
But, the source said, Chadwick's story doesn’t add up because Newport Beach detectives have evidence that nobody else was seen in his car, and that even a CHP officer-–who happened by chance to tail Chadwick’s car at one point--said there was no passenger in his vehicle.
The source said detectives found signs of a bloody struggle in one of the home’s bathrooms. The investigation has rattled the Newport Coast, a tiny enclave of sprawling homes with spectacular ocean views that has appealed to celebrities like Kobe Bryant.
Yulianna Nikulina, who lives next to the Chadwick residence, said she was home the day of the suspected slaying and didn't hear anything. But earlier in the week, perhaps Monday or Tuesday, she said she heard Quee Chadwick scream about 6:30 a.m. or 7 a.m. But she dismissed it as just an expression of momentary frustration, possibly from getting their three children ready for school.
Normally the family is quiet and polite, and she didn't recall ever hearing fighting or yelling from the home.
This story was reported by Lauren Williams and Times Staff Writer Richard Winton.