Vulnerabilities / Threats
10:25 AM

McAfee Founder Says Belize Framing Him For Murder

Millionaire John McAfee, who founded the eponymous antivirus vendor -- since bought by Intel -- says he's being framed by Belizean authorities in a murder case and is now on the run.

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Pioneering antivirus developer John McAfee is now a prime suspect in a murder investigation in Belize, where he remains at large.

Police said that the body of McAfee's 52-year-old neighbor, U.S. national Gregory Viant Faull, was discovered Sunday in San Pedro Town, located on the Belize island of Ambergris Caye. "His housekeeper ... arrived at Mr. Faull's home where she found him in a motionless state lying in a pool of blood," said Belizean police press officer Raphael Martinez, reported 7 News Belize. "The police were called and the scene was processed -- where one 9mm expended shell was recovered. The body has an apparent gunshot wound to the back of the head." Police said Faull's laptop and iPhone were missing.

After the murder, police said they searched McAfee's residence and confiscated numerous weapons, but didn't find McAfee himself. That's because McAfee, a dual American and British citizen who relocated to Belize in 2008, is on the run. He'd seen the police coming Sunday and so buried himself in the sand, shielding his face with cardboard so he could breathe. "It was extraordinarily uncomfortable," he told Wired Monday. "But they will kill me if they find me."

[ The bad guys keep developing new tactics. Read Malware Tools Get Smarter To Nab Financial Data. ]

This isn't McAfee's first brush with Belizean authorities. On April 30, 2012, McAfee was arrested by police in Belize during a search of his property for drugs and unlicensed firearms. Police later dropped the charges, which McAfee said amounted to a shakedown.

But according to a police press release, reported The San Pedro Sun, officers found that McAfee was running what he claimed was an antibiotic manufacturing operation, for which he's not licensed. Officers removed samples of the antibiotics for testing. During the raid, police also found 10 firearms, including two 9mm pistols, one of which was unlicensed. But according to Wired reporter Joshua Davis, "McAfee says both of his 9mm guns were confiscated by the police during the April raid."

McAfee, who told Davis he's innocent and knows nothing about the murder, claims that the government is trying to kill him, after having poisoned his dogs, which were the subject of neighbors' complaints. "The coast guard dropped off a contingent of black-suited thugs at 10:30 tonight at the dock next door," McAfee told Davis via email Friday. "They dispersed on the beach. A half hour later all of my dogs had been poisoned. Mellow, Lucky, Dipsy, and Guerrero have already died."

Is McAfee now being framed for Faull's murder? Mark Vidal, who heads the Belize Police Department's anti-gang unit, told Wired that there was "absolutely no truth" to such allegations. "This guy amazes me every day. We don't have anything personal against Mr. McAfee. There is no need for us to poison dogs," he said.

McAfee founded the antivirus firm McAfee Associates in 1987, pioneering the practice of distributing antivirus software as shareware. The company, which was later renamed Network Associates, and then McAfee, was bought by chipmaker Intel in 2010 for $7.68 billion.

A 2010 profile in Fast Company suggests that McAfee had been moving his assets to Belize to protect them against potential claims stemming from five civil lawsuits that he said had been filed against him. One of those lawsuits resulted from a 2009 aerotrekking accident involving his 22-year-old nephew, Joel Gordon Bitow, who died while flying through a desert canyon with a passenger. Bitow had allegedly been hired by McAfee to run his flight school, even though Bitow wasn't a fully licensed pilot.

McAfee's behavior sometimes appears to verge toward eccentricity, if not paranoia. Earlier this year, McAfee told Mensa Bulletin that as the world's first commercial antivirus software developer, he was regularly attacked by hackers trying to make their name, and that as a result he never purchased computer equipment himself, regularly employed pseudonyms, and changed his IP address multiple times per day.

Gizmodo last week reported that McAfee's behavior "has become increasingly erratic, and by his own admission he had begun associating with some of the most notorious gangsters in Belize."

Since McAfee's relocation to Belize, he's reportedly been researching MMDV, a psychoactive drug that has stimulant properties.

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User Rank: Apprentice
11/13/2012 | 7:58:49 PM
re: McAfee Founder Says Belize Framing Him For Murder
It's because the guy, by all appearances, is flat out nuts.

I guess I won't be moving to Belize anytime soon... now that I know the police have a need for an "anti'gang unit" and that there are "notorious gangsters" around.

Geez, I thought that Belize was a quiet tropical gettaway for US ex pats...
User Rank: Apprentice
11/13/2012 | 7:37:47 PM
re: McAfee Founder Says Belize Framing Him For Murder
I'm guessing that Mr. McAfee is rich enough to hire competent counsel; but if he knew the government was hostile to him, why didn't he leave the country before now? It's not like he didn't have anywhere else to go.
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