LOS ANGELES — A California millionaire who became one of America's 15 most wanted fugitives in 2015 after he was charged in the death of his wife was arrested late Sunday in Mexico and is now in the hands of U.S. authorities, according to law enforcement sources familiar with the investigation.
Peter Chadwick had been charged in the death of his wife Quee, also known as Q.C., at their Newport Beach home in October 2012. He called 911 from the Mexican border to claim that his wife had been killed by a handyman, and that he was kidnapped and forced to drive to Mexico to dump her body, said prosecutors.
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Her body was found in a trash bin in San Diego County.
He was released on a $1.5 million bond, and surrendered his British and American passports and agreed to live with his father, "a wealthy investor," in Santa Barbara as he awaited trial.
When he failed to appear for a Jan. 5, 2015 court hearing, Newport Beach detectives went to his father's home. They were told the defendant was not living there and no one knew where he was, according to a statement from the U.S. Marshals Service.
A fugitive task force found his bank accounts worth millions of dollars had been cleared out. Investigators also learned of books that Chadwick had read about how to change identities.
The U.S. Marshals Service placed him on its 15 Most Wanted Fugitives list and offered a $25,000 reward for information leading directly to his arrest.
The Newport Beach Police Department created a podcast called "Countdown to Capture" to aid in the search, and joined with private donors to offer a separate $75,000 for information leading to his capture.
Andrew Blankstein is an investigative reporter for NBC News. He covers the Western United States, specializing in crime, courts and homeland security.