A dead body on a Caribbean island. A flight through the jungle, across international borders. A megamillionaire with a stable of young beauties.
The crazed saga of software pioneer John McAfee took another turn this week, as the gaunt, eccentric mogul spent his first day in three years back in the United States -- strolling Miami’s South Beach, a free man.
“I like being free to walk around. I like that no one is trying to shoot me,” McAfee said Thursday afternoon.
McAfee has been on the run for almost a month, avoiding police questions about the November murder of American expatriate Gregory Viant Faull on the Belizean island of Ambergris Caye, where he was McAfee’s neighbor. During a press conference from South Beach, the media-savvy mogul again denied any involvement in the murder, even though he refuses to answer Belizean police questions, claiming his life is at risk.
“Did I kill Mr. Faull? No. Let me be clear. I had absolutely nothing to do with the murder in Belize," McAfee stated emphatically. “The reason they haven’t charged me is because there is no evidence.”
Indeed McAfee isn’t even a suspect in the case, one reason authorities in Guatemala -- where he had fled with a pair of reporters from Vice Magazine -- chose to deport him to Florida rather than return him to Belize.
Police in Belize City told Fox News on Thursday that if their on-going investigation into the murder of Faull evolves and McAfee is found criminally liable, his situation could change. There are two treaties that exist: One is an extradition treaty that both the U.S. and Belize have signed, according to Fox News correspondent Phil Keating.
Answering questions Thursday afternoon on South Beach, McAfee sounded at turns bizarre and contradictory. He claimed to have been chased by crocodiles. He said he was living in the jungle for months. At one point he berated those who might be watching him on camera: “You people at home. What are you doing? You’re living your lives through other people. Right now, through me.”
Freelance journalists who have spent time with McAfee over the past few months said he was involved in the drug trade, claiming McAfee was attempting to synthesize a drug that would bring about euphoria. McAfee denied any such story.
“If I were to get back in drugs, I have the resources to buy good drugs. No I don’t take drugs, I don’t drink,” he said.
As for money, McAfee claims to have abandoned everything in Belize when he hid out from the police. He is penniless, he said … or at least he was.
“One of my friends in Canada sent me a sack of money. His name is François Garcia. He has never asked for a dime, it’s kind of spooky,” McAfee said.
Passersby took pictures and asked for McAfee’s autograph, treating him as a hero rather than a potential suspect in a murder case.
Suzanne and Bob Swanson, on vacation in South Beach from Toronto, were among those who stopped to take a picture with him.
“You’re wonderful, thank you very, very much,” Suzanne told McAfee. “We see him on the news all the time in Toronto,” she explained after. “We were looking for movie stars. This is the closest we’re going to get.”
Swanson acknowledged that she was aware of the murder connection, though the details may be a bit foggy.
“I probably have the story all wrong,” she said. “But obviously he’s free here.”