(AMBERGRIS CAYE, Belize) — Police in the Caribbean country of Belize are now engaged in a full-scale search for John McAfee, the eccentric software magnate who is considering a “person of interest” in the Sunday slaying of his neighbor, and say that his flight and his history of feuding with the victim “bring some questions to mind.”
Retired Florida developer Gregory Faull, 52, was found shot in the head on Sunday morning in his home in San Pedro on the resort island of Ambergris Caye. He and McAfee, who lived closed by, had argued repeatedly about McAfee’s dogs. The results of Faull’s autopsy will be released Tuesday.
McAfee has not been seen since the murder, and has contacted a Wired magazine editor to say that he is in hiding and did not kill Faull.
McAfee claims that he hid in the sand with a box over his head when police came to arrest him, and that local authorities are biased against him and want him dead.
“The police have set up roadblocks across the country to catch me,” McAfee told Wired. “I slept last night on a mattress infested with lice.”
“I am adept at hiding. I will do whatever it takes to stay alive.”
Police say they believe McAfee, who has a second property in the Belize highlands, is still in the country. Raphael Martinez, a spokesman for the Ministry of National Security, urged McAfee to turn himself in, and said that authorities hope the public can help police determine his whereabouts.
“It does bring some questions into mind, that he refuses to come into police,” said Martinez. “He lived just 300 yards north of Faull.”
“As a matter of fact, just a day before Faull was found dead in his home, [McAfee’s] dogs had been poisoned, but by the time Faull was found dead they were buried,” noted Martinez.
Martinez questioned McAfee’s state of mind, given his efforts to elude police. However, he said that McAfee is still officially a “person of interest.” He also said two people have been detained in the investigation for questioning.
McAfee and Faull, both American expatriates, had traded barbs and nearly blows over McAfee’s nine dogs. Faull’s father, Arthur, told ABC News his son had demanded that McAfee quiet them down. McAfee allegedly threatened Faull that the next time he set foot on his property he’d shoot him. Faull promptly filed a complaint. He was shot a few days later.
McAfee is best known as the inventor of antivirus software in the 1980s, though he no longer has any ties to the company that bears his name, and as a pioneer of instant messaging in the 1990s. His life began unraveling in 2008, when he lost all but $4 million of his estimated $100 million fortune in the combined collapse of the stock market and real estate market. He auctioned off everything he owned in an open auction filmed by Nightline.
He then moved to Belize, where he established a company that sought to transform jungle plants into modern medicine. That company began to fall apart in 2010, after an investor fled the country.
The combative McAfee kept running afoul of police. In May, said Vidal, his teams raided McAfee’s home and lab, finding an unknown substance thought to be narcotics, which McAfee insisted was a natural antibiotic. He was not charged with a crime.
According to freelance writer Jeff Wise, who profiled McAfee’s decline on the website Gizmodo.com, McAfee had become deeply enmeshed in the world of gangs, narcotics and arms. Wise told ABC News McAfee had become something of a prophet of “bath salts,” crowing about the “super perv powder” and the drug’s erotic effects on various hardcore drug message boards.
Bath salts, synthetic drugs that can mimic the effects of cocaine, have been linked to numerous bizarre and violent incidents in the U.S.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Paul Cruickshank and Michael Pearson, CNN