Stringer / Reuters
Computer security industry pioneer John McAfee is seen speaking in San Pedro, Belize, on Thursday. McAfee told a Wired magazine reporter that he has gone into hiding in Belize because he believes authorities there are trying to frame him in the death of neighbor Gregory Faull.
BELIZE CITY - Computer security industry pioneer John McAfee says he has gone into hiding in Belize because he believes authorities there are trying to frame him in the slaying of a neighbor, a crime he says he did not commit, according to Wired magazine.
Belize police are searching for McAfee as "a person of interest" in a murder investigation.
"You can say I'm paranoid about it, but they will kill me, there is no question. They've been trying to get me for months. They want to silence me," Wired quoted McAfee as saying on its website. "I am not well liked by the prime minister. I am just a thorn in everybody's side."
The magazine reported that McAfee, 67, contacted one of its reporters by telephone after his neighbor Gregory Faull, was found dead on Sunday in a pool of blood. The 52-year-old American was apparently shot in the head.
Police say McAfee had a history of conflict with Faull.
According to Wired, Faull and other neighbors had been complaining about a half-dozen dogs that McAfee kept at his beachside compound. Wired reported that McAfee sent an email to a reporter Friday night saying his dogs had been poisoned that night and alleging that Belize authorities were responsible.
The reporter said that he spoke to McAfee on Saturday morning and McAfee said he didn’t believe any of his neighbors would poison his dogs. Wired quoted McAfee speaking of Faull: “This is not something he would ever do. I mean, he’s an angry sort of guy but he would never hurt a dog.”
Faull was found dead on Sunday with a gunshot wound to the back of his head.
McAfee, who amassed a fortune by building the anti-virus company that bears his name, has homes and businesses in the Central American country. Police say he has lived for at least two years, but Wired said he moved there in 2008.
It was not the first time McAfee, who has tattoos, a goatee and moustache, and a penchant for guns, has drawn police attention.
His premises were raided earlier this year after he was accused of holding firearms, though most were found to be licensed. The final outcome of the case is pending.
He was also suspected of running a lab to make the synthetic drug crystal meth.
Stringer / Reuters
American businessman Gregory Faull, seen in August, was found dead at his homee in Belize.
"He was suspected (of making crystal meth) but he was not convicted nor was he charged. He was only suspected," said Belize police spokesman Raphael Martinez.
McAfee also owns a security company in Belize as well as several properties and an ecological enterprise.
Reuters has been unable to reach McAfee, who police want to question.
"It would be quite nice for him to come in and answer some of the questions that could lead to the closure of this case," Martinez said. "He is not wanted for murder, but he is wanted for questioning as a person of interest."
The Belize police department has reached out to counterparts in neighboring Mexico and Guatemala, asking them to detain McAfee if he leaves Belize overland.
McAfee was one of Silicon Valley's first entrepreneurs to amass a fortune by building a business off the Internet.
The former Lockheed systems consultant started McAfee Associates in 1989, initially distributing anti-virus software as "shareware" on Internet bulletin boards.
He took the company public in 1992 and left two years later following accusations that he had hyped the arrival of a virus known as Michelangelo, which turned out to be a dud, to scare computer users into buying his company's products.
McAfee currently has no relationship with the software company, which has since been sold to Intel Corp.
NBC News staff and Reuters contributed to this report.
More world stories from NBC News:
- As Taliban regroup, victims battle for 'free' Afghanistan
- New 'intelligence' body set to fight trade in world's treasures
- Understanding the beauty of Indonesia's 'Underwater Eden'
- Q&A: Sex abuse scandal rocks the BBC
- Casino mogul's GOP donations put spotlight on Macau
- China's power transfer grinds on amid widespread indifference
- Sweeping child abuse scandal shakes BBC, other UK institutions
- West Bank's centuries-old olive harvest tradition under threat
- On Twitter, pope to reach out to new followers