Mystery of the millionaire who allegedly murdered his wife and vanished three years ago continues to baffle police

Peter Chadwick allegedly strangled his wife Quee Choo to death in 2012 and was initially arrested. However, he was granted a £1 million bond later and made his escape in 2015


                            Mystery of the millionaire who allegedly murdered his wife and vanished three years ago continues to baffle police

After much resistance, detectives in California have finally agreed to approve the production of a podcast that they hope will result in the capture of British millionaire and real estate investor Peter Chadwick. The 54-year-old, who was accused of murdering his 46-year-old Malaysian wife Quee Choo and was out on bail, fled one day before he was due to make his 14th appearance in court in 2015, and has not been seen since. 

Officials have announced that the millionaire will be the subject of a six-part online series called 'Countdown to Capture' which will be hosted and produced by Jennifer Manzella, who works at the Newport Beach Police information office. Each episode will be 15-minutes long and will air in the next two weeks, detailing the 2012 murder, as well as the events that followed.

Chadwick ran away in 2015 (Source: Countdown To Capture)
Chadwick ran away in 2015 (Source: Countdown To Capture)

The murder took place at the couple's Newport Coast home where they lived with their three sons in one of Orange County's wealthiest communities. According to the Mirror, Chadwick, who was the heir to an international property development business, worked while Choo was a stay-at-home mom. The two had been together for 21 years, though there were said to be problems brewing within the family in the months leading up to the murder.

The tensions reportedly stemmed from their contrasting personalities: Choo, although kind and hospitable, was a disciplinarian while Chadwick was described as "docile" and "extremely quiet". Furthermore, Chadwick was having several affairs while away on his trips, a fact that was then discovered by Choo. 



Things must have come to a head on October 10, 2012, the day of the murder. Neither picked up their sons from school, worrying friends and relatives, and police were called to the home to investigate. While the residence was empty, the officials did find signs of a struggle in the master bedroom and a bloody towel, leaving authorities fearing the worst: that both parents had been murdered.

However, Chadwick would make contact the next day at dawn, claiming he was near the Mexican border in San Diego after a handyman called "Juan" broke into his house, kidnapped him and drove him there. An affidavit stated how the 54-year-old also said that Juan had tried to force him into dumping Choo's body across the border.

It soon became apparent that Chadwick's story did not hold up to scrutiny. During his interviews with detectives, officials noticed he had dried blood on his hands and scratches on his neck, and the millionaire refused to answer their questions. And when his wife's fully-clothed body was discovered a week later in a small suburb in San Diego County, a coroner concluded she had been strangled. 

He was charged with murder — something he reportedly confessed to while in jail, according to police records — and initially held without bail, though he would walk free after posting a £1million bond in December 2012 and go on to live with his dad in Santa Barbara. As a condition of his release, he had to surrender his passports, though that did not deter him from making his eventual escape three years later.

Chadwick reportedly confessed to the murder while in prison (Source: Countdown to Capture)
Chadwick reportedly confessed to the murder while in prison (Source: Countdown to Capture)

Pacific Southwest Regional Fugitive Task Force's Craig McCluskey stated that the 54-year-old made his escape through the Santa Barbara Airport on January 9, 2015, a fact that is corroborated by surveillance video. It shows Chadwick entering the terminal, changing his clothes, and then six hours later, hailing a taxi and disappearing.

According to court papers, he emptied his bank account of millions before running and studied published manuals on how to live off the grid — authorities say he left behind books such as 'How to Change Your Identity', 'How to Live on the Run Successfully' and 'Surviving in Mexico'. He had also allegedly informed his sons that he planned to flee on foot across the Canadian or Mexican border and then find low paid jobs so he could blend into his new surroundings successfully. 



Chadwick is now one of America's most wanted fugitives, with an Orange County judge issuing a $5 million arrest warrant for his capture. Authorities hope that the podcast will aid their efforts to capture him. "Peter could be anywhere in the world. He's got the financial means to avoid the restrictions placed on his travel," said Newport County Police Chief Jon Lewis. "He has taken every opportunity to hide his tracks. We want to spread his picture and story of his crimes far and wide. I'm confident that together we will spread the word until Peter Chadwick has nowhere else to hide."

The Chadwicks' home (Newport Beach Police Department)
The Chadwicks' home (Newport Beach Police Department)

Manzella hopes the podcast will lead to Chadwick being apprehended as well. "The goal is absolutely to find Peter Chadwick," she said. "It’s not meant to have any role other than to spread the word that we’re still looking for him, and we want to get his face in front of as many eyes as possible."

"He literally could be anywhere in the world. He has the resources, cash, and know-how to get wherever he wants to be, so we needed to reach an international audience," she continued. "The world can become a very small place once you get technology and the internet involved."