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 ten words to him in the last three years," McAfee said, speaking on a cellphone. "Certainly he was not my favorite person and I was not his."
"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," McAfee said.
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, Florida, as peaceful and well-liked.
The dispute apparently involved several dogs that McAfee kept at his beachside villa and that drew complaints from neighbors. McAfee said that four of his dogs were poisoned late last week, but that 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, adding that his neighbor was "always angry at them."
But he said he now believes government agents or police poisoned the dogs.
"My assumption was it was some kind of government action again. This is more harassment - that was the first thing that went through my mind, and still is going through my mind. What else could it have been?" he said.
Faull was found with a gunshot wound to his head inside his two-story home north of San Pedro. The housekeeper discovered the body Sunday morning and called police.
Raphael Martinez, spokesman for Belize's Ministry of National Security, said no charges had been filed in the case, but urged McAfee to turn himself in, accompanied by someone else, if he felt safer that way.
But McAfee said he feared that Belize's notorious Gang Suppression Unit, the GSU, a paramilitary-style squad that has been accused of rough treatment and 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.