In a too-strange-to-be-true twist on an already bizarre crime story, fugitive tech millionaire John McAfee revealed where he's been hiding over the last six days: in his own compound. McAfee, wanted by police in connection with the murder of his neighbour Gregory Faull over the weekend, said in a phone interview that he had never really been on the run at all. He'd just been hiding out at home. The calls were coming from inside the house!
"I am," he said in a telephone interview Friday afternoon, "where I am most of the time. I am certainly inside my compound."
The revelation came at the end of a week of intense international media attention, which began when I broke the story on Gizmodo. McAfee, who has bragged about the delight he takes in hoaxing the press, had managed to control the coverage of his story by doling out a carefully measured flow of misinformation to an eager press corps, many of whom were camped right outside his house as he spoke to them from within one of the numerous outbuildings on the property, unaware of his presence within.
The truth of McAfee's location did not come as a shock to some of his neighbours. "If I had to guess, I'd say he's in his house," one of his neighbours told me on Wednesday, adding: "He's such a media whore, he's probably loving it."
McAfee bought the property after his arrival in Belize in 2008, and proceeded to build a number of outbuildings. Apparently they contained at least one difficult-to-detect shelter or safe room, because local police reportedly searched the property after Faull's murder without managing to find him. A source who lived on McAfee's compound in Colorado told me that he had built a shelter on that property, too.
McAfee's property on the coastal island of Ambergris Caye is less than 80km from Mexico, and it would be a fairly straightforward matter to travel by boat across the border. But McAfee's behaviour made it clear that he hadn't gone far. Almost as soon as the story broke, he began an intensive series of communications with Wired magazine reporter Joshua Davis, who published McAfee's often outlandish claims without qualification. Within days he was conducting phone interviews with other news outlets as well, and posting on internet message boards. The uninterrupted communication suggested that he was not in transit.
At time of writing, it is not clear what, if anything, Belize authorities will do now that they know McAfee's location. The reporters to whom McAfee disclosed his location, Brian Sullivan and Robert Frank of CNBC, did not press him to reveal further details of how he managed to hide out in his own home.