Politics

California multimillionaire who killed wife, fled to Mexico sentenced after guilty plea



A Southern California multimillionaire who killed his wife nearly a decade ago before fleeing to Mexico pleaded guilty this week to second-degree murder and was sentenced.

Newport Beach resident Peter Chadwick, 57, was sentenced to 15 years to life — the equivalent of a life sentence with the possibility of parole — with no credit for time served, as part of a deal that downgraded his case from first-degree murder, the office of the Orange County District Attorney said.

Chadwick killed his wife, Quee Choo “Q.C.” Chadwick, likely on Oct. 10, 2012, following an argument over a possible divorce and financial matters, the office said.

The couple were raising three children.

Police said the Quee Choo was strangled and drowned in a bathroom of their home before her body, wrapped in a comforter, was dumped in a trash bin in San Diego County, the next county south of the Chadwicks’ home.

On Oct. 10, 2012, when the nobody from the household showed up to pick up their children at school, police conducted a welfare check at the Newport Beach residents, happened upon blood and evidence of a struggle, and launched a search for the pair, authorities said.

Chadwick, a real estate investor, was near the U.S.-Mexico border when he called 911 to claim his wife had been killed by a handyman, and, as part of the crime, he was kidnapped and forced to drive to Mexico to dump her body, prosecutors said.

His story wasn’t convincing, he led authorities to the body, and was arrested Oct. 11, 2012, and jailed in San Diego, prosecutors said.

On Dec. 21 of that year, Chadwick posted bond, surrendered his U.S. and U.K. passports, and agreed to stay with his father. It was the last time U.S. authorities would see him for nearly seven years. He failed to appear at a pre-trial hearing in 2015.

Prosecutors believe Chadwick left false clues on his whereabouts in his father’s Santa Barbara home. They included receipts from the Seattle area and printed material about life in Canada.

His trail actually led to Mexico, authorities said. The district attorney’s office said it was believed he was “receiving assistance” from supporters, however, no one has been charged for aiding and abetting a fugitive in connection with the case.

In September 2018, while Chadwick was apparently hiding in Mexico, the U.S. Marshals Service placed him on its 15 Most Wanted Fugitives list and offered a $25,000 reward for information leading to his arrest.

The case received global attention, and the Newport Beach Police Department launched a podcast, “Countdown to Capture,” dedicated to finding Chadwick.

Chadwick was nabbed by Mexican authorities Aug. 4, 2019, near the city of Puebla, prosecutors said.

His lawyer did not immediately respond to a request Saturday for comment.

District Attorney Todd Spitzer noted in a statement Wednesday that the case has taken the better part of 10 years to resolve, including hard work by police and federal authorities tracking down Chadwick.

The time was invested “to hold him accountable for the murder of his wife and the mother of his three sons,” Spitzer said.

“In making the decision to accept a guilty plea,” he continued, “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.”



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