SANTA ANA (CBSLA) — A 54-year-old Newport Beach man suspected of killing his wife back in 2012 spent four years hiding out in Mexico – using aliases and fake IDs -- before being captured, authorities said Tuesday.
Peter Chadwick, a multimillionaire real estate investor, was apprehended Sunday by Mexican police at a duplex in the Mexican city of Puebla, in an area where many expatriates reside, the Orange County District Attorney's Office announced in a news conference Tuesday.
He was captured after U.S. law enforcement received a tip about a week ago, prosecutors said.
He was flown to Los Angeles International Airport Monday morning and later booked into the Orange County jail.
Chadwick is charged with first degree murder, accused of killing his wife of 21 years, 46-year-old Quee Chadwick, in their Newport Coast home on Oct. 10, 2012, following an argument, while the couple's three sons were at school. Police say he then dumped her body in a dumpster in rural San Diego County.
He was arrested after driving to San Diego and then calling police near the U.S.-Mexico border the following day. Her body was not discovered until about eight days after the murder, on Oct. 18, 2012.
Chadwick, however, was charged with her murder before her body was even found because Newport Beach police detectives found found blood and signs of a struggle inside the couples' upscale home, along with injuries on Chadwick's body showing signs that he had been involved in a fight.
Chadwick and his wife had been discussing the possibility of divorce at the time of her murder, officials said. Police were alerted to her disappearance after she failed to pick her three children up from school.
Chadwick initially pleaded not guilty to murder, claiming his wife was kidnapped and killed by a house painter.
In December of 2012, while awaiting trial, Chadwick was released on $1 million bail and ordered to live with his father in Santa Barbara. However, in January 2015, after failing to show for a pre-trial hearing, investigators discovered he had withdrawn millions of dollars from his bank accounts and disappeared. Since that time, he had been on the US Marshals 15 Most Wanted list.
On Tuesday, prosecutors explained that he spent four years in Mexico, living in hotels and resorts under several aliases and using fake IDs.
In September of 2018, the US Marshals Service announced a $100,000 reward for information leading to Chadwick's arrest. As the media attention on the case grew as a result, he became stressed and changed his habits.
"As he felt pressure from all the media attention, social media attention, that he kind of went more underground so to speak," U.S. Marshal David Singer told CBS2. "In most hotels, you have to have a passport or ID. He didn't have it. So I think he went under. Plus, he was getting word of all this media attention. So I think he went more underground, which was more uncomfortable."
Prosecutors say he tried to throw investigators off by leaving behind receipts and a book about living in Canada.
Chadwick faces 25 years to life in prison if convicted. He is scheduled to appear in O.C. Superior Court Wednesday, where prosecutors will ask he be held on no bail in light of his history.
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