Software pioneer McAfee in Miami after deportation from Guatemala
MIAMI BEACH, Fla. • Anti-virus software founder John McAfee said U.S. authorities have made no efforts to question him since he arrived in Miami on Wednesday night after weeks of evading Belizean authorities who want to ask him about the death of his neighbor.
"Why would they want to question me, about what?" a tired-looking but sharply dressed McAfee said Thursday from the steps of his South Beach hotel.
McAfee was deported from Guatemala after sneaking in illegally from Belize, where police want to question him in connection with the death of a U.S. expatriate who lived near him on an island off Belize's coast. U.S officials said there was no active arrest warrant for McAfee that would justify taking him into custody.
He said he was put on a plane to Miami where he will stay until his girlfriend, 20-year-old Belizean Samantha Vanegas, and a friend can join him.
"I had the warmest welcome of my life. The captain patted me on the shoulders and said, 'We're here to help you, sir, please come with us," McAfee told a throng of reporters camped outside his hotel Thursday.
The 67-year-old British native said a dozen custom agents and police officers then drove him around until he asked to be dropped at a taxi stand. The eccentric millionaire was typically chatty and said he was anxious for a decent breakfast after days of eating terrible Guatemalan prison food.
But he bristled as reporters repeatedly asked him why he won't answer questions from officials in Belize, denying he was under investigation. He has not been charged with a crime.
"They just want to question me, they just have a couple of questions for me, that's not investigating me," he said.
McAfee says he did not kill the neighbor and feared his own life would be in danger if he turned himself in to Belizean authorities.
"If they didn't want to harm me, why have they been harming my property and my dogs? Now 5 of my dogs have been killed," said McAfee, claiming authorities shot one of his dogs in the head and raided his house eight times.
He begged the State Department to expedite visas for Vanegas and another friend. Vanegas had accompanied him when he was on the run, but did not go with him to the U.S.
"Their lives are in danger," he said.
McAfee gave an ABC an interview after landing in Miami that was featured on Thursday's "Good Morning America." In it, he said he'd been faking illness in Guatemala. Asked if his apparent heart problem in court there was a ruse, he said, "Of course. It kept me from going back to Belize."
He said all his money and assets were still in banks in Belize and he had left Guatemala with just his clothes and shoes. He held up a stack of 5-dollar bills and said a stranger had given them to him after he arrived in Miami. McAfee also said he had made up stories while he was on the run to gain news coverage, although it was unclear what parts of the tale he was referring to. "What's a better story (than) millionaire madman on the run?" he told ABC.
In Guatemala on Sunday, McAfee said he wanted to return to the United States and "settle down to whatever normal life" he can. "I simply would like to live comfortably day by day, fish, swim, enjoy my declining years."
He later said he also would be happy to go to England, noting he has dual citizenship.
McAfee's expulsion from Guatemala marked the last chapter in a strange, monthlong odyssey to avoid police questioning about the November killing of American expatriate Gregory Viant Faull, who lived a couple of houses down from McAfee's compound on Ambergris Caye, off Belize's Caribbean coast.
McAfee has acknowledged that his dogs were bothersome and that Faull had complained about them days before some of the dogs were poisoned, but denies killing Faull.
He was in hiding in Belize for weeks after police pronounced him a person of interest in the killing. Belizean authorities have urged him to show up for questioning, but have not lodged any formal charges against him. McAfee has said he feared he would be killed if he turned himself in to Belizean authorities.
Belize's prime minister, Dean Barrow, has expressed doubts about McAfee's mental state, saying: "I don't want to be unkind to the gentleman, but I believe he is extremely paranoid, even bonkers."
McAfee is an acknowledged practical joker who has dabbled in yoga, ultra-light aircraft and the production of herbal medications. He has led an eccentric life since he sold his stake in the software company named after him in the early 1990s and moved to Belize about three years ago to lower his taxes.
He told The New York Times in 2009 that he had lost all but $4 million of his $100 million fortune in the U.S. financial crisis. However, a story on the Gizmodo website quoted him as describing that claim as "not very accurate at all."
Associated Press writer Romina Ruiz-Goiriena in Guatemala City and Curt Anderson in Miami contributed to this report.
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