MEXICO CITY – Software company founder John McAfee said Monday he has fled from Belize using a bizarre ruse, adding yet another chapter in what threatens to become one of the biggest media fugitive frenzies since O.J. Simpson led police on a low-speed chase in 1994.
McAfee, 67, claimed in a blog posting he had evaded authorities by staging an elaborate distraction in neighboring Mexico.
In an email to The Associated Press, McAfee confirmed a posting to his website in which he described, in what appeared to be joking tones, how he mounted the ruse.
“My ‘double,’ carrying on (sic) a North Korean passport under my name, was detained in Mexico for pre-planned misbehavior,” McAfee wrote in the posting, “but due to indifference on the part of authorities (he) was evicted from the jail and was unable to serve his intended purpose in our exit plan.”
It was a turn typical of the bizarre saga of the eccentric anti-virus company founder wanted for questioning in connection with the killing of fellow American ex-pat Gregory Viant Faull, who was shot to death on the Belize island where they both had homes in early November.
Since then, McAfee has refused to turn himself in for questioning saying he fears Belizean police would kill him, and has titillated the media with phone calls, emails and blog posts detailing his life on the lam. It has all resulted in a rather undignified media scrum to get interviews with McAfee, complete with taunts.
Vice magazine, two of whose journalists are reportedly traveling with McAfee, posted a story on its website entitled “We Are with John McAfee Right Now, Suckers,” along with a photos showing McAfee and Vice editor-in-chief Rocco Castoro.
Wired magazine later said on its website that location information embedded in the photo shows McAfee and the journalists were at Guatemala’s Rio Dulce National Park, near the border with Belize, when the photo was taken.
A representative of the Faull family said Monday that the real issues — the murder of an American who by all accounts was well-liked by his neighbors on Belize’s Ambergris Caye — are getting lost.
“This is tragic to the family,” said Dan Keeney of Texas-based DPK Public Relations, who has issued statements on behalf of the Faull family.
A woman who answered the phone at an Orlando, Florida phone number listed for Vickie Faull confirmed she was a relative and said that Keeney spoke on behalf of the family, but had no further comment.
“Mr. McAfee is astute at media manipulation, and he’s using those skills to great effect,” said Keeney. “I would just caution the media not to let themselves be manipulated.”
Police in Belize have called McAfee a “person of interest” in the shooting death of Faull and asked him to turn himself in for questioning.
He has not been charged, however, and thus can travel at will..