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 today.
McAfee has not been seen since the murder, and has contacted "Wired" magazine editor Joshua Davis to say that he is fleeing from authorities and did not kill Faull.
"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," said McAfee. "I have had an adventure from hell, I want to tell you that right now, sir. Lying in the bottom of cabs, boats, you name it."
According to Davis, McAfee claims that he hid in the sand when police came to arrest him. "He says that he, in fact, dug himself into the sand and put a cardboard box over his head so he could breathe, and he stayed there for hours," said Davis. Davis said that McAfee sounds scared and "frantic," is convinced that local authorities are biased against him and want him dead, and believes that police killed Faull thinking it was him.
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. According to Joshua Davis, McAfee believes that several taxi drivers who helped him escape have been arrested.
The Faull and McAfee Feud
Neighbors of McAfee told ABC News the 67-year-old used to walk around the beach on his property armed with a shotgun, and he was usually accompanied by an entourage that they called the "johntourage." They said he also wore a shoulder holster with a pistol everywhere he went.
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.
According to Joshua Davis, McAfee believed that a ship had brought men in black uniforms to the island and that they had come ashore and fed poisoned meat to his dogs on Friday night. He had to shoot the dogs to put them out of their misery. Davis spoke to McAfee on Saturday, after McAfee had buried the dogs.
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.