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Anti-Virus Software Pioneer On The Run In Belize

Audie Cornish talks with Wired contributing editor Joshua Davis about anti-virus software pioneer John McAfee. McAfee is wanted for questioning in the death of a fellow American ex-pat Gregory Faull in Belize.

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Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Now to the bizarre story of the anti-virus software pioneer John McAfee. He's on the run in the Central American country of Belize. McAfee is wanted for questioning in connection with a murder this past weekend. The dead man is another American expatriate, Gregory Faull, who was a neighbor in Belize. In recent profiles, McAfee has been portrayed as a recluse, living in a small fortress of a home and, even before this incident, becoming increasingly paranoid and unstable.

But while in hiding this week, McAfee has maintained cell phone contact with at least one journalist, Wired contributing editor Joshua Davis, who joins us now from San Francisco. Welcome, Joshua.

JOSHUA DAVIS: Thank you.

CORNISH: So first, remind us more about who John McAfee is. How did he make his fortune?

DAVIS: Well, he started McAfee Associates in 1987 and went on to sell a very popular anti-virus software that a lot of people are familiar with. He left the company in the mid '90s. He started a number of other tech ventures, and then basically retired in the 2000s and moved to Belize and said that he was simply going to relax on the beach and enjoy the weather.

CORNISH: Joshua, the story is still developing, and there's a lot going on here. But start off by telling us why the police want to talk to John McAfee on this case.

DAVIS: Well, on Friday night, McAfee's dogs died - four of them died. And he called me on Saturday morning to say that they had been poisoned. I know from having spent time on his property in Belize that his neighbors weren't happy with his dogs. They barked. They were aggressive. They would charge passerbys.

And one of the neighbors, Gregory Faull, had in fact filed a complaint earlier that week. Saturday night, sometime between 10 p.m. and the following Sunday morning, Gregory Faull was shot in the back of the head and discovered Sunday morning lying face up in a pool of his own blood. And the police believe that there may be a connection.

CORNISH: Has he officially been named a suspect?

DAVIS: He has not officially been named a suspect. The police are simply saying that he is a person of interest, and they want to talk to him.

CORNISH: Now, tell us a little bit more about why McAfee is on the run. I mean, had he had run-ins with the police before?

DAVIS: You know, earlier this year in April, McAfee was raided by the Gang Suppression Unit of the Belizean police and charged with running a methamphetamine lab and possessing illegal weapons. Those charges were dropped, and McAfee says he was simply being persecuted by the government for pointing out corruption.

So when the police came to question him about Gregory Faull's death on Sunday afternoon, McAfee says that he thought they were coming to hassle him again. And therefore, he dug a hole in the sand and buried himself and put a cardboard box over his head. He stayed there for a number of hours until the police left. And once they were gone, he went into hiding.

CORNISH: Now, you've actually recorded conversations with John McAfee. He's been giving you these updates, I guess we can describe them, as he's on the run.

JOHN MCAFEE: Right now, sir, I am holed up in a place where, by the way, the mattress here has - what are those things that are crawling - which has lice. I've never experienced that before. I'm holed up in this place. It has limited contact with anyone.

CORNISH: Now, the story is just so bizarre. I mean, how do you know if anything he's saying is really true?

DAVIS: I don't. I mean, I know the police are looking for him, and that they want to question him, so I know what the government reports. I also hear his fantastical story, that he's digging holes in the sand and burying himself to avoid capture. And it's confusing. It's bizarre. It's crazy.

CORNISH: Joshua Davis, contributor to Wired. He spoke to us about anti-virus software pioneer John McAfee. McAfee is currently wanted for questioning in connection with the murder of a neighbor in the country of Belize.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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