John McAfee: Wild life of the gun-toting, drug-munching tech mogul
Eccentric antivirus inventor John McAfee was found dead yesterday in a Spanish jail.
The cause of death appears to be suicide, following the decision by a Spanish court to approve his extradition to the US to face criminal charges of tax evasion.
So ends the colourful life of a tech pioneer and who described himself as a ‘lover of women, adventure and mystery’.
McAfee is most famous for founding the eponymous antivirus company that still bears his name.
Although born in the UK, John McAfee moved to the US when he was a child. When he was just 15 years old, his father committed suicide.
His first brush with entrepreneurial life came during college when he began to sell magazines door-to-door.
Following that came a job at IBM where he helped to calibrate train schedules. To offset the tedium, McAfee started to take LSD and other psychedelic drugs.
McAfee went to San Francisco and bounced around several different companies. He was fired from one when they found him snorting cocaine at his desk.
While working at Lockheed, the defence company, in the 1980s, he had the idea to start a company to fight computer viruses. This was in the days before computers had caught on with most people and the resulting company would end up making him a fortune.
He wrote the first antivirus software in 1987 and his company quickly became successful. However, McAfee resigned in 1994, sold his stake in the company, and began to make public appearances and pursue a few different projects.
By 2007, right before the financial crisis, his wealth was estimated at $100 million.
He reportedly spent his fortune on nine luxurious homes, multiple planes, vintage cars, expensive art and even a dinosaur skull.
On the run
The financial crises wiped out McAfee’s fortune, leaving him with just $4 million.
He decided to relocate to Belize and started to become fearful that his outspoken antics had caught the attention of the US authorities.
McAfee became increasingly paranoid and detached from reality.
At one point, he wrote: ‘My fragile connection with the world of polite society has, without a doubt, been severed. My attire would rank me among the worst-dressed Tijuana panhandlers. My hygiene is no better. Yesterday, for the first time, I urinated in public, in broad daylight.’
Despite this admission, he still had funds available and reportedly lived surrounded by young women and protected by armed bodyguards.
His home was raided in 2012 by the Belize Police Gang Suppression Unit because he was suspected of cooking meth, but no drugs were found and he was never charged.
McAfee believes the raid was part of a conspiracy to ‘destroy him’ because he refused to be extorted by the Belize government.
He went on to become an international fugitive later in 2012, fleeing from Belize police after being suspected of murdering of his neighbour.
Turning to politics
After a brief stint in Guatemala, McAfee was deported back to the US.
The night he returned, he was solicited by a prostitute named Janice Dyson.
The two spent the night together and, despite her being 30 years his junior, they began a relationship and were married in 2013.
While back in the States, McAfee decided to try and run for president. Twice.
He ran as a representative for the Libertarian party in 2016 and 2020 – and achieved its best ever result.
Following the forays into politics, McAfee announced that he thought taxes were illegal. He said in 2019 that he hadn’t filed with the IRS since 2010.
McAfee fled his home in Tennessee with his wife Janice, 38, in January 2019.
He escaped on a ‘Freedom Boat’ around the Caribbean and dodged a $25million wrongful death lawsuit judgement in the murder of his American neighbor in Belize. McAfee was never charged in Gregory Viant Faull’s murder.
Buying into Bitcoin
At around this time, he became heavily involved with the cryptocurrency community.
Posting regularly on social media about Bitcoin, McAfee started to make appearances and give speaking engagements on the digital cryptocurrency.
He even claimed he knew the identity of Satoshi Nakamoto, the shadowy creator of Bitcoin.
Arrest and death
In August 2020 he was arrested in Norway. He happened to be wearing a thong as a face mask at the time. McAfee added he had got into a ‘tussle’ with officers and was ‘roughed up’ by them.
Just two months later on October 5, 2020, McAfee was arrested in Spain at the request of the U.S. Department of Justice for tax evasion.
The Spanish High Court earlier on Wednesday had agreed to extradite McAfee, who in October got a 10-count indictment in the Western District of Tennessee for allegedly evading taxes on millions of dollars he earned through speaking engagements and documentary and consulting work.
McAfee avoided paying taxes on his income from 2014 to 2018, federal investigators said. The tax-related criminal charges carried a sentence of up to 30 years in prison.
Then in March 2021, McAfee was hit with a separate indictment in Manhattan federal court for an alleged cryptocurrencies scheme he pushed on social media. McAfee and an accomplice are accused of defrauding bitcoin investors out of about $13million in two schemes.
In one of those schemes, according to prosecutors, they allegedly bought massive amounts of ‘alt-coin’ and tweeted about it to inflate the price, then sold it off to gain $2million in profit.
In an extradition hearing earlier in June, McAfee called the federal tax evasion charges politically motivated.
Finally, the man who once vowed never to take his own life has been found dead in a Spanish jail cell.
Everything points to suicide,’ El Pais stated and cited Spanish justice department officials. Another newspaper in Spain, El Mundo, also reported McAfee’s death by the same manner.
Police are investigating his death.