Peter Chadwick landed himself on the U.S. Marshals Service’s “15 Most Wanted” list after he killed his wife, faked his own kidnapping, faced charges, jumped bail and fled to Mexico. The California multimillionaire real estate investor spent more than four years on the lam as an international fugitive—sometimes in lavish hotels—before being captured.
All told, it took almost a decade after his wife’s 2012 murder for Chadwick to be brought to justice.
In 2022, he began serving a 15-year-to-life sentence for murdering Quee Choo Lim Chadwick, affectionately known as “Q.C.,” a stay-at-home mom who was found dead October 10, 2012 in the couple’s $2.5 million home in Newport Beach, California. She was 46; he was 49. They had three sons aged 8, 10 and 14 at the time.
Officials captured Chadwick in a residential community of American expatriates near Puebla, Mexico, in August 2019. He pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in February 2022. His plea deal requires him to serve at least 85 percent of his sentence before he’s eligible for a parole hearing.
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A $100,000 reward and a podcast produced by the Newport Beach Police Department prompted thousands of tips—one of which led to his whereabouts, police and U.S. Marshals Service officials said. He had numerous fake IDs when he was arrested, and had tried to fool investigators into thinking he’d fled to Canada, authorities said.
In court, a teary Chadwick said he was sorry about killing his wife, whom he called “a wonderful person.” “I destroyed everything,” he said, according to City News Service. “So, I deserve whatever the court decides.”
The Couple Vanishes
A native of Malaysia, Q.C. Chadwick emigrated to the United States in the late 1980s to attend Arizona State University, where she met her husband. The couple was married for 21 years.
Friends described her as a devoted mother who ensured her kids were getting good grades and were involved in sports and music. Initially dependent on her husband, Q.C. had started to become more confident and independent in recent years, her friends said.
The Orange County District’s Attorney said Q.C. was murdered “over a dispute regarding a possible divorce and related financial issues.”
Concern initially arose after two of the Chadwick children were seen waiting for their parents at a bus stop. Another student’s parent drove the children home and found it empty. That parent requested a welfare check from police, who found an open safe, blood and signs of a struggle.
The next day, Chadwick called 911 from San Diego, California, about 90 miles south of Newport Beach, to say that “Juan,” a man he’d hired for a paint job, had killed his wife. He also said the man had kidnapped him, forced him to put her body in the car, and drove to Mexico to dispose of it, authorities said.
San Diego police arrested Chadwick that same day, just north of the Mexico border, after authorities noticed dried blood on his hands and scratches on his neck. When detectives pressed him on inconsistencies in his story, he admitted that he’d made it all up. A week later, detectives said, a tip led them to find his wife’s body in a gas station dumpster in Wildcat Canyon, near San Diego.
The coroner’s office said Q.C. Chadwick suffered blunt force injuries and died by strangulation.
Newport Beach Police declined to answer questions from A&E True Crime, pointing to its podcast. The Orange County District Attorney’s Office and the U.S. Marshals Service didn’t respond to requests for comment.
Peter Chadwick Skips Bail
After his arrest in October 2012, Chadwick spent two months in jail before posting $1 million bail and being released.
In a 48 Hours interview, a friend of Q.C.’s called Chadwick’s behavior “shameless.” “He sent out an email inviting people to a 100-day vigil, candlelight vigil, at the home where he murdered her,” the friend said. “How can you kill your wife…throw her in a dumpster…and hold a candlelight vigil at the home where you killed her?”
Chadwick made court appearances for two years, then didn’t show up for court in January 2015. He’d been living with his father, but detectives were told he was no longer there.
“Nobody thought that he would flee from his sons,” Orange County prosecutor Matt Murphy told CBS. “He abandoned his family…he made his attorney look terrible, and…he thumbed his nose at the court and the justice system.”
Before jumping bail, Peter Chadwick had withdrawn $600,000 from a bank account and used aliases to stay at resorts, hotels and motels in Mexico. He had surrendered his American and British passports in 2012, police said.
His family later told investigators that he’d told them he was going to Seattle and left in a taxi. He went to the Santa Barbara airport, but then left there in another taxi wearing different clothing, bound for Mexico, authorities said.
A Searing Loss
Q.C.’s family has been caring for her three sons since their father’s arrest.
In a statement read in court in 2022, Q.C.’s sister described her as chatty, inquisitive and compassionate. Her sister said she’d never understand how Peter Chadwick could dump his wife’s body “as if she was a worthless piece of trash.”
“Family was the most important thing to her,” the sister’s statement said. “She would go to extraordinary lengths to do anything to help us. She looked after my family as I would hers. It was her who would initiate and spend countless hours planning our annual family reunions. We still feel her loss every year at these events, an emptiness that cannot be filled.”