It’s been more than two months since Greg Faull, a 52-year-old American expatriate living in the tropical paradise of Belize, was found murdered in his beachfront home.
It was an execution, plain and simple—Faull was shot once, in the head, and there was no sign of struggle or robbery. Local police are no closer to solving this crime today than they were two months ago. The person they would most like to talk to is Faull’s neighbor: the wealthy American Internet entrepreneur John McAfee. But McAfee hid from police, then fled the country in early December. He is now safely back in the United States, and about to cash-in on book and movie deals about his life on the run.
You probably think you know the story already. A tattooed tycoon with a bevy of teenaged lovers and a fondness for guns taunts the police from secret hideouts. Armed with a laptop and smart phone, he simultaneously maintains his innocence while hammering the Belizean government with scattershot claims of rampant corruption.
But you probably don’t know the half of it.
Soon after the news broke that McAfee was wanted for questioning in connection with the murder of Faull, Dateline scrambled producers and camera crews and correspondent Keith Morrison to get the story behind the story. The results of Dateline’s investigation, which took its team from coast to coast and across Central America, is “Trouble in Paradise,” and airs Friday night on NBC at 9pm ET/8pm CT.
The first thing Dateline set out to do was to investigate the murder, which had been lost in the media frenzy surrounding John McAfee. Aside from Faull’s killer, Shane and Brittany McCann were probably the last people to see him alive. On the evening of November 10, 2012, Faull had dinner with the McCann’s at their home on Belize’s Ambergris Caye.
“Saturday night we had a few people over. We invited Greg,” says Shane McCann. “Everyone in the neighborhood likes to do things.”
Among the topics of conversation that night was the news that John McAfee, the eccentric millionaire who lived down the beach, had just reported that very morning that four of his dogs had been poisoned.
The neighbors thought that McAfee’s dogs, a collection of a nearly a dozen mangy mutts who barked all night, were a snapping and snarling scourge for anyone who tried to walk along the beach to nearby bars and restaurants.
Like some other tourists, Faull had been bitten by McAfee’s dogs. He had confronted McAfee about the dogs, and in fact, he had complained to local authorities about the problem a month earlier, but nothing had been done.
Neighbors say Faull made no secret of his dislike of those dogs and had often threatened to poison them if nothing were done to bring them under control. At dinner that night, McCann says Faull seemed to claim responsibility for poisoning the dogs
“He told me right there on the beach,” says McCann, “‘Did you hear? The dogs were poisoned.’ And he gave me a little wink.”
After dinner, McCann says he watched Faull walk off into the night, headed for home. Early the next morning, McCann says he was awakened by a call from one of Faull’s caretakers, who told him Greg Faull was dead.
Assuming that Faull had had a heart attack, McCann says he rushed over to his friend’s house, arriving well before the police. Inside, on the main floor, McCann says he saw his friend lying face up in a pool of dried blood, his legs straight out, his hands at his side, as if posed.
“It didn't look natural” , McCann says. “It looked like someone had laid him there.”
According to McCann, Faull’s keys were still in the door and he was still dressed in the clothes he’d been wearing the night before, though his T-shirt had been pulled up over his head.
“Yeah, it was pulled over, like in a hockey move or something… [it] was all the way behind his neck, but his shirt was still on.”
The eeriest detail, says McCann, was the movie soundtrack that kept playing over and over again from the TV across the room.
“It was playing Pirates of the Caribbean, Volume Two. And it's doing the credits over and over. It was freakin' scary, man,” McCann says. “Every 30 seconds the menu of that movie would just come on and off, on and off, on and off, on and off. There was no sign of struggle and nothing was stolen. We finally had to turn off the TV. It was bad.”
Greg Faull’s early retirement from his contracting business into tropical bliss in Belize lasted just five months and 10 days. His father, Art Faull, says his son, an avid sailor and fisherman, had never been happier. So it was like a bolt of lightning out of a clear blue sky when the US Embassy in Belize called him that Sunday afternoon with news that his son had been murdered.
“I yelled, I said, ‘No, it can't possibly happen. Not Greg,’” Art Faull said, in his only interview since his son’s death. “Cause I don't think anyone could have overpowered Greg if he'd have had a chance, you know? I suspect that he just never had a chance.”
Immediately after securing the crime scene at Faull’s house, police investigators headed over to McAfee’s compound to question him, since he and Faull had feuded about the dogs. But when the police got there, McAfee was nowhere to be found.
Within hours the news was all over the internet that Marco Vidal, head of Belize’s paramiltary Gang Suppression Unit, a team that focuses on combating organized crime, had named McAfee a primary suspect in the case.
Vidal and the Gang Suppression Unit had a history with John McAfee. In April, 2012, the GSU had raided another of McAfee’s compounds, located on the mainland, on the suspicion that he was operating a meth lab there. Though that raid turned up no illegal drugs, and McAfee denied producing or even using drugs, he had been arrested on a weapons charge and briefly jailed.
The charge was later dropped and McAfee took to the press to launch blistering attacks on the Belizean government and the GSU, accusing them everything from petty corruption to murder.
And now, though McAfee was missing, he was not silent. The day after he disappeared, he launched a media blitz, blogging, emailing and calling journalists from undisclosed locations to insist that he had nothing to do with the murder of Faull, and to claim that he would likely die in custody if he turned himself in for questioning.
For the next three weeks, the 67-year-old McAfee courted the press and used every opportunity to rail against the Belizean government before escaping to Guatemala with his 20-year-old girlfriend.
Shortly before Christmas, McAfee was deported to the United States where he says he is prepared to meet with Belizean officials and answer any questions they might have about the Faull murder. Belizean authorities say they do not intend to take him up on that offer. The police say McAfee is not a suspect in the case, but that he remains a person of interest, and someone they still want to question.
“Trouble in Paradise” also examines John McAfee’s life from his early successes in the Silicon Valley to his days on the run in Belize. There are exclusive interviews with two of McAfee’s young girlfriends in Belize and Guatemala, as well as people who knew him in Belize.
Keith Morrison and the Dateline team finally tracked McAfee down while he was being detained in Guatemala, and conducted the only extensive network interview the provocative entrepreneur has given since fleeing his home in Belize. McAfee denies having anything to do with Faull’s murder, and discusses his relationship with Faull at length. He also responds to accusations about drugs and answers questions about his controversial lifestyle.
But the forgotten man in the media maelstrom surrounding McAfee is Greg Faull. In moving interviews, Faull’s friends in Belize and his family in Florida describe an industrious, fun loving man who never met a stranger. Fearing that the investigation into his death has stalled, the Faull family tells Dateline that they have enlisted the help of Florida Sen. Bill Nelson, who is pressing Belizean for information.
“It feels hopeless, because, you know, it's a foreign country and I don't know how to handle it,” says Greg’s father, Art. “So we're waiting to see if we can put any pressure anywhere on the Belizean government just to continue their investigation. And find out who is responsible. But I just don't know when it'll happen. It's desperately important to know. This whole family is just terribly broken up. We all are.”
On Saturday, January 19th, Faull’s family will hold a memorial service in Florida. Afterward, they say, Faull’s ashes will be scattered in the Gulf of Mexico where he spent his happiest hours sailing and fishing.