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Peter Chadwick, millionaire charged with wife's death, faces 25 years to life

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Accused killer Peter Chadwick captured
Accused killer Peter Chadwick captured after years-long international manhunt 02:54

A millionaire fugitive charged with killing his wife in California spent the past four years in Mexico until intense media coverage led to hundreds of tips and eventually his capture, officials said Tuesday. Peter Chadwick was detained Sunday near an area of Puebla, Mexico popular with expats by Mexican authorities.

"48 Hours" put a spotlight on the international manhunt in May in #FindPeterChadwick.

The 54-year-old was flown to California on Monday, Newport Beach police Chief Jon Lewis said in a news conference. "We believe Peter Chadwick has been in Mexico since his disappearance," Lewis said.

Lewis said the real estate investor charged with strangling his wife in 2012 stayed in high-end resorts and hotels until they required a passport. Chadwick, who had several fake IDs, then moved to more modest hostels and worked odd jobs to generate cash, he said. Chadwick was also known by a handful of fake names, including Paul Cook, Paul Craig and John Franklin.

Chadwick left leads for law enforcement to make it look like he fled to Canada, where his father was living, after he skipped a court appearance in 2015 while he was out on $1 million bail, said U.S. Marshal David Singer.

Newport Beach police wrote and produced a six-episode "true crime" podcast last year titled "Countdown to Capture" about the case in the hopes of intensifying the search for Chadwick.

Peter Chadwick to 911: "My wife's dead ... They took her!" 02:38

Authorities have said Chadwick called 911 a day after his wife, Quee Choo Chadwick, disappeared from their home and said she was killed by a handyman who kidnapped him. He quickly became the suspect, however, and her body was found a week later in a trash bin in suburban San Diego.

"Her husband didn't treat her with dignity and respect at all. He took her from paradise, this most amazing place in Orange County and after 21 years of marriage he discarded her body in this dumpster," Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer said while holding up photos of the dumpster where Quee's body was found and an image of the Chadwick's Newport Beach home.

Chadwick was born in the United Kingdom and became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1991. Authorities said both his U.S. and U.K. passports were seized when he was released on bail.

When he went missing, authorities learned he had emptied millions from bank accounts and said they discovered books he had allegedly read about changing one's identity and living off the grid.

Chadwick was expected to appear in court in Santa Ana on Wednesday. Orange County prosecutors are asking that he be held without bail. Spitzer declined to list charges against Chadwick but says he faces "25 years to life as presently charged."

"48 Hours" and correspondent Tracy Smith will have the latest in the case Saturday at 10 p.m./ 9 p.m. CT on CBS.

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