MIAMI – Anti-virus software pioneer John McAfee said Thursday he is flat broke after leaving behind what remains of his fortune in Belize, where he is wanted for questioning over his neighbor’s murder.
McAfee and 20-year-old girlfriend Sam Vanegas spent more than three weeks on the run in Belize after Gregory Faull’s November 11 murder before slipping across the border into Guatemala, where he was arrested on December 5.
In the latest sudden twist to the McAfee drama, Guatemala on Wednesday abandoned efforts to return him to Belize and expelled him immediately to his country of origin, the United States.
“I have nothing now,” McAfee, a free man for now, told ABC television in Miami, claiming to have left all his worldly possessions in Belize, including, he said, some $20 million in investments and about 15 properties.
“I’ve got a pair of clothes and shoes. My friend dropped off some cash,” McAfee said, waving a short stack of bills for the TV cameras and adding that he had no idea how he would support himself or where he would live.
McAfee, who says a movie is in the works as he sells his incredible life story, told AFP his immediate focus was getting his girlfriend Sam and another friend, Amy, into the United States.
“My plan is to stay here for now, I don’t know for how long, and to bring Samantha and Amy to safety, and then go to Portland (Oregon),” he said.
He admitted to ABC that he resorted to theatrics to save himself, saying that he had played the “crazy card” to convince officials in Guatemala to send him to the United States, rather than deporting him to Belize.
McAfee admitted also faking a heart attack to buy time as he scrambled to stave off deportation to Belize and said his elaborate ruses during his time on the run helped keep the media interested, which may have saved his life.
“What’s a better story (than) ‘millionaire madman on the run’,” he told ABC. “You (the media) saved my ass, because you paid attention to the story. As long as you are reporting, it is hard to whack somebody that the world is watching.”
Authorities in Belize want to question McAfee about the death of Faull, a 52-year-old Florida expatriate who was found by his housekeeper with a 9-mm bullet in his head, lying in a pool of his own blood.
McAfee denies murdering Faull, who lived a couple of houses along on idyllic Ambergris Caye, and says he went on the run because he feared for his life if apprehended, claiming he knew too much about official corruption.
“John McAfee is still a person of interest, but not a suspect,” Miguel Segura, the assistant commissioner of police in Belize, said Thursday. “The investigation must be completed and we need to interrogate him for the case to move forward.”
Segura told local media that investigators did not have enough evidence to issue an arrest warrant or ask for McAfee’s extradition.
Belize’s Prime Minister Dean Barrow has shrugged off McAfee’s claims of official intrigue in his country, saying the American is “extremely paranoid.”
Prior to his murder, Faull had orchestrated a letter of complaint to the local mayor, urging the authorities to take action because McAfee’s “vicious” dogs and aggressive security guards were scaring tourists and residents.
McAfee shot dead four of his dogs before fleeing, claiming they had been poisoned by Faull.
Police in Belize said weeks ago that ballistics experts were seeking a match between bullets founds in the dog carcasses and one found in the murder victim, but no results have been announced.
McAfee amassed an estimated $100 million fortune during the early days of the Internet in the 1990s, designing the pioneering anti-virus software that bears his name, before cashing out to become an intrepid adventure-seeker.
He decamped to Belize in 2009 after losing most of his fortune to bad investments and the financial crisis.
McAfee was briefly incarcerated in April after police found him living with a 17-year-old girl and discovered an arsenal of seven pump-action shotguns, one single-action shotgun, and two 9-mm pistols.