Author stays hidden for nearly a month while internet sleuths work to bring him out of the shadows

After being hunted by thousands of people for about a month, it was Evan Ratliff's need for gluten-free pizza that did him in

Author intentionally disappears; sets off online challenge to find him

Last Updated May 11, 2019 11:23 PM EDT

In August 2009, author Evan Ratliff dropped everything in his life and disappeared -- but not because he's a criminal.  Ratliff teamed up with Wired Magazine and put a $5,000 bounty on his head to see if anyone could track him down. 

For close to a month, thousands of people searched for Ratliff as he traveled all over the country and disguised his appearance. 

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Just a few of Evan Ratliff's many disguises  Evan Ratliff

Web sleuths uncovered everything about Ratliff: from his signature to his medical history. Using Ratliff's IP address and figuring out his secret online identity, they were able to discover that he was hiding in New Orleans. 

Knowing that Ratliff has a gluten allergy, the sleuths tipped off the owner of the only local pizzeria that served gluten-free pizza. The owner of the pizzeria agreed to help the sleuths and even enlisted his delivery staff to be on the lookout.  

Sure enough, Ratliff was caught red-handed. In the end, the pizzeria's owner got the $5,000 reward and Ratliff got a free gluten-free pizza.

Ratliff shares his story with correspondent Tracy Smith as part of "48 Hours"' investigation into the disappearance of Peter Chadwick -- a California multimillionaire accused of killing his wife, Q.C. Chadwick, and staging a kidnapping in 2012. Chadwick jumped bail and is among the U.S. Marshal Service's 15 most wanted.

HAVE YOU SEEN PETER CHADWICK?

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Have you seen Peter Chadwick? Newport Beach Police Dept.

Anyone with information is asked to call 1-800-336-0102 or submit a tip online at http://www.usmarshals.gov/tips

Newport Beach Police Department 1-800-NBPD [6273] or email: tips@nbpd.org