Way back in 1789, Benjamin Franklin famously said, “nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.”
In the case of John McAfee, truer words have never been spoken.
The renegade former tech magnate, who created the world’s very first antivirus software, was found dead in a Spanish jail cell on Wednesday.
The apparent cause of death was suicide by hanging.
He had been in prison since October 2020, when he was arrested at Barcelona’s El Prat Airport on charges of tax evasion coming from United States prosecutors.
The indictment alleged that McAfee deliberately failed to file tax returns from 2014 to 2018, despite earning “considerable income” from multiple sources.
The document further accuses McAfee of hiding certain high-priced assets — luxury real estate, a yacht, and various cars — under other people’s names in an attempt to thwart the IRS.
On Wednesday morning, Spanish authorities announced their intentions to extradite McAfee back to the U.S.
It was only a few hours later that McAfee’s body was discovered, and it didn’t take long for social media posters to begin drawing obvious comparisons to Jeffrey Epstein.
But the strangest piece of this wild tale was right around the corner…
Observant Twitter sleuths uncovered this tweet of McAfee’s from 2019, in which he seemingly PREDICTS his future assassination and claims that it will be FRAMED as a suicide.
Getting subtle messages from U.S. officials saying, in effect: "We're coming for you McAfee! We're going to kill yourself". I got a tattoo today just in case. If I suicide myself, I didn't. I was whackd. Check my right arm.$WHACKD available only on https://t.co/HdSEYi9krq🙂 pic.twitter.com/rJ0Vi2Hpjj— John McAfee (@officialmcafee) November 30, 2019
While there’s no reason to believe that McAfee’s claims have any merit, this is certainly a captivating twist.
McAfee’s death is proving to be as wild as his life.
Speaking of McAfee’s life, let’s rewind to the early days of the tech entrepreneur…
Table of Contents
Hot IPO to Hot Mess: A Brief John McAfee History
McAfee’s career started as a talented programmer. He worked for NASA, Univac, Xerox, CSC, Booz Allen Hamilton, and then Lockheed.
It was at Lockheed that McAfee was exposed to Brain, the first virus ever written for personal computers. He was fascinated and knew what he had to do.
He immediately began developing software to remove Brain from computers … and felt he was on to something big.
In 1987, he founded McAfee Associates Inc. and began marketing his software to the public.
The program was a success, and in 1992 the company had its initial public offering.
But just one year later, in 1993, McAfee stepped down as CEO.
And In 1994, he sold his entire stake in the company.
Shortly thereafter, he began publicly lambasting the software he created, characterizing it as “Bloatware,” and eventually calling it “the worst software on the planet.”
McAfee spent the rest of the 1990s investing in a string of mostly unsuccessful companies.
His investment in firewall software Zone Labs did pay dividends when the company was acquired by Check Point Software in 2003…
But by 2009, McAfee’s net worth, which once neared a whopping $100 million, had declined to just $4 million.
The financial crisis had taken a devastating toll on McAfee’s speculative technology portfolio, and he soon realized he would need to move to a region with a relatively cheap cost of living to maintain some form of the lifestyle he’d become accustomed to.
So he moved to Belize.
You Won’t Belize It…
This is where McAfee’s story gets murky … While there isn’t a wealth of definitive information on McAfee’s time in Belize, there are a few things we do know.
He lived on Belize’s largest island, Ambergris Quay, in a compound protected by armed security with automatic weapons and ferocious guard dogs.
The sprawling estate was also reportedly filled with young Belizean women who regularly sated McAfee’s off-color sexual desires.
In November 2012, police in Belize began investigating McAfee as a person of interest in the death of Gregory Faull, a fellow American expatriate who was McAfee’s neighbor on Ambergris Quay.
According to the Memorandum and Order in the wrongful death lawsuit brought by Faull’s estate, Faull had been attacked “at least once” by McAfee’s ornery dogs. He complained to McAfee personally about the unruly animals, as well as to Belizean authorities, but nothing happened.
One of Faull’s close personal friends, Jeffrey Siegel, claims that Faull then “took matters into his own hands” by poisoning McAfee’s dogs.
McAfee arrived home late one night to discover his dogs sick and writhing in pain.
He knew they had been poisoned.
He put them out of their misery with a series of rapid gunshots, and then began “parading up and down the beach, screaming.”
The wrongful death lawsuit confirms that McAfee then “arranged for the payment of $5,000 to “violent” local man Eddie McKoy to “subdue, torture, and murder” Faull.
Soon after the deaths of McAfee’s dogs, Faull was discovered in his home with taser burns on his torso and genitals, and a single gunshot wound to the back of the head.
Siegel says that the entire island believes McAfee arranged the murder.
McAfee, however, says he was never a suspect and was never charged with anything.
Yet as a “person of interest,” McAfee still took measures to skirt the authorities and avoid questioning by illegally crossing the border to Guatemala…
And what do you do if you’re on the run all across South America … fleeing police and wanted for murder-for-hire?
Naturally, you run for President of the United States.
Why Not Just Become President?
In 2015, McAfee officially filed paperwork to run for President of the United States in the 2016 general election under the banner of the Libertarian Party.
Speaking of politics, it’s difficult to understand McAfee without being aware of his political beliefs.
McAfee was believed to be a diehard Libertarian who believed that drugs should be legal, federal income tax should be illegal and, essentially, everyone should be able to do what they want without government interference.
Unsurprisingly, this platform didn’t resonate with millions of Americans, and his campaign was ultimately suspended.
Despite making yet another attempt to run for president in 2020, McAfee’s political aspirations never gained steam beyond a certain level of morbid fascination from journalists.
It was likely during the increased press coverage of McAfee’s presidential runs that income tax authorities began seriously investigating his financial history.
When you run for president, your finances are put under a microscope, as evidenced by the many years of debate over President Trump’s tax returns (or lack thereof).
This was the worst possible scenario for an individual like McAfee, who seems to have intentionally avoided filing tax returns between 2014 and 2018.
During this time, McAfee had attempted to reinvent himself as a cryptocurrency guru, and he was allegedly earning a significant amount of money off of his blockchain investments.
Yet he still wasn’t filing tax returns, and he certainly wasn’t making payments to the IRS.
Rent is always due to Uncle Sam, and McAfee was four years late on his bill.
As you’ve heard before … the rest is history.
The Bottom Line About John McAfee
Although it may be difficult to imagine, there’s even more to this story that we didn’t have time to get into.
From his reported drug-fueled sexcapades in Belize, to his venture into crypto evangelism, to his brief foray into the production of alternative medicine — John McAfee was certainly a one-of-a-kind iconoclast who could never have his complete saga told in a single article.
After his alleged suicide, followers of McAfee’s timeline are left with more questions than answers.
How much money did McAfee have at the time of his death? Did he truly arrange the murder of Gregory Faull?
And most intriguingly, is there any legitimate evidence to support the claims in McAfee’s 2019 tweet?
Did he actually commit suicide … or is it possible that he was “whacked,” just as he predicted he would be?
I am content in here. I have friends.— John McAfee (@officialmcafee) October 15, 2020
The food is good. All is well.
Know that if I hang myself, a la Epstein, it will be no fault of mine.
After reading such a twisted tale, it can sometimes be challenging for readers to take away a meaningful lesson.
So what’s the moral of McAfee’s story?
It all comes back to the great Benjamin Franklin, and his keen take that “nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.”
Featured cover image credit: Ivelin Radkov/Shutterstock.com