Skip to main content

California Millionaire Who ‘Barbarically’ Killed Wife, Dumped Body in Trash, Then Went on the Run for Years Pleads Guilty

Peter Chadwick

Peter Chadwick

A multimillionaire in California who killed his wife inside their lavish home, blamed the slaying on a fictitious handyman, and then skipped bail and went on the lam for several years will finally be going to prison nearly a decade after committing the brutal crime.

Peter Chadwick, 57, pleaded guilty on Wednesday to second-degree murder for strangling and drowning his wife, Quee Choo, 46, and was sentenced to 15 years to life in prison, San Diego NBC affiliate KNSD reported.

Chadwick reportedly addressed the court prior to being formally sentenced and apologized to Choo’s family, reportedly referring to his slain wife as a “wonderful person.”

“I just want to express that I am truly sorry,” Chadwick said. “I destroyed everything. So I deserve whatever the court decides.”

In a written statement read by prosecutors, Choo’s sister reportedly said she would never understand how Chadwick was “so barbarically able to dump [Choo’s] body as if she was a worthless piece of trash.”

Chadwick’s attorneys and prosecutors reportedly agreed to the terms of the plea agreement prior to the hearing. Under the terms of the deal, Chadwick will reportedly be required to serve at least 85-percent, or 12 years and 9 months, before being eligible for parole.

According to the report, Chadwick and Choo on the morning of Oct. 12, 2012 got into an argument over financial issues and possibly getting a divorce. The argument escalated into a physical altercation that resulted in Chadwick killing Choo in the bathroom of their Newport Beach home.

Authorities say Chadwick then wrapped Choo’s body in a blanket, loaded it in his car, and dumped the body in a dumpster outside of a San Diego County gas station.

Investigators were tipped off later that day, when neither Chadwick nor Choo showed to pick up their kids, then ages 8, 10, and 14, from the bus stop after school. A neighbor drove them home and requested a welfare check when neither parent could be found. Investigators entered the home and saw signs of a struggle, including broken furniture and blood spatter on the wall of the bathroom. A safe in the home also appeared to have been emptied, per the Los Angeles Times.

The following day, Chadwick reportedly called 911 from somewhere in San Diego County and told a dispatcher that a handyman in his employ had murdered his wife, forced him to put her body in a car, and was now making him drive to Mexico to dump the remains.

Officers with the San Diego Police Department found and arrested Chadwick a few miles north of the U.S.-Mexico border a few hours later. Police noted there were scratches on his neck and dried blood on his hands that were indicative of a struggle, KNSD reported.

During an interview with investigators, Chadwick reportedly admitted that he made up the story about the handyman killing his wife and kidnapping him. Police found Choo’s body shortly thereafter and Chadwick was booked and processed. A judge ordered him held on $1 million bond.

Chadwick posted bond and was released on Dec. 21, 2012. Per a court order, he reportedly surrendered his U.S. and British passports and went to live with his father in Santa Barbara. When he failed to show up at a hearing in January, police raided his father’s home and discovered multiple books about changing one’s identity. Investigators soon discovered that he’d emptied millions from his bank accounts.

He was found living in Mexico in August 2019 after a podcast about Choo’s murder renewed public interest in the case and reportedly led to hundreds of tips about Chadwick’s whereabouts.

[image via San Diego County Sheriff’s Office]

Have a tip we should know? [email protected]

Filed Under:

Follow Law&Crime:

Jerry Lambe is a journalist at Law&Crime. He is a graduate of Georgetown University and New York Law School and previously worked in financial securities compliance and Civil Rights employment law.