11.14.12

McAfee Founder Goes Into Hiding, Denies Killing Neighbor in Belize

John McAfee made millions when he sold his stake in the well-known antivirus software company. Now the eccentric entrepreneur is on the lam, wanted for questioning in the slaying of a retired contractor who lived near him in San Pedro, Belize.

Last Thursday, eccentric American millionaire John McAfee gave a small speech outside the police department in San Pedro, Belize, about supporting local law enforcement and how the law was necessary to “curb the negative aspect of the human animal.” The Nov. 8 afternoon soiree was held because of the town’s growing crime problem. During the event, the 67-year-old McAfee—who was accompanied by his 17-year-old girlfriend and his bodyguard—donated stun guns, pepper spray, handcuffs, metal detectors, and swat batons to the tiny police force.

Four days later, McAfee, who sports blond-tinted hair and body tattoos, was on the run from the very same police department, and is now wanted for questioning in the murder of his neighbor, Greg Faull, a retired Florida contractor he had an ongoing feud with. Faull was found by his maid face-up in a pool of blood inside his two-story home north of San Pedro, a town on the island of Ambergris Caye. He had been shot once in the back of his head.

The Nov. 11 death of Faull came as a huge shock to the small, touristy village of locals and ex-pats, who get around the island on golf carts. Until this incident, the town of 20,000 was known mostly for having the second-largest barrier reef in the world after Australia, and as the place to go to for snorkeling with friendly nurse sharks. Although the town has seen a rise in home burglaries, most of the crime involves petty theft and drug hustlers trying to make a buck off tourists.

“It doesn’t look like a robbery, but a hit,” said a shocked San Pedro Mayor Daniel Guerrero.

So far, police have detained two people “who have been seen with, or worked with [McAfee],” but the investigation is still in its infancy, says Raphael Martinez, spokesman for Belize’s Ministry of National Security.

Although police have declined to say if McAfee is their No. 1 suspect, Martinez told The Daily Beast there were no signs of forced entry. Nor do police believe Faull’s death was a burglary or robbery gone bad. “We haven’t established the motive, but burglary or robbery doesn’t seem to be it,” Martinez says. “Nothing of major importance was missing from his house.” He added, “We are still seeking Mr. McAfee for questioning but he can’t seem to be found so far.” 

At least, that is, by the police. McAfee contacted Wired magazine about his innocence and claimed Faull was not the real target of the killer. McAfee was.

McAfee also claimed that he spent the last few days hiding in boats and sleeping in ditches and on a lice-infested mattress because he fears the cops will kill him if he goes to them. “You can say I’m paranoid about it but they will kill me, there is no question,” he told Wired. “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.”

“I smiled as I read [the article],” said Martinez. “We don’t live in the type of country where we can pick someone up and arbitrarily kill them. Our laws are based on British laws, and if he fears for his life he should be accompanied by someone or have someone come along with him when he comes in for questioning. He also said in the article that there is no better place for him to live than Belize. I am just wondering what his frame of mind is.”

The case is the latest development in McAfee’s strange saga. The yoga enthusiast, who made millions after he sold his stake in the antivirus-software company in the early 1990s, moved to Belize in 2008 after he allegedly lost the bulk of his $100 million fortune when the stock market crashed and he failed at a number of ventures including “aerotrekking,” which involves flying unlicensed planes at low altitude.

McAfee claimed that he spent the last few days hiding in boats and sleeping in ditches and on a lice-infested mattress because he fears the cops will kill him.

He set up shop in Orange Walk on Belize’s mainland and on San Pedro, where he regularly paraded around town with young women and armed guards. “There is so very few individuals that would feel so compelled to be heavily armed,” said Tamara Sniffin, editor of the San Pedro Sun. “I think he has been armed the whole time in Belize. He isn’t really an incognito kind of guy. He claimed even before he moved here that someone wanted to kill him because he is a wealthy man. This has been his persona for quite some time. You have to take everything he says with a grain of salt.”

While he was living on the mainland, McAfee built a laboratory he claimed was used to manufacture a natural alternative to antibiotics and an herbal version of Viagra for women. Police, however, were suspicious of his activities and believed he was running a sophisticated meth lab.

Caught up in the mess was Allison Adonizio, who told The Daily Beast she met McAfee in the summer of 2009 while she was vacationing in Belize.

“I was working at the time on characterization of anti-bacterial compounds at Harvard Medical/ Massachusetts General Hospital,” she wrote in an email. “I discussed my research with him, and he offered to build and fund a lab in the country to study the presence of these compounds in the local flora. I moved to Belize and started working with McAfee later that year.” 

Adonizio said that after a few months she became suspicious “about McAfee and his activities both in and out of the lab. That suspicion grew as his behavior became increasingly erratic.”

Adonizio said she became concerned for her safety when she “confronted him with my questions.”

She quickly shut down the lab and moved back to the United States, where “I shared my suspicions about McAfee with the appropriate authorities.”

According to the online magazine Gizmodo, McAfee, under an alias, began posting messages in July 2010 on “a drug-focused Russian-hosted message board called Bluelight about his attempts to purify the psychoactive compounds colloquially known as ‘bath salts.’”

According to the article, McAfee “warned about the dangers of handling the freebase version of the drug: “I had visual and auditory hallucinations and the worst paranoia of my life.”

He recommended that the most effective way to take a dose is via rectal insertion, a procedure known as “plugging,” writing: “Measure your dose, apply a small amount of saliva to just the tip of your middle finger, press it against the dose, insert. Doesn’t really hurt as much as it sounds. We’re in an arena (drugs/libido) that I navigate as well as anyone on the planet here. If you take my advice about this (may sound gross to some of you perhaps), you will be well rewarded,” according to the online magazine.

Last April, police raided McAfee’s compound in Orange Walk looking for guns and drugs. They also were trying to determine if McAfee was operating an illegal antibiotics laboratory on the property. Inside the compound, police discovered 10 weapons, including seven 12-gauge pump-action shotguns, one 12-gauge single-action shotgun, a Taurus 9mm pistol, and a 9mm pistol.

Police didn’t find a clandestine lab, and weapons that were discovered had permits except for one.

In July, McAfee began touting his new business venture called “observational yoga,” a practice where people would pay $200 a month to sit in a chair and watch people do yoga.

“There is a scientific basis for this, that through osmosis, as you watch others be active, the observation of something impacts yourself,” he told Westworld. “If you watch someone move in a certain way, you start to mimic that later in the day. A good example is if you watch a scary movie, you become scared. You are not being attacked, but somehow you feel the fear. It’s very popular [in Belize]. It would be very difficult to sell this concept in America. I would be shut down on all the claims that it improved health by the government. But here I can make any kind of outrageous claim that I choose and the government can see fit to say that it is okay.”

After the April raid, McAfee began spending more of his time on the island, said locals, but no one seemed to know when the feud began between the two men.

For all intents and purposes, it seemed like 52-year-old Faull was the complete opposite of the paranoid McAfee. “He was very well liked and had been visiting the island for the last 15 years,” said Faull’s friend, Amanda Syme. “He bought his home about 12 years ago.”

The gregarious Faull, who had just retired two months before his death, was an avid fisherman who loved stopping by the local pubs with his white parrot perched on his shoulder. “He had gotten fit, lost weight, and was really seeing the bright side of retirement,” said Syme.

San Pedro Mayor Guerrero said he first learned of the feud between McAfee and Faull last month, when Faull dropped off a letter to the mayor’s office complaining about McAfee’s massive fenced-in compound. According to Guerrero, Faull complained about the viciousness of McAfee’s dogs, which allegedly would charge the fence and snarl at tourists and passersby, security guards trespassing on people’s property, and traffic coming and going at all hours of the night.

“He couldn’t sleep,” said Guerrero. “The city council and the Humane Society were going to go there and talk to John about the dogs, but we just hadn’t yet.” Guerrero said he wasn’t sure if McAfee was even aware of the complaint.

“Greg loved animals. He had made a complaint about John’s dogs because they were noisy and were biting people,” added Syme. “But many people made that complaint.”

Things took an ominous turn on Nov. 10, the day before Faull was killed, after police were called to McAfee’s house when four of his 11 dogs were allegedly poisoned. Once again, however, police didn’t buy his allegations.

“There is no proof that anybody killed his dogs,” said Martinez. “When the police got there to investigate the dogs were dead and buried. The police couldn’t find anything to substantiate the claim.”

Since then, McAfee has alleged that the cops killed his dogs and set him up for the murder of Faull.

On the day of Faull’s death, Syme said, he hung out with his neighbors watching a ballgame and went to another friend’s house for dinner.

After he left his friend’s house, he was never seen alive again.

“We lost a friend,” said Guerrero. “But, I don’t want to play no sides. Nobody knows who killed him and I don’t know if they will find out.”