MIAMI BEACH, Fla. – Anti-virus software founder John McAfee said Thursday that U.S. authorities have made no efforts to question him since he arrived in Miami after weeks of evading Belizean authorities who want to ask him about the death of his neighbour.
“Why would they want to question me, about what?” a tired-looking but sharply dressed McAfee said Thursday from the steps of his South Beach hotel. The multimillionaire was characteristically chatty and seemed to enjoy posing for pictures with tourists and signing autographs while talking about his two girlfriends and the alleged corruption in Belize that forced him to flee.
McAfee was deported from Guatemala after sneaking in illegally from Belize, where police want to question him in connection with the death of a U.S. expatriate who lived near him on an island off Belize’s coast. U.S officials said there was no active arrest warrant for McAfee that would justify taking him into custody.
He said he was put on a plane to Miami where he will stay until his two girlfriends, 20-year-old Belizean Samantha Vanegas, and a woman he called “Amy” can join him.
“I had the warmest welcome of my life. The captain patted me on the shoulders and said, ‘We’re here to help you, sir, please come with us,’” McAfee told a throng of reporters camped outside his hotel Thursday.
The 67-year-old British native said he has no money and no home in the U.S. and has been getting by on cash that a Canadian friend sent him until his property manager comes to Miami with his cash and credit cards.
If he’s reunited with the women, he said he doesn’t know where he’ll live or how he’ll rebuild his life. Over the weekend, he said he would be happy to go to England, noting he has dual citizenship.
McAfee bristled as reporters repeatedly asked him why he won’t answer questions from officials in Belize, denying he was under investigation. He stressed that he was afraid to answer questions because dozens of officials there stormed his property, killed his dogs, handcuffed him for hours and tried to extort money. He has not been charged with a crime.
“If they didn’t want to harm me, why have they been harming my property and my dogs? Now 5 of my dogs have been killed,” said McAfee, claiming authorities shot one of his dogs in the head and raided his house eight times.
He said he had no choice but to flee because “there was a nationwide manhunt for me” and he worried he would be thrown in a cell and silenced if captured. Officials in Belize also trumped of charges against him for running a meth lab out of his home and hiring security guards without a license, he said.
“Did I kill Mr. Faull? No, let me be clear. I had absolutely nothing to do with the murder in Belize.”
He begged the State Department to expedite visas for his girlfriend. Vanegas had accompanied him when he was on the run, but did not go with him to the U.S.
McAfee said he faked a heart attack in Guatemala to give his lawyer enough time to file motions keeping him from returning to Belize.
“Immediately after, I got well,” he deadpanned.
McAfee’s expulsion from Guatemala marked the last chapter in a strange, monthlong odyssey to avoid police questioning about the November killing of American expatriate Gregory Viant Faull, who lived a couple of houses down from McAfee’s compound on Ambergris Caye, off Belize’s Caribbean coast.
McAfee has acknowledged that his dogs were bothersome and that Faull had complained about them days before some of the dogs were poisoned. The two did not get along, he said.
“He hated my dogs. I was not fond of him. I wasn’t fond of any of my neighbours. I’m not fond of most people who drink.” he said, adding most people on the island thought he was a “weirdo” because he doesn’t drink.
By Thursday afternoon, dozens of reporters and tourists were camped on a palm-tree lined street outside historic South Beach hotels listening eagerly as McAfee’s comments strayed from his life on the lam to random topics and amusing one-liners.
At one pointed he chided reporters for being rude to each other, then turned on TV viewers: “You people at home seriously what are you doing? You’re living your lives through other people, through me.”
He was in hiding in Belize for weeks after police pronounced him a person of interest in the killing. Belizean authorities have urged him to show up for questioning, but have not lodged any formal charges against him. McAfee has said he feared he would be killed if he turned himself in to Belizean authorities.
Belize’s prime minister, Dean Barrow, has expressed doubts about McAfee’s mental state, saying: “I don’t want to be unkind to the gentleman, but I believe he is extremely paranoid, even bonkers.”
McAfee is an acknowledged practical joker who has dabbled in yoga, ultra-light aircraft and the production of herbal medications. He has led an eccentric life since he sold his stake in the software company named after him in the early 1990s and moved to Belize about three years ago to lower his taxes.
He told The New York Times in 2009 that he had lost all but $4 million of his $100 million fortune in the U.S. financial crisis. However, a story on the Gizmodo website quoted him as describing that claim as “not very accurate at all.”