Antivirus pioneer John McAfee is on the run from murder charges, Belize police say. According to Marco Vidal, head of the national police force's Gang Suppression Unit, McAfee is a prime suspect in the murder of American expatriate Gregory Paul, who was gunned down Saturday night at his home in San Pedro Town on the island of Ambergris Caye.
Details remain sketchy so far, but residents say that Paul was a well-liked builder who hailed originally from California. The two men had been at odds for some time. Last Wednesday, Paul filed a formal complaint against McAfee with the mayor's office, asserting that McAfee had fired off guns and exhibited "roguish behavior." Their final disagreement apparently involved dogs.
As we reported last week, McAfee has become increasingly estranged from his fellow expatriates in recent years. His behavior has become increasingly erratic, and by his own admission he had begun associating with some of the most notorious gangsters in Belize.
Since our piece ran on last week, several readers have come forward with additional information that sheds light on the change in McAfee's behavior. In July of 2010, shortly before Allison Adonizio pulled the plug on their quorum-sensing project and fled the country, McAfee began posting on a drug-focused Russian message board called Bluelight about his attempts to purify the psychoactive compounds colloquially known as "bath salts."
Writing under the name "stuffmonger," a handle he has used on other online message boards, McAfee posted more than 200 times over the next nine months about his ongoing quest to purify psychoactive drugs from compounds commercially available over the internet. "I'm a huge fan of MDPV," he wrote. "I think it's the finest drug ever conceived, not just for the indescribable hypersexuality, but also for the smooth euphoria and mild comedown."
Elsewhere, he described his pursuit of "super perv powder" and warned about the dangers of handling the freebase version of the drug: "I had visual and auditory hallucinations and the worst paranoia of my life." He recommended that the most effective way to take a dose is via rectal insertion, a procedure known as "plugging," writing: "Measure your dose, apply a small amount of saliva to just the tip of your middle finger, press it against the dose, insert. Doesn't really hurt as much as it sounds. We're in an arena (drugs/libido) that I navigate as well as anyone on the planet here. If you take my advice about this (may sound gross to some of you perhaps), you will be well rewarded."
Just before posting for the last time on April 1, 2011 (a date that for McAfee may well have been freighted with intentional significance), Stuffmonger identified himself as "John" and described his work pursuing quorum-sensing compounds and posted photos of his property in Orange Walk. In signing off, he explained that "the on-line world is more of a distraction than the self induced effects of the many experiments I've done using my own body over the past year or so, and I have work to do."
MDPV, which was recently banned in the US but remains legal in Belize, belongs to a class of drugs called cathinones, a natural source of which is the East African plant khat. Users report that it is a powerfully mind-altering substance. In the comments section to my last Gizmodo piece, reader fiveseven15 writes: "mdpv is serious shit. would explain his paranoia and erraticness. i've been thru that. i played with mdpv for about two weeks, then started seeing shadow people in the corner of my eye, and what amphetamine heads call 'tree-cops'... its essentially really, REALLY f-ed up meth."
On his website, addiction specialist Paul Earley warns about the dangers of MDPV: "Our experience clearly warns of the psychiatric and medical dangers of this drug. We have cared for multiple patients who have abused MDPV; they report intense and unpleasant visual hallucinations after a short binge. The drug feels non-toxic with its first use, but following a moderate binge users suffer mild to moderate paranoia… in about 10% of individuals who use higher doses, we have observed a sustained psychotic state with intense anxiety lasting 3 to 7 days."
McAfee's intensive use of psychosis-inducing hallucinogens would go a long way toward explaining his growing estrangement from his friends and from the community around him. If he was producing large quantities of these chemicals, as implied on Bluelight, that would also shed light on his decision to associate with some of Belize's most hardened drug-gang members.
McAfee's purported interest in extracting medicine from jungle plants provided him a wholesome justification for building a well-equipped chemistry lab in a remote corner of Belize. The specific properties of the drugs he was attempting to isolate also fit in well with what those closest to him have reported: that he is an enthusiastic amateur pharmacologist with a longstanding interest in drugs that induce sexual behavior in women. Indeed, former friends of McAfee have said he could be extremely persistent and devious in trying to coerce women who rebuff his advances to have sex with him.
One other aspect of Stuffmonger's postings gibe with McAfee's general MO: his compulsion for making outrageous or simply erroneous assertions, even attached to subjects about which he is being generally sincere. Along with photographs of his lab near Orange Walk, for instance, he posted a picture of a decrepit thatched-roof hut and described it as original home in Belize. He seemed similarly to have embellished his descriptions of his feats of chemical prowess on the Bluelight discussion board, and this ultimately aroused the suspicions of his fellow posters. "Stuffmonger's claims were discredited," a senior moderator later wrote, "and he vanished."