Antivirus software pioneer John McAfee is dealing with a few bugs in his own life right now. The expatriate is on the run from the police in Belize, where he has lived since 2008. They say he is a “person of interest” in the murder of his neighbor; he contends that he fears for his life if he is taken into police custody.
Communicating with the outside world by way of a series of covert dispatches to Wired editor Joshua Davis, McAfee claimed that he was hiding from police because “they will kill me if they find me.” Police want to speak with him regarding the murder of his neighbor, 52-year-old Gregory Faull, also an American expatriate. Faull’s body was found Sunday morning by his housekeeper. He had been shot in the back of the head. His laptop and iPhone were reported missing. McAfee told Wired that he eluded the police who were searching his property by burying himself in the sand and covering his head with a cardboard box so he could breathe.
McAfee’s journey from freewheeling adventure capitalist (as a young man, he traveled through Mexico, living out of a van and making jewelry that he sold to tourists) to millionaire software mogul to 67-year-old tattooed, gun-toting, Central American jungle-dwelling yoga aficionado was outlined in detail in an in-depth feature that appeared on Gizmodo just days before Faull’s murder.
McAfee’s current troubles apparently are an amalgam of ongoing tensions with Belizean law enforcement, a long-running dispute with Faull and the eccentric software founder’s own paranoia.
The Gizmodo article described a laundry list of questionable behavior by McAfee in Belize, including associating with local gangsters, hiring a rogue cop to be the head of his security, keeping a lab stocked with chemistry equipment on the banks of a jungle river that feeds into Mexico and keeping company with underage women.
In April, property owned by McAfee was raided by Belize’s Gang Suppression Squad which charged him with running a methamphetamine lab and illegal arms possession. The charges were later dropped. Since then, McAfee had thought the police were harassing him.
When four of McAfee’s 11 dogs were poisoned on Friday night, he put the blame on Belize authorities, according to an AP report. They had, after all, shot and killed one of his dogs during the earlier raid on his property.
The dogs were also the cause of tension between McAfee and Faull and other neighbors. Faull had given the town council a letter complaining that McAfee’s dogs were running loose and attacking people.
In a recent call to Wired’s Davis, McAfee demonstrated his espionage abilities by describing the disguise he has adopted: dying his highlighted hair black, as well as his eyebrows, mustache and beard.
He also expressed his conviction that in his absence, police are planting evidence on his property. In addition, he raged against the arrests of some of his associates (allegedly for attempted bribery).
This is exactly what happened to Soviet dissidents when Stalin took power,” he said. “If they could not catch the man himself, they rounded up all of his friends.”
Belize authorities maintain that McAfee is simply wanted for questioning.
“It’s too early in the investigation. To say he is a suspect would be a bold statement,” Raphael Martinez, spokesman for Belize’s Ministry of National Security told The Associated Press.
Still, McAfee informed the AP in an email that he was not planning on turning himself in.
“Suspect or no, I believe the government wants me out of the way. Too many people have died in custody in this country so I intend to do nothing that puts me in their custody,” McAfee said.
John McAfee sold his interest in his namesake company in the early 1990s for a reported $100 million.