The international hunt for a multi-millionaire fugitive accused of murdering his wife took a rare twist Wednesday as federal law enforcement officials turned to Asian sex workers, offering them $100,000 to turn the wanted man in.
Peter Chadwick was added to the U.S. Marshals Service list of America’s 15 Most Wanted Fugitives, according to a news release by the service. The 54-year-old is wanted by police in Newport Beach, California for allegedly strangling his wife, Quee Choo Lim Chadwick, to death in 2012.
While he could be anywhere in the world, the Marshals Service believes Chadwick is in an Asian country, according to Craig McCluskey, supervisory inspector for the Marshals Service Pacific Southwest Regional Fugitive Task Force.
“He favors Asian countries. He’s frequented that part of the world several times,” McCluskey told Oxygen.com, specifying China, Malaysia and Thailand. He also observed that Chadwick's wife was Malaysian.
Not only does Chadwick favor Asian countries, he favors Asian sex workers too: “He has a flavor for Asian prostitutes," McCluskey said.
Noting the $100,000 reward the Marshals Service is offering for specific, reliable information that leads to Chadwick’s capture, “we figure that some of them in the circles he’s known to run in may be enticed by that to give us call and let us now where he is,” McCluskey said.
“$100,000 will convince a lot of people to make that phone call.”
The Chadwicks disappeared after lunch on Oct. 10, 2012, according to a podcast news release detailing the case published by the Newport Beach Police Department. That afternoon, when no one picked up the couple's three children at school, another parent called police and requested a welfare check on the couple.
Police searched the Chadwick’s multi-million dollar home in a gated community and discovered “blood and signs of a struggle inside” and began searching for the couple, McCluskey, said.
Early next morning, Chadwick called San Diego police and said he needed help on a nearby freeway, four miles from the Mexican border. He told them his wife had been kidnapped and killed “by a man who he had invited to their home to give an estimate for interior painting services,” McCluskey said.
But police noted scratches on his neck and dried blood on Chadwick’s hands, and the details he provided “were proven to be lies,” according to McCluskey.
“They were defensive wounds, basically,” he said.
Later, Chadwick admitted to police that he “made up the story about the handyman killing his wife,” McCluskey said, and police found her body in a trash bin in Lakeside, a small suburb in San Diego County.
Local law enforcement officials accused Chadwick of killing Quee Choo Lim “in their Newport Beach home over a dispute regarding a possible divorce and related financial issues," according to a news release by Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas.
Chadwick was released on $1.5 bond awaiting trial and he moved in with his father, described by police as a “wealthy investor,” in Santa Barbara. But he skipped a required court hearing in the case on Jan. 5, 2015 and disappeared, police say.
Prior to leaving, Chadwick “probed the Canadian border on both the east and west coasts,” McCluskey said.
He also reviewed several books with titles of particular interest to a person contemplating a life on the run, authorities say. A search of his residence after he took flight revealed books with titles including “How to Change Your Identity,” “How to Live on the Run Successfully,” and “Surviving in Mexico, " said McCluskey.
Then, just before he left, Chadwick cleaned out his seven bank accounts, and “took cash advances on at least seven credit cards that he had,” McCluskey says. All told, Chadwick disappeared with about $2 million. But, McCluskey quickly added, Chadwick had several offshore bank accounts, so the amount he had access to was probably signiicantly greater.
Chadwick's son also confirmed that his father had "a large sum of money at his disposal and would establish himself in a foreign country by obtaining a place to live and getting a menial job," according to Mccluskey.
The son also told police his father had been planning to flee since Nov. 2014, and that he planned "to exit the United States via the Mexico or Canadian international borders, by driving there and walking across," McCluskey said.
“The U.S. Marshals along with our law enforcement partners will leave no stone unturned until Chadwick is behind bars,” said Commander Bert Tapia of the U.S. Marshals Pacific Southwest Regional Fugitive Task Force. “It’s not a matter of if we catch him, it’s only a matter of when.”
[Photo: U.S. Marshals Service]