(MIAMI) — John McAfee’s month-long international run from police through two Central American nations ended with a flight to Miami, where the businessman who says he abandoned his fortune admitted to playing the “crazy card.”
As a gaggle of media waited near several exit doors at the airport Wednesday night, federal authorities whisked the founder of McAfee anti-virus software off the plane and into a van.
“They said, ‘Mr. McAfee, please step forward,'” McAfee, 67, later told ABC News exclusively overnight at a Miami Beach hotel. “I was met by a dozen or maybe fewer officers. I said am I arrested? They said, ‘No, sir, I am here to help you.’ That felt the best of all.”
He eventually snuck out the airport in a cab and headed to South Beach, where he sat down with ABC News and admitted to playing the “crazy card” and said he is broke.
“I have nothing now,” McAfee said, adding that he left everything behind in Belize, including $20 million in investments and about 15 properties. “I’ve got a pair of clothes and shoes, my friend dropped off some cash.”
Just hours earlier, the self-made millionaire was deported by Guatemalan police who forced him aboard a U.S.-bound flight away from the home and the two women he said he loves. After he arrived in South Beach, he said a mysterious “Canadian friend” ordered another man he’d never met to drop off a wad of fresh $5 bills that McAfee later displayed to ABC News, pulling them from his coat pocket.
He says he left his fortune, including a beachfront compound, behind after the Nov. 10 killing of his neighbor Greg Faull in Belize.
Belize officials said McAfee isn’t a suspect, but when they asked to question him, McAfee disguised himself and ran.
After three weeks ducking authorities in Belize, by hiding in attics, in the jungle and in dingy hotels, he turned up in Guatemala on Dec. 3.
Barely a day later, he was detained for entering the country illegally. As Guatemala officials grappled with how to handle his request for asylum and the Belize government’s demand for his deportation, McAfee fell ill. The mysterious illness, described by his attorney alternately as a heart ailment or a nervous breakdown, led to a scene with reporters chasing his ambulance down the narrow streets of Guatemala City and right into the emergency room, where McAfee appeared unresponsive.
He now says it was all a ruse: “It was a deception but who did it hurt? I look pretty healthy, don’t I?”
He says he faked the illness in order to buy some time for a judge to hear his case and stay his deportation to Belize, a government he believes wants him dead. When asked whether he believes Belize officials where inept, he didn’t mince words.
“I was on the run with a 20-year-old girl for three and a half weeks inside their borders and everyone was looking for me, and they did not catch me,” he said. “I escaped, was captured and they tried to send me back. Now I’m sitting in Miami. There had to be some ineptness.”
The man who many believe only wants attention answered critics who called his month-long odyssey and blog posts a publicity stunt by simply saying, “What’s a better story, millionaire mad man on the run. You [the media] saved my ass. Because you paid attention to the story. As long as you are reporting, it is hard to whack somebody that the world is watching.”
McAfee denies any involvement in Faull’s death but adds that he is not particularly concerned about clearing his name. He is focused on getting his 20-year-old and 17-year-old girlfriends out of Belize and says he has no idea what he’ll do next, where he’ll live or how he’ll support himself.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Jim Acosta and Greg Clary, CNN
Paul Moyer, Deseret News