by Rachel Ogbu
John McAfee, 66, co-founder of McAfee virus software is now the prime suspect in the murder of American expatriate Gregory Faull, a local builder who was shot on Saturday at his home.
Head of Belize police force’s Gang Suppression Unit Marco Vidal believes McAfee is on the run. McAfee who has been in hiding in Belize since his home was raided for allegedly harboring illegal drugs and weapons and running a ‘meth lab’ had a misunderstanding with the deceased for some time and last week Faull filed a formal complaint against McAfee saying he had fired guns and exhibited ‘roguish behaviour’.
A police report said that Faull’s housekeeper found the 52-year-old ‘lying face up in a pool of blood with an apparent gunshot wound on the upper rear part of his head, apparently dead’.
Last week, Gizmodo reported that McAfee’s relationships with other expats in the area had been deteriorating and that he had started associating with some of Belize’s ‘most notorious gangsters’.
He is also thought to have been struggling with the after-effects of mind-altering drugs like bath salts, which he often posted about on drugs-focused internet message boards.
He wrote in one: ‘I’m a huge fan of MDPV. I think it’s the finest drug ever conceived, not just for the indescribable hypersexuality, but also for the smooth euphoria and mild comedown.’
Recently building up to the alleged murder, McAfee had made news for all the wrong reasons from his internet security software being in danger of being wiped out by a series of lawsuits and the financial crash to leaving the company he built, running a meth lab and dating under aged girls.
McAfee made $100million after developing the software in the eighties and was known as one of the biggest success stories to come out of the digital age.
The tattooed tycoon – born in Britain and raised in the U.S. – had tried to build a new life by starting an antibiotics firm in the tiny Central American country and is rumored to have set up home with a 17-year-old girl.
The age of consent in Belize is 16-years-old for both sexes.
But earlier this year his new venture fell apart when he was arrested because he refused to donate money to a local politician.
After his company suffered setbacks, the yoga lover moved to Belize in 2008 and then launched a bid to make antibiotics from jungle plants. As of 2009 his fortune, once valued at $100million, had fallen to $4million.
That year he finished liquidating his U.S. real estate holdings which included 280-acres in Colorado, a beachfront estate in Hawaii, properties in Arizona and Texas, and a ranch in Rodeo, New Mexico.
He had long since left the company that bore his name, having cashed out of the antivirus company in 1994.
He has had a series of much-younger girlfriends and followed his passions, saying in 2007, ‘Success for me is, Can you wake up in the morning and feel like a 12-year-old?’
In May, he revealed his current legal ordeal at the hands of security forces who shot dead his dog, seized his passport and left him handcuffed for 14 hours in the sun without food and water.
They then placed him in a squalid prison cell where he had to sleep on the floor with four others, the Gizmodo reported.
‘Having spent one night already sleeping on the concrete floor of the Belize City jail I am not excited about the prospect of returning’, Gizmodo quoted him as saying on a private message board.
McAfee said there were no beds in prison and a milk carton served as a toilet for everybody – until a drunk entered the cell at 1am and kicked it over.
Revealing that he had not left his one-room hideout for five days, McAfee posted that he had no cable or satellite TV, no books and just three DVDS – The Human Stain, Tierra and Naked.
He had an iPad but no charger, so was ‘rationing’ its use.
Whereas the device’s remaining charge was at 21 per cent at the start of the post, he revealed it was down to only 17 per cent when he logged off.
‘For those of you who follow the news in Central America, you will know that I am in hiding in an undisclosed location in Belize,’ said Mr McAfee.
‘Hiding out is no fun. I’ve always wondered why people on the run turn themselves in in many cases.
‘I now know the answer – boredom.’
In an interview with Belize’s News 5 on May 2, McAfee described the raid on his home in Orange Walk, Belize City, two days before.
He said he was woken up at 6am by the sound of bullhorns.
‘I went outside and saw about 30 GSU [Belize’s Gang Suppression Unit] in full uniform, fully dressed, automatic weapons, storming through the property and driveway.
‘I went back inside, got some clothes on, I came out. I was told to put up my hands up against the wall as were eleven other people in the compound.
‘It began, innocently enough, with my refusal to donate to the local political boss of the district where I lived in Orange Walk and I have given at least $2million in gifts to the police departments in Orange Walk, San Pedro, Belize City.’
The GSU said they found a cache of weapons at McAfee’s property and that he did not have a licence to manufacture drugs.
In a statement, the GSU said: ‘Present on the premises at the time were John McAfee, his girlfriend who is a 17-year-old Belizean girl and five security guards.
‘During the search ten firearms – seven 12-gauge pump action shotguns, one 12-gauge single action shotgun, one Taurus nine-millimetre pistol and one nine-millimetre CZ pistol were found.’
Five air rifles and 270 12-gauge cartridges were also found, officers said.
In the private message-board post seen by Gizmodo, McAfee said the GSU have since issued additional charges ‘but have not divulged what they might be’.
He added: ‘My lawyers tell me there is absolutely nothing to worry about, so that makes me very worried.’
The Gizmodo site reported McAfee as saying the original warrant produced when authorities searched his home claimed he was operating a meth lab.
McAfee told the site: ‘In the Third World such a thing is a serious crime – the drug companies don’t particularly like people interfering with their business.
‘But basically what I developed is a topical antiseptic. That’s what they claimed was my meth lab.’
But Gizmodo said Belize government officials would not confirm that they had accused McAfee of running a meth lab ‘or even that there was a raid, for that matter’.
‘We spent hours on the phone trying to find out what happened, bouncing from one police official to another.’
Eric Heyden, public affairs officer for the American Embassy in Belize, told Gizmodo: ‘I don’t have any general information about his case.
‘I am as perplexed and confused as you are as to why the Gang Suppression Unit would be taking action about a private American citizen.’
McAfeegrew up in England but moved to America as a child.
He graduated from Roanoke College in 1967 with a degree in mathematics and studied further mathematics at Virginia Tech until 1970.
As part of the electronics boom centred around California and Stanford University in particular, McAfee held down around a dozen different jobs in the area in the software industry.
He also set up an adult dating service called American Institute for Safe Sex Practices, which issued identification cards for people who tested HIV-negative.
It was during the mid 1980’s that McAfee was working for Lockheed Corporation when he began designing his anti-virus software.
He developed antivirus computer programs and in 1989 started working full-time at his own company McAfee Associates, which he ran from his home in Santa Clara, California.
Operating out of his one-bedroom farmhouse on Cheeney street in Santa Clara, California, he promoted his new eponymous software with the help of shareware – offering it for free initially to individuals, but charging them and large companies licenses to continue using it.
By 1992, more than half of the Fortune 100 companies had purchased licenses to use the software.
McAfee’s key helpers in his early days were his wife at the time Judy, who also worked as a flight attendant with United Airlines and his right-hand man Aryeh Goretsky, who still operates within Silicone Valley.
Bizarrely, as the company expanded to larger offices he employed three Wiccan witches to beat hand drums on the offices front lawn, a handful of employees regularly practiced sword fights and others rehearsed Shakespeare.
It is also rumored that during these formative years, a group of employees began an office tournament to see who could have sex in different locations around the Santa Clara headquarters.
‘It was meant to be very tongue-in-cheek,’ said Chris Harget, a former product manager who declined to get involved with these activities.
Indeed, although he denied knowledge of that game, McAfee did encourage creativity.
‘I didn’t look down on anything as long as work got done,’ said McAfee in an interview with the San Jose Mercury News from 2001.
‘We had lots of fun.’
Riding the wave of his incredible initial success, McAfee became disillusioned with his company as it increased in size.
It is said that on his 1992 round-the-world show to pitch his initial public offering, the entrepreneur would dip into hotel lobby’s and entertain passers-by with New Age compositions on the piano.
In 1994, he cashed in his share in his own company and moved to his secluded mansion in Woodland Park, Colorado, where he started the revolutionary Tribal Voice, a service which provided one of the first instant messaging services, predating Skype and Facebook by a decade.
McAfee floated the company in New York in 1992 and had sold up completely by 1994 – making about £70m.
He later moved into property development and taught yoga.
After Tribal Voice was sold for $17million in 1999, McAfee turned his attention to finding a different direction in his life, furthering his interests in yoga, jet skiing and developing his new sport, aerotrekking.
This involved flying small vehicles with large tarpaulin wingspans very low at 75-miles an hour close to the ground, which McAfee wanted to popularize as a national sport.
The millionaire bought a ranch in New Mexico and added another air-strip and gathered fellow trike enthusiasts to the property who called themselves ‘Sky Gypsies’.
However, in late 2006, his nephew called Joel Gordon Bitow took a 61-year old passenger named Robert Gilson aerotrekking and fatally crashed.
A $5 million lawsuit was brought against McAfee by the family of Robert Gilson, claiming that Bitow was illegally serving as an instructor.
In fact, it is claimed that this wrongful death lawsuit was one of the precipitating factors in McAfee leaving the United States to set up his new life in Belize.
The lawsuit’s status at this moment in time is unknown but it was filed at the Superior Court of Maricopa County, Arizona.