John McAfee insisted he did not kill his neighbor, but the Internet antivirus pioneer told a reporter Tuesday he feared police in the Central American nation of Belize would kill him if they find him.
Investigators want to talk to McAfee about the weekend shooting death of his neighbor Gregory Faull, but they've been unable to find him.
Faull, 52, was found dead in his home near San Pedro, Belize, on the Caribbean island of Ambergris Caye, with a gunshot wound to the back of his head, according national police spokesman Raphael Martinez.
The killing happened a day after McAfee's dogs died from poisoning, according to Wired Magazine reporter Joshua Davis. Faull had frequently complained about the dogs barking, Davis said.
"The dogs were poisoned on Friday night, they died very quickly," Davis said. "Sometime between Saturday night and Sunday morning, Mr. Faull was killed."
McAfee denied killing Faull in a phone call to Davis Tuesday afternoon, Davis said.
"He says that he's had very little contact with Greg over the past three years," he said. "They've spoken maybe 50 words total. Nonetheless, there was antagonism there. McAfee admits that."
McAfee told Davis that when police visited his home Sunday he was able to hide from them.
"McAfee saw them coming and he dug a hole in the sand and buried himself in the sand, he says, and he put a cardboard box over his head so he could breath," Davis told CNN. "He said it was extremely uncomfortable, but he believes that the police will kill him if he turns himself in."
"My goodness," Martinez said when asked about McAfee's fear. "He needs to come in so that we can clear the air. We are law-abiding people here. We follow the laws to the letter. We believe at this point that he has absolutely no fear of being killed by anybody."
McAfee is not a suspect, Martinez said. He is a person police want to talk with "to clarify the situation, to allay the fears of everybody that perhaps he is indeed involved in the murder of his neighbor." The two men's homes are about 300 yards apart, according to Martinez.
Investigators are speaking to another person as they pursue multiple leads, said Martinez.
McAfee's "conflict with the government goes quite a bit back," Davis said.
A gang suppression squad raided one of his properties in April and charged him with running a methamphetamine lab and illegal arms possession, Davis said. Those charges were later dropped.
"Ever since then, McAfee thinks he's been harassed by the police," Davis said. "And I directly confronted him on this and I said 'Maybe you're paranoid.' He talks about police hiding in bushes and stalking."
Davis, who has spent time with McAfee in recent months, said he has at times "wondered if there was something bad that was going to happen."
"I do agree that he is a very eccentric multi-millionaire and I also felt fear with him," he said.
McAfee is the founder of the Internet security company that bears his name, but he left it in 1994 and has not been affiliated with the firm since then, said company spokeswoman Kimberly Eichorn.
According to his alma mater, Roanoke College, McAfee graduated from that Virginia school in 1967 as a mathematics major. He went on to found several tech companies and launch groundbreaking products, including a voice recognition system Interpath in 1981, McAfee in 1988, and the instant messaging pioneer Tribal Voice in 1996.
Faull, a construction contractor from central Florida, moved to Belize this year "intending to transition to more adventures based in Belize," a statement from his family said.
"Several years ago, he purchased a house on Ambergris Cay in Belize that had been badly damaged in a hurricane," the family said. "Using his talent in construction and his experience as a contractor and restaurant owner, Greg worked part-time for the past three years to rebuild the home. He recently completed work and had the property ready to offer as a vacation rental when he was murdered."