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McAfee founder surfaces in Guatemala after giving Belize the slip

December 04, 2012|By Christine Mai-Duc
  • Software company founder John McAfee, right, accompanied by his girlfriend "Sam," exits a news conference outside the Supreme Court in Guatemala City on Tuesday. McAfee, 67, who has been identified as a "person of interest" in the killing of his neighbor in Belize, has surfaced in public for the first time in weeks, saying Tuesday that he plans to ask for asylum in Guatemala because he fears persecution in Belize, though it's unclear why he would need asylum because his travel has not been restricted.
Software company founder John McAfee, right, accompanied by his girlfriend… (Moises Castillo / Associated…)

Where's John McAfee?

After a whirlwind of confusion about his whereabouts in recent days, the quasi-fugitive surfaced Tuesday in Guatemala for a news conference, dapper in a trim pinstripe suit and flanked by a newly attained lawyer and the 20-year-old girlfriend he says he intends to wed.

For nearly a month, McAfee has evaded officials in Belize, after he was named a “person of interest” in the death of his neighbor, Gregory Faull, who was found face-up in a pool of blood on Ambergris Caye, a tiny island where McAfee had moved to retire.

Belize officials maintain that the antivirus software mogul is merely wanted for questioning and is not a suspect. McAfee insists that if captured, the Belizean government would kill him.

The stranger-than-fiction events that have unfolded over the weeks following Faull’s murder have provided plenty of fodder for drama-starved tech journalists -- guns, drugs, poisoned dogs, plenty of young women, a body double and a North Korean passport all play into the saga.

A blog, penned by McAfee, has documented his life on the run and the many disguises along the way: tamale vendor, Guatemalan crafts hawker and even a Speedo-clad German tourist.

But in the last 24 hours, things have gotten much, much weirder. First, McAfee’s secret location was seemingly revealed by two Vice journalists and travel companions, who posted a photo with location data suggesting he was in Guatemala.

Then a post on McAfee’s blog claimed that he’d doctored the metadata to throw police off his trail, apologizing to Vice for “manipulating their recently published photo.” And finally, this morning, an admission: McAfee had indeed snuck out of Belize and was shacking up at a posh resort in Guatemala City.

“I apologize for all of the misdirections over the past few days,” he wrote in his Tuesday morning missive. “It was not easy to exit Belize and required many supporters in many countries.”

McAfee said he will now seek asylum in Guatemala, though it’s not clear why he would need it, since his travel has not been restricted. “I will answer any questions that you may have over the phone,” said McAfee in his latest dispatch. “If I am indeed merely wanted for questioning, this should suffice.”

Meanwhile, Belize police spokesman Raphael Martinez said the trail has gone cold in Faull’s murder case, even as investigators continue to mine leads. He also said, despite McAfee’s posts and dozens of media reports, that the tech mogul is still in the country but conceded police were not actively pursuing him. “Honestly, we don’t have the manpower to do a nationwide manhunt,” said Martinez, who said McAfee was “seemingly out of his mind.”

Faull’s family has said through a spokesman that justice for the murder has been buried in the media frenzy. In recent weeks, McAfee has been interviewed by CNBC, CNN, Wired, ABC, and the Associated Press, and has for days been in the company of two writers for Vice, which has revived gonzo journalism for the digital age.

The online magazine, which says it will produce a documentary about the journey, released a video of McAfee on the run, in which he introduces himself as “Paul,” supposedly telephones a fake tip about his capture in Mexico and nervously asks about security at a Belize checkpoint.

“I believe Mr. McAfee has a responsibility to share all he knows,” said Daniel Keeney, spokesman for Faull's family. Keeney added that the family “hasn’t been able to arrive at that place of peace or closure” as a result of McAfee’s ongoing antics.

“There’s no shortage of bizarre here.”


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McAfee proclaims innocence, alters look to evade Belize police

John McAfee, on the run from Belize police, says he's 'innocent'


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