MEXICO CITY (AP) — Software company founder John McAfee said Monday he has fled from Belize using a bizarre ruse, adding yet another chapter in what threatens to become one of the biggest media fugitive frenzies since O.J. Simpson led police on a low-speed chase in 1994.
McAfee claimed in a blog posting he had evaded authorities by staging an elaborate distraction in neighboring Mexico.
In an email to The Associated Press, McAfee confirmed a posting to his website in which he described, in what appeared to be joking tones, how he mounted the ruse.
"My 'double,' carrying on (sic) a North Korean passport under my name, was detained in Mexico for pre-planned misbehavior," McAfee wrote in the posting, "but due to indifference on the part of authorities (he) was evicted from the jail and was unable to serve his intended purpose in our exit plan."
It was a turn typical of the bizarre saga of the eccentric anti-virus company founder wanted for questioning in connection with the killing of fellow American ex-pat Gregory Viant Faull, who was shot to death at the Belize island where they both had homes in early November.
Since then, McAfee has refused to turn himself in for questioning saying he fears Belizean police would kill him, and has titillated the media with phone calls, emails and blog posts detailing his life on the lam. It has all resulted in a rather undignified media scrum to get interviews with McAfee, complete with taunts.
Vice magazine, two of whose journalists are reportedly traveling with McAfee, posted a story on its website entitled "We Are with John McAfee Right Now, Suckers," along with a photos showing McAfee and VICE editor-in-chief Rocco Castoro.
Wired magazine later said on its website that location information embedded in the photo shows McAfee and the journalists were at Guatemala's Rio Dulce National Park, near the border with Belize, when the photo was taken.
A representative of the Faull family said Monday that the real issues — the murder of an American who by all accounts was well-liked by his neighbors on Belize's Ambergris Caye — are getting lost.
"The real issues are that a human life was violently taken, (and) authorities lack all the information ... we're beyond the danger of them being lost, it's become entertainment. This is tragic to the family," said Dan Keeney of Texas-based DPK Public Relations, who has issued statements on behalf of the Faull family.
A woman who answered the phone at an Orlando, Florida phone number listed for Vickie Faull confirmed she was a relative and said that Keeney spoke on behalf of the family, but had no further comment.
"Mr. McAfee is astute at media manipulation, and he's using those skills to great effect," said Keeney. "I would just caution the media not to let themselves be manipulated."
Keeney added in email that "we strongly urge journalists covering the McAfee story not to glorify the words and actions of this person who, by refusing to cooperate and tell police all he knows about the murder of Greg Faull, is harming the investigation of the murder."
"The family of Mr. Faull is concerned that journalists may be assisting Mr. McAfee either implicitly by helping him to create an elaborate fiction that undermines trust in authorities or explicitly in his efforts to escape."