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Manhunt for the millionaire who strangled his wife and then used cash to disappear; U.S COPS MAKE PODCAST TO SNARE FUGITIVE; EXCLUSIVE.

Byline: CHRISTOPHER BUCKTIN

To the outside world, British property tycoon Peter Chadwick and his family had a perfect life in a PS2million mansion in the US overlooking the ocean.

But the facade was brought crashing down when his wife Quee Choo, 46, was strangled to death and Chadwick was charged with her murder.

Days before he was due to make his 14th appearance in court, the millionaire - who was on bail - vanished in January 2015. He has not been seen since and is still one of America's most wanted fugitives.

Now, in an unprecedented twist, detectives in California have embraced a ploy they had spent years refusing to consider - the podcast.

Officers have made Chadwick the subject of a six-part online series - including a truly bizarre call he made to police - to intensify the global manhunt to bring him to justice.

Police chief Jon Lewis said: "Peter could be anywhere in the world. He's got the financial means to avoid the restrictions placed on his travel.

"He has taken every opportunity to hide his tracks.

"We want to spread his picture and the story of his crimes far and wide.

"I'm confident that together we will spread the word until Peter Chadwick has nowhere else to hide."

The 15-minute episodes, which Chief Lewis called an exciting project, will be released over the next two weeks, detailing Quee Choo's death in 2012 and what happened afterwards.

After becoming a naturalised US citizen in 1991, Chadwick worked as a hugely successful property investor.

He provided his wife and their three sons with a life of luxury in their Newport Coast home in one of Orange County's wealthiest communities.

While Chadwick, who was the heir to an international property development business, worked, his wife - a Malaysia native known as QC - was a stay-at-home mum.

According to friends, they appeared like a perfect, quiet couple and had been married for 21 years.

But behind closed doors, there were simmering tensions.

Quee Choo, while hospitable and kind, ran the household with military precision, writing out instructions and schedules for her husband and kids.

By contrast, Chadwick, 54, seemed to be "docile" and "extremely quiet", according to neighbours.

But away from home, he was leading a double life, having several affairs which Quee Choo discovered.

On October 10, 2012, when friends and relatives became worried that neither parent had arrived to pick up their boys from school, police were called to the home.

Nobody was there but officers found signs of a struggle in the master bedroom, and a bloody towel.

Police suspected one or both Chadwicks had become the victims of a crime, possibly murder.

Officers found QC's phone was on charge, with her wedding ring nearby.

As police prepared to go through the house looking for more clues, Chadwick surfaced.

Shortly before dawn on October 11, he phoned police and said he was near the Mexican border in San Diego - 100 miles from the family home.

He told them: "The guy broke into my house. He drove me here.

"He had a friend. They, they just gone, they've gone in a pickup truck." According to a federal affidavit, he later told police the handyman called "Juan" had kidnapped him and tried to force him to drive to Mexico to dump his wife's body.

Officers did not buy the story. In a subsequent interview, detectives noticed scratches on Chadwick's neck and dried blood on his hands. But he refused to answer their questions.

Detectives discovered Quee Choo's fully clothed body a week later in a skip in Lakeside, a small suburb in San Diego County. The coroner concluded she had been strangled.

Prosecutors charged Chadwick with murder. Authorities have said the couple had argued about a possible divorce and financial issues.

Their sons were nine, 12 and 15 at the time. "I think he snapped," Newport Beach police Detective Sergeant Ryan Peters said.

Police records indicate Chadwick confessed inside a San Diego jail that it was him who killed his wife.

Chadwick was originally held without bail but was allowed to go free on PS1million bond in December 2012.

As a condition, he surrendered his passports and moved in with his dad in Santa Barbara, California.

Following his disappearance two years later, an Orange County judge issued an arrest warrant for $5million.

According to court papers, the millionaire was found to have studied published manuals on how to live off the grid and emptied bank accounts of millions before he vanished.

He apparently told one of his sons he planned to flee on foot across either the Canadian or Mexican border and then find low-paid jobs to blend into his new surroundings.

According to Craig McCluskey, of the Pacific Southwest Regional Fugitive Task Force, Chadwick hailed a taxi to the Santa Barbara airport on January 9,2015.

Evidence suggests that once inside the terminal, he changed clothes and, six hours later, used a second taxi to disappear. Airport surveillance video revealed the escape plot.

Authorities said he left behind books called How to Change Your Identity; How to Live on the Run Successfully; and Surviving in Mexico.

In announcing the podcast - called Countdown to Capture - Newport Beach police chief Lewis said they have a strong case against Chadwick. He added: "Our investigators have put together the reports, the witness statements and the evidence we need. The one thing missing is our defendant."

At the time that Chadwick was apparently planning to flee, millions were hooked on the murder mystery podcast Serial.

Podcasts have been credited with unravelling dozens of true crime mysteries and missing persons cases.

US police had refused to co-operate with podcast makers and actively deterred them from playing detective, but that has now changed as officers try to find Chadwick.

The host and producer of Countdown to Capture is Jennifer Manzella, whose main job is at the Newport Beach police information office. She said she hoped the podcast, along with a PS75,000 reward, would provide them with only one thing - their fugitive.

"The goal is absolutely to find Peter Chadwick," she said.

"The podcast itself isn't even meant to convince anybody that he's guilty of this murder. It's not meant to have any role other than to spread the word that we're still looking for him, and we want to get his face in front of as many eyes as possible.

"He literally could be anywhere in the world. He has the resources, cash and know-how to get wherever he wants to be, so we needed to reach an international audience.

"The world can become a very small place once you get technology and the internet involved."

chris.bucktin@mirror.co.uk

I'm confident we will spread the word until he has nowhere else to hide POLICE CHIEF JON LEWIS ON NEW PLOY TO FIND CHADWICK

CAPTION(S):

IN THE FRAME Chadwick in 2012 after his arrest

Evid SC ence of struggle CARS

The mansion in California HOME

QC's plugged in phone and ring SCENE

Her body was found in this skip DUMPED

Quee Choo discovered his affairs VICTIM
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Geographic Code:1U9CA
Date:Sep 28, 2018
Words:1178
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