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McAfee founder says he is innocent in Belize killing

12:30 PM, Nov 13, 2012   |    comments
Anti-virus pioneer John McAfee during a May 2 interview with News 5 Belize about an April 30 raid of his home and compound by the country's Gang Suppression Unit. He was arrested for unlicensed drug manufacturing and illegal firearms. The government later dropped all charges.(Photo: News5 Belize)
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Doug Stanglin
USA Today

2:47PM EST November 13. 2012 - John McAfee, the eccentric anti-virus software pioneer wanted in Belize as a "person of interest" in the shooting death of a neighbor, has told Wired by phone that he is innocent and fears that he may have been the actual target of gunmen who went to the wrong house.

McAfee, who went into hiding in the Central American country, told Wired's Joshua Davis by phone on Monday that he had been at his house next door to the shootings on Sunday when police came to investigate the case, but that he was hiding in the sand with a cardboard box over his head.

McAfee feared that he would be killed if discovered, he told Wired.

Police were investigating the killing of Gregory Faull, a 52-year-old American expatriate who lived next door to McAfee on Ambergris Caye, an island off the coast of Belize.

Faull was found dead in a pool of blood early Sunday by a housekeeper. A computer and phone were missing from his home.

"Losing Greg leaves a hole in our hearts and our lives," his family said in a statement. "We urge law enforcement authorities in Belize and internationally to bring those responsible to justice quickly."

Raphael Martinez, spokesman for Belize's Ministry of National Security, told the Associated Press that no charges have been filed in the case, describing McAfee only as a "person of interest" for police.

"It's too early in the investigation. To say he is a suspect would be a bold statement," Martinez said.

McAfee, 67, told Wired that he knew nothing about the Faull shooting, except that his neighbor, a builder from Florida, had been shot.

"I thought maybe they were coming for me," McAfee told Davis. "They mistook him for me. They got the wrong house. He's dead. They killed him. It spooked me out."

One resident of the island told the AP that Faull had complained about McAfee's behavior, and others said the former software executive was hard to befriend.

Jeff Wise, writing for Gizmodo, reported on Monday that McAfee and Faull had been "at odds for some time."

"Last Wednesday, Faull filed a formal complaint against McAfee with the mayor's office, asserting that McAfee had fired off guns and exhibited 'roguish behavior,' " Gizmodo reported. "Their final disagreement apparently involved dogs."

Wired's Davis said he got an e-mail Friday night from McAfee in which he said four of his dogs had been poisoned, blaming it on Belizean authorities with a vendetta against him.

"The coast guard dropped off a contingent of black-suited thugs at 10:30 tonight at the dock next door," McAfee wrote in the e-mail to Davis Friday night. "They dispersed on the beach. A half hour later all of my dogs had been poisoned. Mellow, Lucky, Dipsy, and Guerrero have already died."

Some residents told the AP that McAfee seemed standoffish and not friendly.

"His physical appearance doesn't really inspire you to go over and make friends with him. He's a little scruffy looking," one real estate agent, Bob Hamilton, told the AP.

The case was the latest twist in McAfee's recent life as an eccentric yoga lover. He sold his stake in his software company in the early 1990s and moved to Belize about three years ago to lower his taxes.

He told The New York Times in 2009 that he had lost all but $4 million of his $100 million fortune in the U.S. financial crisis.

Last April, Belize police raided McAfee's home looking for drugs and guns. McAfee said officers found guns, which he said were legal, and he was released without charge after being detained for a few hours.

Gizmodo also reported that McAfee was involved in the "intensive use of psychosis-inducing hallucinogens" and that this "would go a long way toward explaining his growing estrangement from his friends and from the community around him."

Ambergris Today, however, reported that McAfee recently donated equipment -- tasers, handcuffs, flashing lights, metal detectors, pistol belts, pepper spray and batons -- to the San Pedro Police Department, and helped provide the police with housing for five officers and a boat for transportation.

The newspaper's website on Tuesday carried several photographs of McAfee appearing with the San Pedro Mayor and police officials last Thursday to donate the equipment and to address the group.

Contributing: The Associated Press

 

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