PETER Chadwick seemed to have it all – millions in the bank, a thriving career and a happy family.
But he was hiding a secret – and in 2012, his perfect life crumbled forever.
The British-born property tycoon, who lived in California with his wife of 21 years, Quee Choo, and their three sons, was enjoying a double life with a string of lovers on the side.
That year, police believe his 46-year-old wife discovered the affairs – a discovery that would cost her life.
On the afternoon of October 10, the alarm was raised when two of the couple’s children were left waiting at their private school with no sign of their parents.
Police arrived at the family home to investigate, but the only trace of the Chadwicks they found was one towel covered in blood.
Immediately suspecting foul play, officers ramped up their search.
But the next day, they received a strange phone call from Mr Chadwick himself.During the call, the millionaire claimed he and his wife had been the victims of a violent home invasion carried out by a Mexican handyman who killed Ms Choo and forced him to drive with her body to the Mexican border.
Naturally, police were suspicious, and during a subsequent interview with Mr Chadwick they noticed a number of deep, bloody scratches on his neck and face.
A week later, Ms Choo’s body was found in a bin in San Diego, and a coroner confirmed she had been strangled.
Mr Chadwick was charged with her murder, with authorities noting he and his wife had fought about finances and discussed divorce.
In December 2012, Mr Chadwick was released on bail with a $1.8 million bond, and ordered to surrender his passport and move in with his parents as he awaited trial.
But on January 9, 2015, Mr Chadwick caught a taxi to the Santa Barbara airport where he changed clothes and six hours later, caught another taxi – and vanished.
He hasn’t been seen since, leaving his sons – who were aged nine, 12 and 15 at the time of their mother’s murder – as good as orphaned.
According to authorities, it appeared Mr Chadwick used the time following the murder to painstakingly research his disappearance, leaving behind books with titles such as How to Change Your Identity, How to Live on the Run Successfully and Surviving in Mexico.
Police say Mr Chadwick, who is the heir to a successful international property development business and who also made a fortune himself by investing in property in the US, could be “anywhere in the world” thanks to his vast wealth and resources.
But they are confident he will be caught and brought to justice, a feat they are hoping to achieve with a brand new weapon – a true crime podcast about Mr Chadwick, his wife’s murder and his brazen escape.
The newly-released, six-part Countdown to Capture podcast, inspired by the staggering popularity of other podcasts in the genre such as Serial and Dirty John, is hosted by Newport Beach police spokeswoman Jennifer Manzella, who said the killer could be walking among us.
“Technology can make the world a very small place, with very few places to hide,” Ms Manzella said.
“And that’s why we want this podcast to reach as many people as possible. Please consider sharing it, tell you friends about it, no matter where you are in the world.
“Because Peter Chadwick, he really could be anywhere.”
– US authorities are offering an $AU141,455 reward for Mr Chadwick’s capture.
– If you have any information about the fugitive or his whereabouts, email firstname.lastname@example.org.