Inside the wild life of John McAfee – software genius, cartel target, fugitive

Tech mogul John McAfee has been found dead in a jail cell in Spain while awaiting extradition to the United States, the shocking conclusion to a truly bizarre life.

The British-born tech whiz was the son of an American soldier and an English housewife. An abusive alcoholic, McAfee's father shot himself when John was just 15.

McAfee junior took on his father's substance abuse from a young age but was able to thrive academically alongside his drink and drug habits.

But in the first of many brushes with notoriety, McAfee was thrown off his Ph.D. programme after sleeping with an undergraduate he was supposed to be tutoring. They married soon later.

He joined NASA's New York lab as a 23-year-old maths genius, working as a software engineer for an array of Silicon Valley firms during the 1970s and 1980s computers boom.

But he became his own boss in 1987 when he founded the anti-virus company McAfee Associates.

Using the knowledge he'd picked up while working for military systems firm Lockheed Martin, McAfee had become a pro in protecting computers from malware and hacking.

The business thrived and, 16 years after his departure in 1994, was sold to Intel for more than $7.5bn (£4.7bn).

McAfee isn't credited with the rapid expansion of the company in the late-90s and early-2000s, but his name meant he would always be associated with its massive success.

  • 'Devoted' couple die in 'suicide pact' after 'they didn't want to go without each other'

Strikingly, he told the BBC in 2013 he never used his software – or any other anti-virus tech.

McAfee said: "I'm constantly under attack, yet I use no software protection.

"I protect myself by constantly changing my IP address, by not attaching my name to any device I use, and by not going on to sites where you might pick up a virus.

"Porn sites, for example, I just don't go there."

  • Logan Paul and brother Jake sent stern warning by UFC heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic

Yet despite his internet celibacy, McAfee's life off the web was far murkier.

Terrible business decisions from the mid-90s to the financial crash in 2008 meant his net worth dwindled from $100 million (£72m) to just $4 million (£2.9m), blaming the collapse on poor real estate investments.

McAfee's determination went nowhere, however, and he was soon knee-deep in investments in medicinal tech in Belize, where he relocated in 2009.

His rationale for the incredibly remote location was that its plants contained chemical compounds which could stop bacteria from launching an attack via chemical signals.

  • Why you shouldn't share snaps of your vaccine card as fraudsters take advantage

Colleagues and journalists who visited the facility were completely baffled, with his microbiologist research deputy quitting her job and putting the whole project in jeopardy.

The local Gang Suppression Unit suspected he was funding a meth lab and stormed the place in 2012, shooting his dog and confiscating his property and passport.

McAfee's summary of the situation was typically chaotic.

He said: "I was there for a year and the local politician sent a representative and asked for $2m (£1.4m) for a campaign donation.

"I said no. Two weeks later they raided my compound."

But the most striking part of McAfee's Belize adventure was the romance he developed with 16-year-old sex worker Amy Emshwiller.

Unaware she was so young, he said, the pair fell in love and married soon later.

In a night of intense emotions, she even shot him – and missed.

McAfee fled Belize later in 2012 when he was implicated in the mysterious death of his neighbour, an Orlando bar owner.

Gregory Faull was found dead in a pool of blood with his face pointed upwards and a gunshot wound.

Faull and McAfee were known not to get along, with McAfee even accusing the American of poisoning his wife's dog after it attacked a tourist.

McAfee's response to the news of Faull's death was hiding in the sand outside his property underneath a cardboard box.

That didn't prevent the authorities labelling him a "person of interest", and fearing a police assassination he soon left the country.

Get latest news headlines delivered free

Want all the latest shocking news and views from all over the world straight into your inbox?

We've got the best royal scoops, crime dramas and breaking stories – all delivered in that Daily Star style you love.

Our great newsletters will give you all you need to know, from hard news to that bit of glamour you need every day. They'll drop straight into your inbox and you can unsubscribe whenever you like.

You can sign up here – you won't regret it…

At this point McAfee began wearing a disguise, despite doing frequent interviews in which he tried to clear his name.

Belize's prime minister described McAfee as "totally paranoid, even bonkers" in thinking the police were out to kill him.

McAfee resurfaced in the States in 2013, having returned to Miami safely. In a bizarre video titled "How to Uninstall McAfee Antivirus", he made a series of incendiary claims about his former company and its staff.

A spokesperson for McAfee Inc. said they were "ludicrous" and in 2014 Intel changed the company's name to Intel Security.

McAfee continued his public escapades for much of the last decade, including two short-lived presidential runs and frequent, unhinged tweeting.

The most notable post he ever made was an eerie message warning the US government was out to kill him.

In a November 2019 post, he wrote: "Getting subtle messages from U.S. officials saying, in effect: 'We're coming for you McAfee! We're going to kill yourself'.

  • Britney Spears 'wants her life back after 13 years' after feeling like 'slave'

"I got a tattoo today just in case. If I suicide myself, I didn't. I was whackd."

McAfee was arrested at an airport in Spain late last year for tax evasion just before a planned escape to Turkey.

John didn't have much of a case, admitting in 2019 he hadn't filed a tax return in almost ten years because he felt taxes were illegal.

Just a few hours after the Spanish authorities agreed to extradite McAfee to the US to face trial, he was found dead in his cell.

The 75-year-old Silicon Valley icon was alleged to have made more than $23 million in undisclosed income, according to the Tennessee lawsuit.

Very little is known about the circumstances of McAfee's death, but his lawyers are not alleging foul play of any kind.

For emotional support, you can call the Samaritans 24-hour helpline on 116 123, email [email protected], visit a Samaritans branch in person or go to the Samaritans website.

Source: Read Full Article