Belize police want to quiz computer anti-virus guru John McAfee about gangland-style murder of next door neighbour

 

Los Angeles

With his tinted hair and tribal tattoos, John McAfee has always stood out like a sore thumb among the yacht-owning multi-millionaires who choose to live out their teatime years in the picturesque Caribbean tax haven of Belize.

The co-founder of the technology company McAfee, which is famous for its popular anti-virus software, he moved to a beachfront mansion on the tourist island of Ambergis Caye in 2009, hoping to enjoy a long and happy retirement filled with sun, sea, sand, and yoga.

But after an extraordinary fall from grace, the British-born entrepreneur has found himself holed-up in a jungle hideaway, attempting to stay one step away from detectives seeking to question him about the gangland-style murder of his next door neighbour.

Police in the Central American country have described McAfee as a “person of interest” in the killing of Gregory Faull, a wealthy native of Florida who was found face-down in a pool of blood on Sunday morning. He had been shot in the head.

McAfee insists that he has been framed, as part of a vendetta by local authorities. Speaking via telephone to a reporter from Wired magazine, he alleged that his own life would be in danger in the custody of Belize’s police force.

“You can say that I'm paranoid about it, but they will kill me, there is no question,” he told the technology magazine. “They've been trying to get me for months. They want to silence me. I am not well liked by the prime minister. I am just a thorn in everybody's side.”

McAfee had been on the run for 36 hours by daybreak today. He claimed to have initially evaded arrest by burying himself in sand and placing a cardboard box over his head so he could breathe. Then he fled to a secret jungle location.

Around 9am, local time, power was cut to that hideaway, leading him to believe that the net was closing. But at the time of going to print, he remained at large.

“I am adept at hiding. I will do whatever it takes to stay alive,” he told Wired. “The police have set up roadblocks across the country to catch me. I slept last night on a mattress infested with lice. It was extraordinarily uncomfortable [but] I will not turn myself in.”

McAfee had been in dispute with several neighbours, including Faull, over the state of his beachside compound. The property is surrounded by high fences, boasts an untidy garden, and has for months patrolled by heavily-armed guards.

It also contains a pack of large guard dogs. They had recently been the subject of several noise complaints, one of which came from Faull. On Friday night, four of the dogs died, after having apparently been poisoned.

McAfee claims the poisoning occurred at the hands of authorities, as part of a plot to frame him for Faull's murder. The police, who have recovered several firearms during a search of his home, say there is “absolutely no truth” to that allegation.

“This guy amazes me every day,” said Marco Vidal, the head of Belize’s Gang Suppression Unit, who cald him a “prime suspect” in the homicide investigation. “We don’t have anything personal against Mr McAfee. There is no need for us to poison dogs.”

The manhunt is just the latest twist in a life story which already stretches the bounds of credulity. Raised in Virginia, McAfee worked in Silicon Valley throughout the 1980s, and founded his eponymous firm in 1987. It became hugely successful thanks to an explosion in the market for anti-virus software and a (then) unique business model which involved giving away the product online, but charging customers for tech support.

The firm went public in 1992, and McAfee sold his stake two years later, giving him a fortune of around $100m. He purchased a string of luxury homes, in Hawaii, Arizona, New Mexico, and Colorado, and decided to devote his time to a mixture of yoga and “Aerotrekking,” a highly dangerous adventure sport which involves flying unlicensed planes at low altitude.

The good life came to an abrupt end in 2008, however when the stockmarket crash wiped out many of his assets. At one point, the New York Times reported that he was down to his last $4m, although that figure has since been disputed. He duly liquidated his property portfolio and moved to Belize, a destination which offered low taxes and robust protection from creditors.

In recent years, McAfee claimed to have founded an alternative medicine company which was using local plants to manufacture a natural alternative to antibiotics, and a herbal version of Viagra for women. But police appear to have come to the conclusion that the business was instead a front for a methamphetamine laboratory.

At dawn on April 30th, they raided his home. They shot a guard dog before arresting five security guards, along with a 17-year-old local who was described as McAfee’s girlfriend. A search uncovered ten firearms, including seven pump-action shotguns and a pistol.

McAfee was thrown into prison on suspicion of manufacturing methamphetamine and illegal firearm possession. He was released after several hours, though the case against him has yet to be fully resolved. According to Reuters, charges are still: “pending.”

In interviews conducted over the ensuing months, McAfee has told reporters that he's being persecuted for refusing to donate money to one of Belize’s most influential politicians. He alleges that several attempts had been made on his life, forcing him to hire heavily-armed gang members to protect him.

A reporter from Wired, who is working on a major profile of McAfee, says that he conducted a recent interview with a Luger pistol lying on his desk. That’s the same gun which was apparently used to shoot Faull.

Yet McAfee continues to insist he knows “nothing” about the murder. In a phone call to Wired's reporter, he has even speculating that it may have been a botched attempt to assassinate him. “They mistook him for me. They got the wrong house,” he claimed. “He’s dead. They killed him. It spooked me out.” A jury may eventually have to decide whether he’s telling the truth.

Arts and Entertainment
books
Voices
Caustic she may be, but Joan Rivers is a feminist hero, whether she likes it or not
voicesShe's an inspiration, whether she likes it or not, says Ellen E Jones
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and the Dalek meet
tvReview: Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Sport
Diego Costa
footballEverton 3 Chelsea 6: Diego Costa double has manager purring
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Life and Style
3D printed bump keys can access almost any lock
techSoftware needs photo of lock and not much more
Arts and Entertainment
The 'three chords and the truth gal' performing at the Cornbury Music Festival, Oxford, earlier this summer
music... so how did she become country music's hottest new star?
Life and Style
The spy mistress-general: A lecturer in nutritional therapy in her modern life, Heather Rosa favours a Byzantine look topped off with a squid and a schooner
fashionEurope's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln
News
Dr Alice Roberts in front of a
peopleAlice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Star turns: Montacute House
tv
News
i100Steve Carell selling chicken, Tina Fey selling saving accounts and Steve Colbert selling, um...
Arts and Entertainment
Unsettling perspective: Iraq gave Turner a subject and a voice (stock photo)
booksBrian Turner's new book goes back to the bloody battles he fought in Iraq
News
The Digicub app, for young fans
advertisingNSPCC 'extremely concerned'
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Some of the key words and phrases to remember
booksA user's guide to weasel words
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior Data Scientist (Data Mining, RSPSS, R, AI, CPLEX, SQL)

£60000 - £70000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Senior Data Sc...

Law Costs

Highly Attractive Salary: Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL - This is a very unusual law c...

Junior VB.NET Application Developer (ASP.NET, SQL, Graduate)

£28000 - £30000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Junior VB.NET ...

C# .NET Web Developer (ASP.NET, JavaScript, jQuery, XML, XLST)

£40000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# .NET Web De...

Day In a Page

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model of a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

Europe's biggest steampunk convention

Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor
She's dark, sarcastic, and bashes life in Nowheresville ... so how did Kacey Musgraves become country music's hottest new star?

Kacey Musgraves: Nashville's hottest new star

The singer has two Grammys for her first album under her belt and her celebrity fans include Willie Nelson, Ryan Adams and Katy Perry
American soldier-poet Brian Turner reveals the enduring turmoil that inspired his memoir

Soldier-poet Brian Turner on his new memoir

James Kidd meets the prize-winning writer, whose new memoir takes him back to the bloody battles he fought in Iraq
Aston Villa vs Hull match preview: Villa were not surprised that Ron Vlaar was a World Cup star

Villa were not surprised that Vlaar was a World Cup star

Andi Weimann reveals just how good his Dutch teammate really is
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef ekes out his holiday in Italy with divine, simple salads

Bill Granger's simple Italian salads

Our chef presents his own version of Italian dishes, taking in the flavours and produce that inspired him while he was in the country
The Last Word: Tumbleweed through deserted stands and suites at Wembley

The Last Word: Tumbleweed through deserted stands and suites at Wembley

If supporters begin to close bank accounts, switch broadband suppliers or shun satellite sales, their voices will be heard. It’s time for revolution