John McAfee’s endgame: ‘To stay alive as long as possible’

The software tycoon in conversation with Martin Patriquin


(Benoit Aquin for Maclean's)

He fled the Central American country of Belize to Portland, Ore., by way of Guatemala and Miami in the wake of his neighbour’s murder, with his 20-year-old girlfriend and a film crew in tow. Yet little is what it seems with John McAfee, 67, the Virginia-raised software developer, who sold his eponymous anti-virus company in the mid-’90s to pursue a life of sun, sex and adrenalin. His life changed—though not necessarily for the worse—when he became a person of interest following the November 2012 killing of American Gregory Faull in Belize. McAfee claims the government wanted to frame him for the murder, and that he orchestrated his own media feeding frenzy to prevent his detainment. His escape from the country was certainly cable news fodder, and will be part of a series of movie and book-related projects by Montreal-based Impact Future Media.

Q: So, Belize to Guatemala to Miami to Portland to a five-star hotel in Mont Tremblant, Que. Please explain.

A: Well, it’s one step after another. It’s like in The Lion in Winter. After the most ferocious fight ever put on screen, Peter O’Toole says, “How, from where we started, did it ever get to this?” And she says, “Step by step.” From Belize, I escaped into Guatemala in the company of two journalists from Vice [magazine] and [then-girlfriend] Samantha Vanegas. We crossed the border by boat, spent the night in a hotel where I’d stayed many times but because I’d always been in disguise no one noticed me. We attempted to get our passports stamped, and the guy said, “Excuse me, I must go get my supervisor.” We knew we’d get sent back. I asked if we could go and eat. Instead of getting food, we went straight to the boats. We hired a skiff and went to the town of Fronteras. Unfortunately, the Vice journalists took a photograph and someone along the way neglected to remove the location data. Within five minutes there were Google images of the hotel we were staying at. Samantha packed our bags, and we left. We found the first taxi. I bought the taxi driver’s cellphone for $500. I opened it, threw the battery out the window. We found a little pub, thanked the cab driver for his time. I said we have an hour now. Let’s eat.

Q: You were arrested there in Guatemala not long after and eventually deported to Miami, after you faked a heart attack to buy time for your lawyer, who fought to keep you from getting sent back to Belize. How does one fake a heart attack?

A: I dropped on the ground. I was actually in a fair bit of pain, and twitched a bit. The doctor kept me from being seized by the army.

Q: Do you think the Vice guys sent that picture by accident, or was it on purpose?

A: I am loath to think they did this on purpose, simply because we had become fast friends, I thought. I began to trust them. They were journalists, of course, but nevertheless human beings. Even for a journalist, this would have been way too low.

Q: You’ve said you “despised the media.”

A: I don’t like that word, “despise.” I see the media for what it is. It’s an occupation that forces an attitude and a way of acting that makes you not a lot of fun to play with. You’re slippery, tricky, deceitful.

Q: And yet you need us. What would have happened if the media hadn’t been around for you?

A: I probably wouldn’t have survived. The government of Belize would have had free rein.

Q: You hit this kind of media zeitgeist right around the time when you became a person of interest in the murder of Gregory Faull. You are a teetotaler, as you’ve said a number of times, yet you put it out that you’d tried “bath salts,” the recreational drug, and that it was the best high you’ve ever had. The immediate theory that came out was that you got “zombie high” and went off to shoot someone.

A: First of all, it is indeed a zombie high, I hear. It’s unpleasant to the user, and creates such a level of disturbance that a user had eaten the face off of a stranger in Florida a month or so earlier. It’s not something I would chase after. And yet, it was topical, and anything touching on bath salts was being talked about everywhere. I thought it was a seriously good topic. It’s all planned, of course.

Q: Up to the murder of Gregory Faull.

A: That was a tragic incident that was used by the government for the government’s benefit.

Q: What were you doing the evening of November 11, 2012?

A: That was the night of Gregory Faull’s murder?

Q: Yes.

A: I was in bed, enjoying myself.

Q: Your life was strange even before the raid on your compound and the incident involving Mr. Faull. You had adoration, you had an outlet for your words, you could be as eccentric as you wanted to be. It’s a bit like watching Charlie Sheen, except someone who is smart enough not to do a sitcom but instead live that sitcom in real life.

A: That’s absolutely true. The one difference with Charlie Sheen is during his time he was doing more drugs than I could carry, which I was not. He was doing it in a sitcom, which allows that. I was doing it in real life, which doesn’t allow a cloudy head. Even with a clear head I barely squeaked by. I couldn’t have organized the enormous press attention to my cause, which meant picking the people who would spin things in the most interesting light. Unfortunately, that interesting light was one that wasn’t flattering to me. I sacrificed self-image for freedom and life.

Q: The crazy aspect, you mean.

A:Yes. I go with that. Nothing’s better than a crazy man on the loose, especially if he is high-profile, wealthy and is involved in sex, drugs and murder. What is a better story, sir?

Q: Just ask O.J. Simpson.

A: But he didn’t play his properly. And I’m one of those people who thinks O.J. is innocent. I mean, the man’s not insane enough . . . I just believe he was innocent.

Q: Your wife-to-be, Janice Dyson, is writing a tell-all book about you. Normally people wait to get divorced before that happens.

A: We had a falling out over issues that are no one’s business but our own. And we were separated for a brief amount of time. The situation being what it is, it was snapped up immediately. When you’re mad at somebody, when you think you’ve been wronged, you do things you later regret. There are worse things she could have done. Amy, my [former] girlfriend, tried to shoot me.

Q: Yes, the incident with the .357 Magnum.

A: Right. I was asleep. She put the gun to the side of my head. She closes her eyes and pulls the trigger. I don’t know if you’ve ever fired a .357 Magnum, but the trigger pull is huge, so the barrel moved away from my head as she pulled it, just enough so that my brains weren’t blown out but the impact from the sound burst my eardrum. I don’t hear much out of it now.

Q: You built Amy a house after she tried to kill you. How is she doing?

A: She’s doing fine. She lives with an American musician named Keith, and she is quite content. We keep in constant communication. I like her very much still as a human being. She is most entertaining. She’s writing a book about me, too. I have no idea what that’s going to be.

Q: You’ve made this spoof video in which you make fun of McAfee anti-virus software, which you have nothing to do with anymore. Everything’s in there: the paranoia, the bath salts, the young women and guns, and you turned it into a farce. To what end?

A: I think that making fun of yourself does two things. It reminds you that you aren’t as serious a person as you might think you are, and it puts your opponents ill at ease.

Q: At one point you shoot a gun at the screen. I wonder how that might be interpreted, given that you are a person of interest in Gregory Faull’s murder.

A: How that’s interpreted is up to the person. It was in no way intended to include anything about Greg Faull. I had nothing to do with that murder. I barely knew the man. The fact that he was murdered is tragic, but it has nothing to do with me. It’s about the software. People are like, screw the murder, let’s hang the guy who made the software! Except I have nothing to do with the company, and nothing to do with the murder. Some of the articles ask why I have all these armed guards. Well, I live in the jungle in Belize as the only white man in the poorest district in the world. What would you do?

Q: When McAfee software first came out, you fomented paranoia with this new technology by suggesting to people that their computer might have some sort of disease. How necessary was McAfee software back then?

A: It wasn’t of paramount importance, but I knew one day it would be, and if you had the software it wasn’t going to hurt you any. I did use paranoia. I encouraged it. I admit that.

Q: What is the endgame for John McAfee?

A: To stay alive as long as possible. For the near term [it] is to successfully put out the biography, the documentary, the feature-length film, the cartoon novel. When that is finished, I’m going to sit back and plan my next move. It might include returning to Belize, who knows.

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John McAfee’s endgame: ‘To stay alive as long as possible’

  1. Stephen Brunt, the award-winning journalist with Rogers Sportsnet, shared with us this story of an unexpected encounter with McAfee in Belize:


I was down there on vacation with my family in Jan 2011. 

We went into the jungle to a place called Orange Walk — the middle of nowhere — to see some Mayan ruins. We saw McAfee’s compound, surrounded by guys carrying AK-47s and heard locals tell the story of Mr. McAfee and his private army — I didn’t know anything about him before that.

    While waiting at the dirt airstrip for the plane to take us out, a van pulls up and he gets out, looking like Rambo — bare-chested, knives, side-arms, bandoleer. He comes up to me, asks me who we are, what we’re doing there, where we’re staying. The plane lands and what appears to be a teenage girl gets off and gets into his van. “Hope you enjoy your stay,” he says and drives off.”

  2. This interview says it all.
    John McAfee knows the end is nigh, and wants to cling on to whatever pedestal he can to stay in the media limelight. If he’s so disgusted by the media, why oh why does he continually contact them? To USE them as he does all people who come into contact with the unstable addled old man.
    His end is coming either way. And soon.
    He knows this.
    John McAfee is the complete antithesis to a successful caring intellectual businessman such as Richard Branson, who actually has a brain, and uses it to further his business enterprise, whilst addled McAfee wallows in a self made quagmire of cheap earthly pleasures, which like a restless child he tires of quickly, or they tire of him even faster…
    Feel sorry of a broke almost destitute old man such as John “Addled” McAfee…

  3. Further…
    It is so sad to see the decline of John McAfee. He almost beat his demons, yet surrendered to them in his twilight years where he should be most successful.
    He allowed himself to succumb to disgusting pleasures of drugs and sex and has such low self esteem that he would allow himself to be controlled by teenage girls who have been used by any man who had 5 dollars to defile them.
    John Addled McAfee chose Belize as his so called Utopia. He failed to see the potential with his only real success in life with Anti Virus software, and like a child, sold out early for the easy life. How easy is that life now?
    What business savvy mind would sell out early for a pittance, only to see that a global enterprise would buy for BILLIONS??? An idiot like John McAfee, that’s who would.

    Intel and the global market are smirking at this failed addled ex businessman who knows he is financially destitute, can’t hold a solid relationship, and is reduced to begging the world media to assist him in his last ditch sad efforts to make the money he so obviously desperately needs to accommodate his lifestyle.

    John McAfee headed to Belize to live a life of luxury in the sun.
    Instead his self image is so very low that he chose to live in one of the slums, and to live with young girls who had been used by low level labourers for sex! How can a man have self worth when he lives with girls who have had 300 plus 5 dollar sexual partners a year??

  4. I also wonder as I, unlike John Addled McAfee, care what my family think of me?
    He obviously doesn’t.
    He isn’t in Portland. He lies about everything, and he has used and dumped people everywhere.
    His potential places of residence have been reduced to almost nowhere.
    He is scrabbling for existence and when his borrowed money runs out people, he will be the same as a bum pm skid row. So sad John.

    Go back to Belize??? Lol! Are you that addled?

  5. And also people look at the many common denominators that factor into Addled McAfees life everywhere?

    He shacks up with a big titted black chick, gets another dog named Tequila, has sex with young prostitutes that causes a relationship breakdown with Janice…

    It’s like a broken record….


    What a total and complete LOSER.

  6. “I have some stories and things to tell you, sir,” he says, rapping his right hand against a coffee table while nervously shifting his feet. “Do you have time for the truth?”


    Chad is supplying Addled McAfee with meth and young prostitutes…

    Do you have time for the truth??

    What truth Addled?

  7. Hey johnnycake

    Your end game?? To stay alive as long as you can???

    Errmm. Nope!!

    You’ve burnt too many bridges…


  8. “In order to carry a positive action we must develop a positive vision”

    Dalai Lama

    This MUST show you all what a pretesious wannabe that John Addled McAfee is! To quote a Buddhist Leader while he has sex with young girls then uses and dumps them for his own good?

    Sent to multiple sites John…

  9. Also Chad was coerced into having sex with McAfee after a drug fuelled orgy. Video amid photos forced Chad to where he is now…
    Another SLAVE of addled mind McAfee…