Tell-Tale Crimes: We all tell stories about monsters

Tell-Tale Crimes: We all tell stories about monsters

Maggie Harvey


Welcome to Tell-Tale Crimes, the crime column of the Quaker Campus. Tell-Tale Crimes will aim to provide a look at both local and national crimes and cases that are sometimes interesting, sometimes relevant, and sometimes both, from the perspective of a true crime enthusiast. I became fascinated by true crime at a surprisingly young age after a school project on psychosis. With my off-beat knowledge of serial killers in hand, I skirted the periphery of crime and horror until my college years. Then I discovered an obsession with glitz, glam, and grim crimes that is unique to Southern California. From the Black Dahlia, to the Cecil Hotel, to Richard Ramirez, Southern California is ripe with historical and current crimes that are worth a story. So here I am writing scary stories, both local and national, and true ones at that. 

Be forewarned, the pieces published in this column will contain descriptions of violent crimes or crime scenes. Thank you for reading.

Peter Chadwick went missing in 2015 after failing to appear for a scheduled court date. Courtesy of  ABCNews

Peter Chadwick went missing in 2015 after failing to appear for a scheduled court date. Courtesy of ABCNews

Throughout human history, we have passed down stories. These tales turn into the folklore, myths, and legends that we all know and love. Some of them are fantastical, like a giant who walks across the American landscape with his giant bull, or a man who tried to give fire to humanity and was punished by having a bird eternally pick out his organs. Others teach us about survival or natural phenomenon: Don’t talk to strangers while travelling alone (otherwise they’ll eat your grandparents), or the reason why the seasons happen is because the god of the Underworld fell in love with the goddess of Spring. We learn from the written and spoken word, and sometimes we learn about more dangerous things. The Newport Beach Police Department has decided to tell us a story, so that we can learn more about a dangerous man.

Millionaire real-estate broker Peter Chadwick disappeared in 2015 after posting a $2.1 billion bail. Police charged him with murdering his wife in 2012, and after failing to turn up for his trial, they realized that he was missing. On Oct. 10, 2012, he and his wife, Quee Choo Lim Chadwick, were reported missing by a concerned neighbor, who said that Quee Choo Lim had not picked up their three children from school. When police investigated the Chadwick’s home, they discovered blood spatter in the bathroom, glass from a shattered vase, and that the family safe had been emptied. Before they disappeared, it was reported by the OCRegister that the couple had been discussing a possible divorce.

Police found and arrested Chadwick in San Diego. Chadwick claimed that the family’s handyman had killed Quee Choo Lim, and that he had forced Chadwick to drive to Mexico to dispose of the body. During the booking process, police noticed injuries on Chadwick’s body, including bite marks on his arms indicating that he had struggled with someone, and they grew suspicious of his story. Quee Choo Lim’s body was found six days later in a trash bin at a San Diego County gas station. Investigators say that she had been strangled to death. Chadwick then recanted his story about the handyman and admitted that he had made it all up.

Chadwick surrendered both his US and UK passports as a dual citizen, and he posted his bail with the promise that he would stay with his father in Santa Barbara while awaiting a conviction. According to CTV, Chadwick had successfully appeared at 13 court days before he failed to show up for his appearance on Jan. 5, 2015. Police have said that, if he is still alive, he has most likely fled the country and  could be anywhere in the world, due to his massive wealth. He is currently on the U.S. Marshal’s most wanted list, and they are offering up to $100,000 for any information leading to his arrest.

Because the case had remained stagnant for years, the Newport Beach Police department has decided to release a podcast called Countdown to Capture, which was released in six installments over two weeks between Sept. 9 and Sept. 15. The podcast will discuss the life of Chadwick, the details of the crime, and how he managed to evade capture for this amount of time. Newport Beach Police Chief Jon T. Lewis hopes to spread more information about the case so that the information may reach a worldwide audience. “Peter could be anywhere in the world,” Lewis told NBC Los Angeles.“He’s got the financial means to avoid the restrictions placed on his travel, and he’s taken every opportunity to hide his tracks. We want to spread his picture and the story of his crimes far and wide. We want everyone to be looking for Peter Chadwick.”

The podcast will be hosted by the department spokesperson, Jennifer Manzella. Other true crime themed podcasts are usually run by true crime enthusiasts, writers, or investigative journalists. Personally, I find that this gives them a slightly more relatable feeling, like listening to a friend tell me a story.  However, Countdown to Capture makes no claims to be an enthusiast podcast. Manzella starts the podcast with this disclaimer: “I’m not a reporter, and I’m not a true-crime enthusiast. And I’m certainly not a disinterested third party. I am the spokesperson for the Newport Beach Police Department, the agency that investigated this murder and arrested Peter Chadwick  —  an agency that is very interested in where he is now.” All episodes are available on iTunes, or wherever else you may listen to podcasts.