Newport exec claims someone else killed his wife, source says
Newport Coast man charged with killing his wife during a dispute last week told police that another man actually killed her and forced him to load the body onto a truck and then drive his own car toward the Mexican border, according to a source close to the investigation.
Peter Gregory Chadwick, 48, pleaded not guilty Monday to a single count of murder for financial gain. He remains jailed on $1.5 million bail.
Prosecutors say that Chadwick, a wealthy business executive who lived in a $2.5-million home along the exclusive Newport Coast, killed his wife last Wednesday as they fought over a possible divorce, and related financial issues.
Quee “Q.C.” Chadwick, 46, vanished about the same time, authorities said. Her body has not been located.
A source close to the investigation but not authorized to speak publically said Chadwick offered a different story when he was taken into custody in San Diego, not far from the border.
The businessman pinned the slaying on someone else and said he’d been forced to load his wife’s body into into a truck and then drive south in his own champagne-colored Lexus SUV, the source said.
But, the source said, Chadwick story doesn’t add up because Newport Beach detectives have evidence that nobody else was seen in his car, and that even a CHP officer – who happened by chance to tail Chadwick’s car at one point -- said there was no passenger in his vehicle.
The source said that detectives found signs of a bloody struggle in one of the home’s bathrooms.
The investigation has rattled the Newport Coast, a tony enclave of sprawling homes with spectacular ocean views that has appealed to celebrities like Kobe Bryant.
But she dismissed it as just an expression of momentary frustration, possibly from getting their three children ready for school. Normally the family is quiet and polite, and she didn't recall ever hearing fighting or yelling from the home.
Peter Chadwick was “always nice, nothing wrong, nothing special,” she said. “I can only tell you good things about this couple.”
Police went to the Chadwicks' $2.5-million home on Almanzora on Wednesday evening after a neighbor alerted authorities that no one had come to pick up the couple's children from school, said Newport police spokeswoman Kathy Lowe. The children are 8, 10 and 14 years old.
When officers entered the five-bedroom, European-style home, they discovered “evidence of a struggle and possible foul play,” she said.
Concerned, police launched a search for the Chadwicks. The Chadwicks' whereabouts remained a mystery until 5:30 a.m. Thursday, when Peter Chadwick called San Diego police asking for “assistance,” police said.
-- Richard Winton and Lauren Williams