Software Mogul Turned Fugitive—The life of John McAfee

John McAfee, the creator of the McAfee antivirus software, allegedly killed himself in Barcelona Jail on 23 June, 2021. The wild child of Silicon Valley was found dead mere hours after a Spanish court approved his extradition to the United States to face charges of tax evasion. 

He was indicted in Tennessee on tax evasion charges and furthermore, charged for cryptocurrency fraud in New York. This led him to flee from the US authorities for years, some of which he spent on his mega-yacht. 

John McAfee, the ‘Steve Jobs’ of cybersecurity

Known for his eccentric behaviour and colourful personality, McAfee was a pioneer of antivirus software. In the 70s, McAfee was employed as a programmer by NASA, and by 1987 he founded McAfee Associates to sell his first-ever commercial anti-virus software. He resigned in 1994 and went on to become the company’s most vocal critic, asking customers to uninstall the company’s software and calling it ‘Bloatware’. But the program still carries his name and currently has 500 million users worldwide.

He later founded the company behind PowWow, one of the first instant messaging and chat programs for Windows OS. He went on to invest in a firewall maker ZoneAlarm and joined the company’s board of directors. His personal and business interests included smartphone apps, yoga, cryptocurrency, and recreational drugs.


The Journey from Pioneer to Crime Lord

McAfee’s fortunes plummeted from 100 million to just 4 million. Having been gravely hit by the recession in 2008, McAfee had to auction off his properties, expensive antiques, and art collection. He then started QuorumEx, which claimed to make herbal-based antibiotics. It came under the police radar on the suspicions of manufacturing methamphetamine.

The research facility was shut down, although he was never charged. It was reported that when police raided his compound, officers found him in bed with a minor. He resided in Belize for a number of years before he was considered a ‘person of interest’ in the killing of his neighbour Gregory Faull.

McAfee denied his involvement in the killing and went into hiding from the local authorities. He was arrested in Guatemala after being on the run for a month. When he was about to be deported back to Belize, he faked two heart attacks. This bought time for his attorney to file a series of appeals that ultimately prevented his deportation to Belize and caused his return to the United States.

McAfee being transmitted in an ambulance in Guatemala in December 2012


While in the US, he met Janice Dyson, a prostitute whom he solicited, who then went on to become his wife. In 2018, he was reported to have fathered 47 children.

In 2015, McAfee announced his run for President as the candidate from a newly announced Cyber party, but later, he switched to the Libertarian Party. He ran again for the US presidency in 2020.

In July 2019, he was arrested in the Dominican Republic on suspicion of travelling on a yacht carrying high-caliber weapons and ammunition. In August 2020, McAfee lied that he was arrested in Norway during the COVID-19 pandemic after refusing to replace a lace thong with a more effective face mask.

In October 2020, McAfee was arrested in Spain at the request of the United States Department of Justice for tax evasion. He was jailed in Spain, and argued that his attempted extradition to the United States was politically motivated.

McAfee in his jail cell

After Spain’s highest court approved his extradition to the US, he was found dead at the Brians 2 penitentiary in northeastern Spain.

Conspiracies surrounding his death

His death sparked several conspiracy theories similar to the ‘Epstein didn’t kill himself’ stories. These theories were fuelled by two instances. First, three days before McAfee’s death, his wife claimed that the US government wanted him to die in prison. Second was his old tweet, which, hours after his death, started to go viral.

He tweeted in Barcelona Jail in Oct 2020.

His tweets repeatedly claimed he’d never kill himself. Even his wife and lawyer said he was never suicidal.

McAfee claimed in 2019 to have more than 31 terabytes of incriminating data related to corruption at the highest levels. There are already speculations going around about him having a ‘dead man’s switch.’

His Instagram account posted the single letter Q the day he died. The Q is a reference to the QAnon conspiracy theory which claims that Donald Trump was working to bring down a secret World order along with child trafficking rings with several high profile politicians and celebrities involved.

People are also talking about an ethereum based token associated with McAfee. People claimed Instagram’s metadata led them to an Ethereum smart contract called ‘Epstein,’ which shows an ERC20 token called ‘whackd (WHACKD).’ Because of the ongoing onchain movement in the Epstein smart contracts and the whackd tokens, people believe these are linked to McAfee.

Theories from Reddit, 4chan, and Twitter

A judge in northeastern Spain ordered an autopsy on 25 June whose results may take weeks to come, officials reported. Whether it was a case of suicide or there’s foul play involved, only time will tell.

Written by Abha Deo for MTTN

Edited by Sriya Mistry for MTTN

Featured Image via Unsplash
Images via WionNews,,

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