Evicted anti-virus guru John McAfee on the run again
Tycoon leaves US for Canada after building manager says guns and gangs made him fear for his life
Tim Walker is The Independent’s Los Angeles correspondent, covering entertainment and other concerns from the West Coast of the US. He was previously a features writer and the editor of the paper’s diary column. His first novel, Completion, is being published in January 2014.
Tuesday 26 November 2013
Like a persistent computer virus, wherever John McAfee pops up, trouble seems to follow.
The British-American entrepreneur behind the McAfee anti-virus software has been evicted from his apartment in Portland, Oregon, and accused of stalking by the building’s property manager.
The news comes almost a year after Mr McAfee, 68, fled his previous home in Belize, in Central America, to escape being questioned by local police about the killing of his American neighbour, Gregory Faull.
The stalking complaint was filed by Connor Hyde, the superintendent of the building where Mr McAfee took an apartment earlier this year. Mr Hyde, a property manager for the Riverstone Residential Group, claims Mr McAfee sent him threatening emails and accused him of involvement in a conspiracy with Mr Faull’s family.
According to The Oregonian, Mr Hyde, who no longer works at the building in question, feared that Mr McAfee had access to firearms and associated with members of a biker gang.
In an interview with the Associated Press, Mr McAfee said he had not been evicted and insisted that he “never threatened anybody, except with threats of lawsuits”.
He had a “severe problem” with Mr Hyde due to “wilful lapses of security”, Mr McAfee said, adding that Mr Hyde “gave keys out to all of his friends and friends of friends… People were partying in vacant condos. It’s turned into a nightmare ever since the new owners purchased the building four months ago”.
A Portland judge granted a temporary protective order against Mr McAfee, who dismissed it as meaningless because, he said, he moved to Montreal in Canada two months ago. The tech guru also said he would not attend the hearing scheduled for 3 January.
Mr McAfee founded his anti-virus firm McAfee Associates in 1987 and sold his stake seven years later for an estimated $100m (£62m). The company was later sold to Intel for more than $7.6bn (£4.7bn), while in 2009 its founder claimed to have lost the majority of his fortune during the financial crisis.
Four years ago, Mr McAfee moved to Belize for tax reasons, became an avid yoga practitioner and established a small biotechnology research facility where, he said, he was developing new varieties of antibiotics.
In April 2012, police raided the facility and arrested Mr McAfee on suspicion of producing methamphetamine, though the charges were quickly dropped.
On 11 November 2012, Mr Faull, a divorced sports bar owner from Florida, was found shot dead at his home nearby. He and Mr McAfee had reportedly argued about several matters, including the level of noise from Mr McAfee’s compound. The day before the murder, Mr McAfee’s dogs were poisoned.
Mr McAfee, who denies any involvement in Mr Faull’s death, dyed his hair as a disguise and fled Belize to avoid being questioned by the local authorities, whom he accused of corruption. While staying in neighbouring Guatemala, he met with a reporter and photographer from Vice who planned to chronicle his life on the lam.
But they gave away his location by posting a photo of Mr McAfee online without first wiping its location data.
Mr McAfee was accused of crossing the border from Belize illegally and spent a week in jail in Guatemala before flying to the US.
In a bid to clear his name, Mr McAfee has offered a $25,000 reward for information about Mr Faull’s death. Police in Belize said the entrepreneur remains a “person of interest” in their investigation into Mr Faull’s death.
The country’s Prime Minister, Dean Barrow, has described Mr McAfee as “extremely paranoid, even bonkers”.
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