After nearly a month on the run from Belizean authorities who wish to question him in a homicide investigation, John McAfee was arrested Wednesday, but not in Belize nor for any crime involving the death of his neighbor.
The former Silicon Valley software guru was arrested in Guatemala for illegally entering the neighboring country, Interior minister Mauricio Lopez Bonilla told multiple news sources Wednesday evening.
McAfee bragged of entering the country with two journalists and one of his young, Belizean girlfriends in tow on Tuesday, part of a 24-day journey he chronicled on a blog and through multiple interviews with American media.
Interpol agents assisted local police in detaining McAfee in a ritzy Guatemala City neighborhood; he was then transported to an old, three-story building used to house migrants who enter Guatemala illegally, The Associated Press reported.
McAfee told media earlier Wednesday that he had formally requested asylum in Guatemala due to prosecution in Belize, where officials say he is a "person of interest" in the killing of Gregory Viant Faull. McAfee counters that Belizean authorities are crooked and will kill him if they capture him.
Faull, an American who lived part-time next to the beachside compound McAfee owned in Belize, was found by his housekeeper shot to death on Nov. 11. About a month before his slaying, Faull hand-delivered a letter to the San Pedro Town Council complaining about McAfee's security detail and his dogs. Two days before Faull's death, several of McAfee's dogs were poisoned, though he has said that the Belizean authorities are responsible for the poisonings and possibly the shooting.
The 67-year-old guru-turned-fugitive claims to have used disguises to hide in plain sight from authorities while proclaiming his innocence in the death of Faull, 52. MacAfee maintains that Belizean authorities in San Pedro Town -- where he lives with armed guards and, by his own accounts, a coterie of young women -- are out to get him for failing to pay a bribe.
San Pedro Town Police spokesman Raphael Martinez told the Mercury News on Monday that investigators still considered McAfee a "person of interest" in Faull's killing, but no charges await him in Belize for evading their questioning, Martinez said.
McAfee's namesake company produces McAfee anti-virus software, a pioneering product widely in use today around the world. In the process, its founder became a multimillionaire, wealthy enough to pursue an extraordinary range of passions, from modern art and yoga to antique automobiles and desert-skimming aircraft.
As the head of McAfee Associates, he staffed his business in Santa Clara with an entourage that included a group of Wiccans -- practitioners of pagan religion -- while he nurtured a company culture that saw its employees participating in a risque office game that awarded points based on where and what time of day they had sex in the building.
"I didn't look down on anything as long as work got done," he told The Mercury News in a 2001 interview, although he said he was unaware of the office sex tournament.
Long before authorities began searching for him, McAfee had been following his own path of unconventional pursuits.
After graduating from Roanoke College in Virginia in 1967, the British-born McAfee worked as a software engineer at Lockheed in the 1980s. He also briefly ran the American Institute for Safe Sex Practices, which provided identification cards to people who tested HIV-negative.
When that business died, McAfee turned to the growing problem of computer viruses and in 1987 founded McAfee Associates, which broke ground in anti-virus software, becoming an early Silicon Valley success story.
But managing dozens of employees wasn't something McAfee enjoyed, he once told this newspaper, and he quit the company in 1994, moving to Woodland Park, Colo. There, he built a 10,000-square-foot home with three guesthouses and four trout ponds and launched another enterprise, Tribal Voice, an Internet chat site that he sold for $17 million in 1999.
During this period, McAfee taught yoga and sang Vedic chants. He also reportedly rode around on all-terrain vehicles, motorcycles, personal watercraft and lightweight aircraft called "trikes" in Arizona and at a 157-acre New Mexico ranch he bought in 2004.
But two people died in a trike accident at the ranch in 2006 and one of the victim's relatives blamed it on McAfee's negligence, slapping him with a lawsuit that is still pending.
McAfee moved to Belize two years later. In 2009 he sold the ranch -- reportedly his last U.S. possession -- to avoid paying damages for the accident, according to the victim's lawyer, Frank Fleming.
"He believes he is beyond the power of execution of any American judgment in Belize," Fleming told this newspaper, adding that he believes McAfee sold off his U.S. property so he'd have no assets here to seize.
But in a 2010 interview with the publication Fast Company, McAfee said he wanted to go to Belize to help humanity by developing a new kind of antibiotic from the herbs that grow in the rain forests there.
During that time, McAfee's fortune -- which had been once estimated at around $100 million -- reportedly shrank to about $4 million in the soured economy.
Staff writers Dan Nakaso and Steve Johnson contributed to this report. Contact Jeremy C. Owens at 408-920-5876; follow him at Twitter.com/mercbizbreak.