In a modern equivalent of sending taunting letters to police, runaway software pioneer John McAfee is offering a series of blog entries, including claims to have hidden in plain sight while the authorities searched his house.
The developer of the anti-virus software that bears his name, Mr. McAfee vanished after his neighbour in Belize was found dead this month. He is being sought as a person of interest in Gregory Faull’s death and has gone underground, arguing that police are trying to frame and murder him.
He maintains his innocence on the blog, which describes elaborate disguises that have allowed him to keep tabs on police investigating him. In one, he darkened his skin with shoe polish, changed the shape of his nose with a shaved-down tampon and dressed as a local peddlar. In another, he pretended to be “a drunk German tourist with a partially bandaged face and wearing speedo swimming trunks and a distasteful, oversized Hawaiian shirt and yelling [obscenities] loudly at anyone who would listen.”
The blog, little of which can be verified, also includes repeated digressions into the sins of journalists and his extended thoughts on the bar-girls of Belize. It’s an entertaining read – he describes one woman alleged to be helping him as “street smart as a sober hobo” and tells of a reporter chasing the story almost buying a trinket from Mr. McAfee while he was in local garb – but one whose apparent goal is to show that he and those close to him are being persecuted.
“After the murder of Mr. Faul (sic), the police began a systematic roundup of my friends and associates,” he writes at one point. “The list will grow. I am asking all people of conscience to read this blog ... and see the ugly truth unfolding here. Speak out. Write your congressmen. Write the Prime Minister. Do what you can. These people are suffering and will continue to do so irrespective of my actions. They will become yet another bleak statistic in the web of injustice clutching the heart of this country.”
The British-born American has lived for years in Belize, where he appeared to fear for his safety. He admits carrying a pistol for protection, hired bodyguards and a sign photographed on the fence on his property shows a smoking revolver and the words “never mind the dog; beware of owner.”
He began to run afoul of police this past spring. In April the authorities raided his home and said he was suspected of involvement in a crystal meth lab. He was later accused of possession of an illegal weapon. He alleges the charges went nowhere. He had further troubles after falling out with his neighbour. Mr. Faull, a fellow American, allegedly didn’t like Mr. McAfee’s dogs, four of which were poisoned this year.
Mr. McAfee initially blamed Mr. Faull for the dogs’ death but later concluded it was the security forces. He has admitted being on the outs with his neighbour but told The Associated Press that “the world is full of annoyances; if we killed all of our annoyances, there would be nobody left.”
While on the run he has also made a series of phone calls to Wired Magazine’s Joshua Davis, who describes him as “a complex man” whose guilt or innocence remains to be seen.
The case has shone a spotlight on the justice system in Belize and the political ripples have reached right to the top. In remarks widely quoted last week, Prime Minister Dean Barrow slammed the “calumnies” being lobbed by Mr. McAfee at security forces in the country and questioned his mental state.
“I don't want to be unkind to the gentleman, but I believe he is extremely paranoid, even bonkers,” Mr. Barrow said. “Mr. McAfee is a person of interest. His reaction to being a person of interest is, to put it very mildly, hugely exaggerated.”
That assessment may be buttressed by the appearance on the weekend of Mr. McAfee’s blog. The first entry – which consisted largely of bitter attacks on journalists – went online Saturday.
“I need to tell my story,” it reads. “I will have to tell it in short increments because I have limited and intermittent access to a computer and the Internet. I am on the run, remember.”