BELIZE CITY Computer security industry pioneer John McAfee says he has gone into hiding in Belize because he believes authorities there are trying to frame him for the murder of a neighbor, a crime he says he did not commit, according to Wired magazine.
Belize police are searching for McAfee as "a person of interest" in a murder investigation.
"You can say I'm paranoid about it, but they will kill me, there is no question. They've been trying to get me for months. They want to silence me," Wired quoted McAfee as saying on its website. "I am not well liked by the prime minister. I am just a thorn in everybody's side."
The magazine reported that McAfee, 67, contacted one of its reporters by telephone after his neighbor Gregory Faull, was found dead on Sunday in a pool of blood. The 52-year-old American was apparently shot in the head.
Police say McAfee had a history of conflict with Faull, whose post-mortem was expected to be conducted on Tuesday.
McAfee, who amassed a fortune by building the anti-virus company that bears his name, has homes and businesses in the Central American country where police say he has lived for at least two years.
It was not the first time McAfee, who has tattoos, a goatee and moustache, and a penchant for guns, has drawn police attention.
His premises were raided earlier this year after he was accused of holding firearms, though most were found to be licensed. The final outcome of the case is pending.
He was also suspected of running a lab to make the synthetic drug crystal meth.
"He was suspected (of making crystal meth) but he was not convicted nor was he charged. He was only suspected," said Belize police spokesman Raphael Martinez.
McAfee also owns a security company in Belize as well as several properties and an ecological enterprise.
Reuters has been unable to reach McAfee, who police want to question.
"It would be quite nice for him to come in and answer some of the questions that could lead to the closure of this case," Martinez said. "He is not wanted for murder, but he is wanted for questioning as a person of interest."
The Belize police department has reached out to counterparts in neighboring Mexico and Guatemala, asking them to detain McAfee if he leaves Belize overland.
McAfee was one of Silicon Valley's first entrepreneurs to amass a fortune by building a business off the Internet.
The former Lockheed systems consultant started McAfee Associates in 1989, initially distributing anti-virus software as "shareware" on Internet bulletin boards.
He took the company public in 1992 and left two years later following accusations that he had hyped the arrival of a virus known as Michelangelo, which turned out to be a dud, to scare computer users into buying his company's products.
McAfee currently has no relationship with the software company, which has since been sold to Intel Corp.
(Reporting by Jim Finkle in Boston, Jose Sanchez in Belize City and Simon Gardner in Mexico City; Editing by Kieran Murray and Doina Chiacu)