On a 147-week run from state officials after violating a $2 million pre-trial bond for the alleged murder of his wife in one of Orange County’s wealthiest, gated communities, Peter Chadwick now faces a federal charge if he’s ever captured alive: unlawful flight to avoid prosecution.
In a criminal complaint filed inside the Ronald Reagan Federal Courthouse in Santa Ana, Craig McCluskey, a supervisory inspector with the U.S. Marshals Service, says Chadwick studied published manuals on how to live off the grid, read related Internet stories, emptied bank accounts of millions of dollars, tossed his cell phone in a trash can and disappeared after missing several court dates.
Though he’d been forced to surrender his U.S. and British passports following his arrest for the October 2012 murder of Quee Choo Lim Chadwick in their Newport Coast home overlooking the Pacific Ocean, the fugitive, who’d been staying with his father in Santa Barbara awaiting trial, told one of his sons he planned to flee on foot across either the Canadian or Mexican border and then find menial jobs to blend into a new locale, according to McCluskey.
Department of Homeland Security records show Chadwick frequently visited China, Malaysia, Canada and Thailand prior to the murder.
Prosecutors inside the Orange County district attorney’s office (OCDA) charged him with murder and hoped to win a life imprisonment punishment after he drove to San Diego, dumped his wife’s body in a gas station trash dumpster and then called police to claim he’d been kidnapped by a handyman who’d killed his wife in their master bedroom.
Authorities immediately rejected his tale, in part, because of the scratches on his neck and dried blood on his hands as well as the fact there was no evidence of the mysterious handyman.
Newport Beach Police Department records indicate Chadwick, a real estate mogul, ultimately confessed inside a San Diego jail that he killed his wife of 21 years.
At the time, the couple had three young sons.
According to McCluskey, who serves on the Pacific Southwest Regional Fugitive Task Force which targets the capture of violent offenders for the U.S. Marshals Service, the accused killer attempted to cover his tracks by hailing a taxi to the Santa Barbara Airport at 11:35 a.m. on Jan. 9, 2015.
Once inside the facility, Chadwick changed clothes and, six hours later, used a second taxi to disappear.
Airport surveillance video studied by investigators revealed the trickery.
R. Scott Moxley has won Journalist of the Year honors at the Los Angeles Press Club; been named Distinguished Journalist of the Year by the LA Society of Professional Journalists; and hailed by two New York Times Magazine writers for his “herculean job” exposing Southern California law enforcement corruption.