SAN PEDRO, Belize -- Software-company founder John McAfee said Wednesday he is in hiding, unarmed and accompanied only by a young woman, changing locations and telephones frequently to stay one step ahead of a Belize police unit he says wants to kill him.
Belize police have said they want to question McAfee, who they describe as a "person of interest" in the slaying of fellow American Gregory Viant Faull. Faull, 52, was shot to death over the weekend on the Caribbean island where both men lived.
Prime Minister Dean Barrow said McAfee was only wanted for questioning and should report to authorities.
Barrow also expressed doubts about McAfee's mental state: "I don't want to be unkind to the gentleman, but I believe he is extremely paranoid, even bonkers."
McAfee, 67, who had a run-in with police earlier this year, told The Associated Press in a telephone interview from an undisclosed location that he didn't kill Faull, though he acknowledged he had differences with the dead man.
"I barely knew him; I barely spoke 10 words to him in the last three years," McAfee said, speaking on a cellphone.
"He was a heavy drinker and an annoyance. But the world is full of annoyances; if we killed all of our annoyances, there would be nobody left."
Other expat residents of the island of Ambergris Caye, where San Pedro is located, have described Faull, the owner of a construction business in Orlando, Fla., as peaceful and well-liked.
The dispute apparently involved several dogs McAfee kept at his beachside villa that drew complaints from neighbours. McAfee said four of his dogs were poisoned late last week, but he didn't initially suspect Faull of having killed them, though he knew Faull didn't like the dogs.
"He did threaten to shoot them once or twice," McAfee said of Faull.
He said he now believes government agents or police poisoned the dogs.
Faull was found Sunday with a gunshot wound to his head inside his two-storey home north of San Pedro.
A spokesman for Belize's Ministry of National Security said no charges had been filed, but urged McAfee to turn himself in, accompanied by someone else, if he felt safer that way.
McAfee said he feared Belize's notorious Gang Suppression Unit, the GSU, a paramilitary-style squad accused of rough treatment that raided another property McAfee owns in Belize in April, would beat him and he would later die in custody.
"The GSU will do what the GSU does, beat me soundly until I confess to a multitude of sins, including, I guess, the murder of Jimmy Hoffa, and then just execute me," McAfee said.
McAfee, creator of the McAfee antivirus program, has led a life of eccentricity since he sold his stake in the firm in the 1990s. He moved to Belize about three years ago to lower his taxes.
Belize police and the GSU raided McAfee's home looking for drugs and guns in April. McAfee said then officers found legal guns, and he was released without charge after being detained for a few hours.
There were still a couple of dogs at his villa Wednesday, along with a sign on the fence outside the property reading, "Never mind the dogs. Beware of Owner," with a drawing of a hand holding a smoking pistol.
McAfee said Faull's killers may have actually been looking to kill him.
"I am innocent of everything that they're accusing me of, except probably foolishness for staying here in the country, although I still intend to stay," he said. "I'm not going to leave this country. I love this country. This is my home."
-- The Associated Press