John McAfee, the software millionaire on the run from detectives who are seeking to question him in Belize about the killing of his next-door neighbour, has dyed his hair, eyebrows, beard and moustache black in an attempt disguise his appearance, it was claimed yesterday.
The 67-year-old, who struck gold in the late 1980s by co-founding the McAfee technology firm, a pioneer in anti-virus software, is being pursued in connection with the slaying of Gregory Faull, an American expat who lived along the beachside from Mr McAfee's mansion in the Caribbean tax haven. Shot in the head, Mr Faull was found face down in a pool of blood on Sunday, setting in motion a probe that soon led the police in the tiny Central American country to describe the tattooed Mr McAfee as a "person of interest" in the killing. Since then, a police spokesman has clarified to CNN that Mr McAfee is not a suspect, but that the authorities want to talk to him merely to "clarify the situation".
Mr McAfee, however, views the affair as an elaborate plot to frame him as a result of a vendetta by local officials and has been on the run for days. He told Wired magazine that his own life would be in danger if he turned himself in. Mr Faull had recently complained about the noise made by Mr McAfee's dogs, four of whom had been apparently poisoned on Friday night – something that Mr McAfee also attributes to the alleged conspiracy.
In another bizarre turn, it has now emerged that, while in hiding, Mr McAfee has changed his appearance. It appears that as he evades the police he has found time to send "semi-hourly updates" to a journalist from Wired magazine. "I have modified my appearance in a radical fashion," he said. "I'll probably look like a murderer, unfortunately."
He also furthered his conspiracy theory, claiming that the police would plant evidence at his beachside property. "The police have been to my house seven times," he said. "I expect them to uncover a cache of fully automatic weapons, four tons of cocaine. Maybe a Soviet submarine."
Earlier this year, Mr McAfee was imprisoned on suspicion of manufacturing methamphetamine and illegally possessing firearms, though he was later released. The case is reported to be still pending, according to the Reuters news agency.
As he evades arrest, the authorities have closed in on his friends, according to Wired, detaining one of his bodyguards, his groundskeeper and a local taxi driver since the weekend. "This is exactly what happened to Soviet dissidents when Stalin took power," Mr McAfee is said to have claimed. "If they could not catch the man himself, they rounded up all of his friends."