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San Francisco (AFP) Nov 13, 2012
A successful Silicon Valley entrepreneur who cashed out to live the life of an adventure seeker, John McAfee is now at the epicenter of a Central America murder mystery.
McAfee, founder of the eponymous anti-virus company, is being sought for questioning in connection with the killing of another expatriate US citizen in the Central American nation of Belize.
His whereabouts were unclear. Police raided McAfee's mansion on Ambergris Caye, an island off the northeastern coast of Belize, late Sunday to question him about the murder of American Gregory Faull. But McAfee was nowhere to be found.
The case marks the latest twist in the story of McAfee, who is considered one of the pioneers of the anti-virus software industry from which he dropped out two decades ago.
Jeff Wise, a science and adventure writer who has known McAfee for years, called the 67-year-old entrepreneur "an inveterate self-promoter who built an improbable Web security empire on the principles of trust and reliability," and then "gave himself over to the life of a wealthy adventure seeker."
"He raced ATVs (crashing a dozen or so) and made open-ocean crossings by Jet Ski (often they sunk en route)," Wise wrote on the technology news website Gizmodo.
"He poured millions into a 280-acre yoga retreat in the mountains above Woodland, Colorado, where every Sunday morning he would hold complimentary classes."
Wise, who has interviewed McAfee at the entrepreneur's New Mexico ranch and in Belize, said McAfee had been exhibiting odd behavior and had become estranged from the US expatriate community in Belize.
"I'd become convinced he was a compulsive liar if not an outright psychopath, albeit one whose life as a thrill-seeking serial entrepreneur was as entertaining for me to follow as it was amusing for him to perform," he wrote.
According to Wise, McAfee launched a series of enterprises in Belize, including a coffee shop and a high-speed ferry service before meeting a vacationing Harvard biologist, Allison Adonizio, three decades his junior.
She moved to Belize, where McAfee built a lab for trials on the use of rainforest plants to fight infections in a new field of microbiology called "anti-quorum sensing."
Later, they switched to a new herb which they claimed "boosted female libido," according to Wise, who said McAfee and Adonizio later had a falling out.
Wired Magazine's Joshua Davis, who interviewed McAfee after the homicide, said he has been hiding on his property, burying himself in the sand with a cardboard box over his head so he could breathe.
"It was extraordinarily uncomfortable," he told Davis. "But they will kill me if they find me."
Asked about the shooting of his neighbor, McAfee said he knew "nothing" other than he had been shot. The anti-virus pioneer even said he was worried that Faull's killers had actually been looking for him.
"Under no circumstances am I going to willingly talk to the police in this country," he said. "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. I am not well liked by the prime minister. I am just a thorn in everybody's side."
McAfee has been living in Belize, a former British colony, for the past four years.
The 67-year-old made millions when he sold his stake in his anti-virus software company in the early 1990s. The McAfee company is now a subsidiary of Intel Corp.
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