SAN PEDRO, Belize (CNN) — A dead neighbor. Headless dogs. And a millionaire on the run. All set against a backdrop of spectacular tropic beauty.
It would be difficult to imagine a more intriguing story than the one unfolding in Belize right now.
Police there are seeking to question Internet pioneer John McAfee in the killing of his neighbor, American businessman Gregory Faull.
Faull, 52, was found dead with a gunshot wound to the back of the head this month in his home near San Pedro, on the Caribbean island of Ambergris Caye.
McAfee, who is not a suspect, has not been seen since. Three people have been detained for questioning in the killing, police have said, and investigators are pursuing multiple leads.
CNN was recently granted rare access to McAfee's beachfront property by a former girlfriend, who asked that her real name not be reported.
Identifying herself as "Francesca," she said she'd spoken with McAfee since he disappeared, and that he is "frightened for his life."
"He's in constant fear, paranoid," she said. "I would say it's because of what he has been through. ... He thinks people are always after him, which they really are right now."
The former girlfriend said she doesn't know where McAfee is, except that he is not at home. They communicate by phone, "not often, once a day, or hardly ever," she said.
Francesca pointed out buildings as she walked around McAfee's compound, a luxurious sprawl of screened rooms, pathways and an open air pool.
Police have searched the home and, according to witnesses, dug up the remains of McAfee's dogs.
Faull was killed after four of 11 dogs belonging to McAfee were fatally poisoned, said Wired Magazine Contributing Editor Joshua Davis, who said he had spent more than 100 hours with McAfee in recent months. Faull had frequently complained about the dogs barking, Davis said.
Raphael Martinez, a police spokesman, said a person working for McAfee called police about a poisoned dog; when police arrived at McAfee's residence, they found the dogs had been buried. McAfee is thought to have shot them to put them out of their misery.
Police took just the dogs' heads, instead of their bodies, witnesses said.
Authorities are now awaiting the results of ballistics tests to see whether there is any connection between the bullets in the dogs and the one that killed Faull.
McAfee, 67, told Davis last week that he did not kill his neighbor, the reporter said.
McAfee founded the Internet security company that bears his name, but left it in 1994.
He graduated in 1967 with a degree in mathematics from Roanoke College, according to the Virginia school. He went on to found several tech companies and to launch groundbreaking products, including the voice-recognition system Interpath Inc. in 1981, McAfee in 1988, and the instant messaging pioneer Tribal Voice in 1996.
When asked why McAfee doesn't present himself to police for questioning, his former girlfriend said it is because authorities want to kill him.
"It will never be ended until John is dead. That's what I believe, until they kill him," she said.
"My goodness," Martinez said when asked previously about McAfee's reported fear. "He needs to come in so that we can clear the air. We are law-abiding people here. We follow the laws to the letter. We believe at this point that he has absolutely no fear of being killed by anybody."