CNN Exclusive: McAfee comes out of hiding to talk about life on the run
The journey to interview Internet security guru John McAfee began with a secret phrase, a mysterious driver and a circuitous route full of left turns, right turns and U-turns.
It concluded at a safe house on a tropical island paradise, where the 67-year-old was waiting in disguise --as an old man with salt and pepper hair -- to tell his bizarre tale.
"It hasn't been a lot of fun. I miss my prior life. Much of it has been deprivation. No baths, poor food," McAfee told CNN Friday in his first on-camera interview since going on the run from Belize authorities who want to question him in the killing of his neighbor.
Three people have been detained for questioning in the killing, police have said, and investigators are pursuing multiple leads.
Belize authorities say they only want to talk to McAfee about the November 11 shooting death of American businessman Gregory Faull, who was found dead in his home near San Pedro, on the Caribbean island of Ambergris Caye.
The case began to unfold on November 9, when McAfee told police someone poisoned four of his dogs. To put them out of their misery, he shot each in the head and buried them on his property, a former girlfriend said.
Officials say the dogs' barking and aggressive behavior was a frequent source of friction between McAfee and Faull, a 52-year-old contractor who retired to Belize from Florida and lived next door.
Two days later someone shot Faull in the head in his own living room. A 9 mm shell was found on the second step on the first floor, and Faull was found dead on the second floor.
During the interview, McAfee said he did not kill Faull and did not pay anybody to kill the man.
So why not surrender to police for questioning? "I will not," McAfee said, adding his priority is to clear his name.
To hear McAfee, who is not a suspect, tell it: He's a man on the run, afraid for his life, from authorities who he has been at odds with since refusing to pay a bribe to a politician months earlier.
McAfee is so fearful, he says, that he carries up to a dozen disposable cell phones at one time. He estimates he has gone through 200 since he fled more than three weeks ago.
In fact, he only agreed to an interview with CNN after a number of conversations that involved middle men, telephone calls with ever changing numbers and, finally, a cloak and dagger meeting complete with a secret phrase and response.
The phrase: "Sorry I'm late."
The response: "That's OK, we are waiting for our co-worker."
McAfee's near daily "catch me if you can" game is wearing thin with investigators, who are baffled and angered by the allegations.
Recently, he began a blog -- www.whoismcafee.com -- to chronicle his time on the run, the media's portrayal of him and what he describes as harassment by the Belize government.
The longer it all goes on, the more suspicious police become.
McAfee doesn't know how the story will play out. "I don't have a crystal ball. I'm going to fight until something changes," he said.
"I will certainly not turn myself in, and I will certainly not quit fighting. I will not stop my blog."
For the software security pioneer, the end will come only if he's arrested or he gets away from corrupt officials.
"Get away doesn't mean leave the country. It means they will, No. 1, find the murderer of Mr. Faull and, No. 2, the people of this country -- who are by and large terrified to speak out -- start speaking out," he said.
McAfee founded his namesake computer security software in 1987, running it initially out of his home in California. He sold his stake in McAfee Associates in 1994.
A 2009 story in the New York Times indicated his fortune had plunged to $4 million from its $100 million peak, due largely to the real estate and stock market crashes that hit his investments.
McAfee moved to Belize in 2008. And in February 2010, he started QuorumEx, which claims on its website to be trying to "re-invent the way modern medicine combats and disarms pathogenic bacteria."