MIAMI (CBSMiami) — After a whirlwind trip from Guatemala to Miami, anti-virus software founder John McAfee may be in South Florida for a while.
“One step at a time,” McAfee said Thursday night when he stepped out of the Beach Hotel on South Beach where he’s been staying since Wednesday. “Yesterday morning I was in jail in Guatemala. Today, here I am talking to the press. Life is a very uncertain thing. It works in mysterious ways. I have no clue where this is going.”
The normally reclusive software developer told CBS4 U.S. authorities have made no efforts to question him since his arrival Wednesday night.
“I like being free to walk around,” said McAfee. “I like the fact that there is no one trying to shoot me.”
McAfee said he plans to stay in South Florida until his 20-year old girlfriend from Belize and her friend are given visas to come to the U.S. to join him.
“Amy just escaped from Belize yesterday. Sam helped me escape. Bad things will happen to them if they’re collected. The bad thing being they’ll be put in detention until I turn myself in,” McAfee said.
He told CBS 4’s Lauren Pastrana he spoke to his girlfriend Sam Thursday night. He said Sam and Amy are in Guatemala and he hopes to move them to somewhere safe.
“I think Panama would be a very safe place for them,: McAfee said. “Just hang out there for their safety and I can visit.” McAfee said he wants the U.S. State Department to expedite their visas, but worries that process will still take weeks.
After posing for pictures with tourists, McAfee hopped a cab to go shopping for clothing. McAfee said he was once a millionaire, but now he’s broke.
“I don’t have a home. I have no money. One of my friends in Canada sent me a stack of cash,” said McAfee.
McAfee had been held in a Guatemalan jail since his arrest for allegedly entering the country illegally last week. He was seeking asylum in the Central American country after claiming law enforcement officials in Belize were trying to charge him with murder in the death of his neighbor, Gregory Viant Faull.
Faull was shot to death in early November on the Belize island where both men lived.
“The reason they haven’t charged me is because I had nothing to do with it. Did I kill Mr. Faull? Let me be clear. I have absolutely nothing to do with the murder in Belize,” said McAfee. “People are shot in Belize during robberies constantly. The fact that he was my neighbor is what is getting international press.”
McAfee claimed he barely knew the man and didn’t hurt him. He said he fled Belize to escape corrupt officials who wanted a bribe.
“The reason they came on to my property originally is that they had a warrant for an illegal meth lab. I wouldn’t know how to make meth would I,” said McAfee. “This began on the 30th of April last year when 40 armed soldiers stormed my property and shot my dog in the head and they held me in the sun handcuffed for 14 hours and destroyed a half a million dollars worth of my property then let me go with no charges. The next day I was approached by the same person who asked for a 2 million dollar bribe and they said will you pay the money and I said no and that’s why I went to the international press.”
When asked if he thought thing would be resolved in his favor, McAfee replied, “I’m not charged with anything. There is no favor to be resolved.”
McAfee arrived at Miami International Airport around 7:00 p.m. Wednesday.
Passengers said he was allowed to be the first person off the plane. He said U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agents and local police officers took care of him. He said it wasn’t special treatment and that they were just helping him find a safe place.
“I had the warmest welcome of my life,” said McAfee. “The captain patted me on the shoulders and said ‘We’re here to help you sir. Please come with us.’ Put me in a car, drove me around the airport for a long time, asked me where I wanted to go.”
They ended up taking him to a cab which drove him to Miami Beach, where he checked into the Beacon Hotel.
“I like being free to walk around. I like the fact that there is no one trying to shoot me,” said McAfee.
A source familiar with the McAfee’s situation told CBS4 News that McAfee was briefly questioned by IRS agents after he got off the plane in Miami. The source told CBS4 investigator Jim DeFede that federal agents are examining whether McAfee engaged in money laundering or tax evasion when he left the United States three years ago and settled in Belize.
McAfee said he has nothing to hide.
“I am not stupid enough to not pay taxes. I’d rather pay one million dollars extra than a hundred million dollars less. You can’t escape from taxes. You can’t avoid the IRS,” said McAfee..
Sources have told CBS4 News that the FBI may question McAfee because the victim in Belize is an American. However, he has not been charged with any crimes in the U.S.
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.”