During the years he lived as a fugitive in Mexico, Peter Chadwick, who was wanted by U.S. authorities for the murder of his wife Q.C. in 2012, went by a few aliases, one of them was the name Paul Cook.
ABC News Correspondent Bob Woodruff and his producers traveled to Mexico, where they spoke to people who provided ABC News with previously unreported details and documents about this case.
A special "20/20" that airs Friday, Oct. 21, at 9 p.m. ET takes a look at Peter Chadwick’s life on the lam in Mexico and the tireless effort by law enforcement authorities to track him down.
After fleeing the U.S., where Peter had been charged with his wife’s murder in their Newport Beach, California, home in 2012, he crossed the border on foot without a passport, hopping from town to town, before landing in Pátzcuaro, 4 hours west of Mexico City. There he settled in for nearly 2 years, buying a condo, and finding work.
While in Mexico, Chadwick was telling people that his family had died in the infamous Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 that disappeared in 2014.
People who knew Peter, aka Paul, such as Rick Davis, said there was always something mysterious about him.
“He never was upfront,” Davis told ABC News Correspondent Bob Woodruff during the "20/20" interview about the Chadwick murder. When speaking with him “he wouldn't look at you,” Davis said.
ABC News learned details about a close friendship Chadwick had while in Pátzcuaro with a local woman named Claudia Soto.
In May 2016, Peter, Claudia, and her sister, Adriana Segovia were on their way back from a concert in a nearby town when they were involved in a car accident that killed Claudia while leaving her sister, Adriana, in a coma for 15 days.
While Peter and Adriana were taken to different hospitals, the Soto family says they were called into the District Attorney's office to sign a legal document exempting Paul Cook from all liability.
“Everything that that paper has, I didn’t say it,” Claudia’s mother Esperanza Segovia told ABC News. “That whole paper is lies.”
The Michoacan Attorney General’s transparency unit told ABC News that the document is part of their investigation.
After the accident, Chadwick left Pátzcuaro and went to a town called Valle de Bravo, where he said he worked as a dishwasher in a cafe and taught English lessons to make money.
He saw himself on an investigative report on TV and decided to flee, this time going to the city of Cholula.
“Peter’s life was closed in,” said José Islas Cruz, a Mexican federal police officer. “He didn’t go out much. He was very scared of being recognized.”
With coordination between Mexican and US authorities, Chadwick was tracked down. They were able to locate him based on a call he made from a pay phone and they arrested him in August 2019. Later in a debrief with police, Chadwick claimed he was planning on leaving Cholula the next morning.
Back in Newport Beach, his former neighbors were sharing the news.
“We're just flooded with text messages,” neighbor Heidi Pascal told ABC News’ Bob Woodruff. “Everybody, ‘did you hear this? Did you hear that?’ It was just – thank God. Thank God he was arrested. We thank God they found him finally. And they'll bring him to justice.”
Adriana Segovia, the car accident survivor, said her response to the news was “God exists.” “God is just,” she said.
On the phone with his eldest son, Ben, after his arrest, Peter Chadwick expressed remorse. “I'm so sorry for all this messing up your life,” he said over the phone. “And what happened to Mom, obviously. And everything. I'm so sorry. I screwed up.”
Appearing in court in February 2022, Chadwick pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and was sentenced to 15 years to life in prison.
Matt Murphy, a former Orange County prosecutor and ABC News Contributor, said Chadwick will have to do “12 years minimum in California State Prison before he's eligible for parole.”
Matt Murphy believes, when that hearing happens, the “family in Mexico should have a voice.”