(SAN PEDRO TOWN, Belize) — John McAfee, the tech wizard who developed the McAfee anti-virus software in the 1980s and helped pioneer instant messaging in the 1990s, is wanted for questioning by Belize Police in connection with the murder of a neighbor and fellow American expatriate.
Police say 52-year-old Gregory Faull was found dead in his tropical island hacienda on Sunday — discovered lying face down in a pool of blood by his housekeeper. Police say he was shot in the back of the head. Gang Suppression Unit commander Marco Vidal told ABC News that McAfee was one of several individuals wanted for questioning. Belize Police spokesman Raphael Martinez also said that McAfee is one of several “persons of interest” in the inquiry.
But McAfee told Wired magazine he was innocent, and that he watched police search his property from a hole he’d buried in the sand – covering himself with a cardboard box. “It was extremely uncomfortable,” he told Wired, adding, ‘You can say I’m paranoid about it but they will kill me, there is no question. They’ve been trying to get me for months.”
He said Belizean authorities had targeted him, but killed the wrong American. Authorities in Belize denied any wrongdoing, telling ABC News they are just trying to investigate the murder and McAfee’s possible connection.
McAfee and Faull lived in adjacent lots on the Belizean jungle island of Ambergris Caye and had traded barbs and nearly blows over McAfee’s nine dogs. Faull’s father, Arthur Faull, 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’s life began unraveling in 2008, when he lost most 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 ABC News 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
Matt McFarland, CNN
Susan Scutti, CNN
Jackie Wattles, CNN