Software company founder John McAfee says he has fled from Belize using a bizarre ruse, adding yet another chapter in what threatens to become one of the biggest media fugitive frenzies since OJ Simpson led police on a low-speed chase in 1994.
McAfee, who is wanted in connection with the killing of an American expat on the island, claimed in a blog posting that he had evaded authorities by staging an elaborate distraction in neighbouring Mexico.
In an email to The Associated Press news agency, McAfee confirmed a posting to his website in which he described, in what appeared to be joking tones, how he mounted the ruse. "My 'double', carrying on a North Korean passport under my name, was detained in Mexico for pre-planned misbehaviour," McAfee wrote in the posting, "but due to indifference on the part of authorities (he) was evicted from the jail and was unable to serve his intended purpose in our exit plan".
It was a turn typical of the bizarre saga of the eccentric anti-virus firm founder wanted for questioning over the fatal shooting of Gregory Viant Faull on the Belize island where they both had homes, in early November. Since then, McAfee has refused to turn himself in saying he fears Belizean police would kill him and has titillated the media with phone calls, emails and blog posts detailing his life on the run. It has resulted in a rather undignified media scrum to get interviews with McAfee, complete with taunts.
Vice magazine, two of whose journalists are reportedly travelling with McAfee, posted a story on its website, "We Are with John McAfee Right Now, Suckers", along with photos showing McAfee and Vice editor-in-chief Rocco Castoro.
Wired magazine later said on its website that location information embedded in the photo shows McAfee and the journalists were at Guatemala's Rio Dulce National Park, near the border with Belize, when the photo was taken.
A representative of the Faull family said the the murder of an American who by all accounts was well liked by his neighbours on Belize's Ambergris Caye was becoming lost: "The real issues are that a human life was violently taken, (and) authorities lack all the information ... we're beyond the danger of them being lost, it's become entertainment. This is tragic to the family."
The spokesman added that "we strongly urge journalists covering the McAfee story not to glorify the words and actions of this person who, by refusing to cooperate and tell police all he knows about the murder of Greg Faull, is harming the investigation of the murder".
Police in Belize have called McAfee a "person of interest" in the killing of Mr Faull and asked him to turn himself in for questioning. But he has not been charged and therefore can travel at will.
Mr Faull was shot dead in his home, a couple of houses from the compound where McAfee kept several noisy dogs, armed guards and entertained a steady stream of young women brought in from the mainland. McAfee acknowledges that his dogs were bothersome and that Mr Faull had complained about them, but denies killing Mr Faull. Several of the dogs were poisoned shortly before Mr Faull's murder.