A Newport Beach businessman pleaded not guilty Monday to charges he murdered his 46-year-old wife in their Newport Coast estate and dumped her body at an unknown location.
According to prosecutors, Peter Gregory Chadwick, 48, killed Quee "Q.C." Chadwick on Wednesday morning, then headed toward Mexico. The body hasn't been found.
"What I can tell you is he definitely did it. ... It's his motive that's still pretty unclear," Deputy District Attorney Matt Murphy told City News Service.
The Chadwicks were discussing a divorce, but it's not known who was the driving force in that conversation, Murphy said. Investigators were combing over the couple's computers for evidence, and so far have found searches for divorce attorneys, the prosecutor said.
After the killing, when Chadwick and his wife failed to pick up their children -- ages 8, 10 and 14 -- from school, another parent drove the youngsters home and called police. Authorities then searched the family's $2-million Almanzora home, finding blood and signs of a struggle, prosecutors said.
Yulianna Nikulina, who lives next door in the gated community, said she heard Quee Chadwick screaming about 6:30 a.m. or 7 a.m. Monday or Tuesday. But Nikulina told the Los Angeles Times she thought the scream was an expression of momentary frustration.
After the slaying, Peter Chadwick is accused of driving his champagne-colored Lexus SUV to the Mexican border and contacting San Diego police. Chadwick called from the side of the 905 Freeway requesting assistance.
According to Murphy, Chadwick called police "pitching his story." The prosecutor declined to provide details, but the L.A. Times quoted a source who said Chadwick blamed the murder on someone else, claiming the "real killer" then forced Chadwick to load his wife's body into his SUV and drive south.
However, police said they have evidence no other person was in Chadwick's vehicle, according to the newspaper.
Newport Beach police are asking for the public's help in pinpointing Chadwick's movements in the hours before his arrest.
"We are still searching for Quee Chadwick," Newport Beach police spokeswoman Kathy Lowe said early Monday. "We are asking that anyone who may have seen Chadwick's vehicle on Wednesday, Oct. 11, through Thursday, Oct. 12 at 5:30 a.m. to call with information."
NBPD Detective Bryan Moore can be contacted at 949-644-3764 or Supervising District Attorney Investigator Randy Litwin at 714-347-8492.
Chadwick is due back in court Oct. 26 on charges of murder for financial gain.
If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of life without parole. He was being held without bail at the Orange County Jail.
-- City News Service contributed to this story.