2 years after John McAfee’s death, widow Janice is broke and needs answers – Cointelegraph Magazine
Janice McAfee, the widow of tech impresario John McAfee, is still in the midst of grief. She is doing “odd jobs to feed herself,” has run out of funds, and still doesn’t know what really happened to her husband.
Since the death of crypto guru and antivirus pioneer husband John McAfee in a Barcelona prison more than two years ago, she has remained in Spain in an undisclosed location and has only been saved from homelessness by the kindness of friends.
She can’t move on because she still doesn’t know what happened to her husband in spite of a September ruling this year from a Catalan court that John McAfee died by suicide and the case was effectively closed.
In an exclusive Zoom interview with Magazine, she explained her current situation.
“For more than two years, I’ve not only had to deal with the tragedy of John’s death, but it’s so hard to move on because the authorities refuse to release the autopsy of his death. I have tried and tried, but they will not let me see it.
“There is the opportunity of an independent autopsy, but that will cost 30,000 euros, and I don’t have the money to pay for it. All I want is to see his body for myself and know that really happened.”
“Not having the money myself to make the decision to find out what really happened is hard, but I’m hoping that giving this interview will give people the opportunity to know what’s really going on. I still have people contacting me who still can’t believe he’s dead,” she says.
What happened to John McAfee’s $100-million fortune?
Although John was worth more than $100 million after he resigned from antivirus company McAfee in 1994 and sold his stock, his official fortune had dwindled to an estimated $4 million at the time of his death, according to Celebrity Net Worth.
He claimed in 2019 that he had no money and could not pay a $25-million court order over a wrongful death lawsuit. However, he was arrested the following year on U.S. charges of tax evasion, with authorities claiming he and his team had earned $11 million promoting cryptocurrencies. From prison, he told his 1 million Twitter followers he doesn’t have any hidden crypto. “I have nothing. But I regret nothing.”
According to Janice, her husband didn’t have a will or an estate, so there is no money, and because of the judgments against him in the U.S., it’s highly unlikely that any financial legacy will be passed on to her.
There are stories that there are secret caches and documents, but Janice was deliberately kept in the dark (about alleged “secret treasure”) by her husband, so she wouldn’t be in danger. She also has a raft of unanswered questions about John’s untimely end.
“I don’t think he thought things would have ended the way they did and nor did I. I don’t know if he committed suicide; we talked every day after he was imprisoned near Barcelona. I don’t know how he got strung up.”
“I don’t know if it was with a rope or a shoelace. In the prison report, it says that when they found him, he was still alive; he had a pulse and was breathing when they found him. A faint pulse, but a pulse is a pulse.”
Janice cannot believe that when he was found in the cell with a ligature or shoelace around his neck, medical practitioners there appeared to have attempted CPR on him without removing it first.
“I went to school to be a registered nursing assistant, and I know how to do CPR. Even in the movies, it’s the first thing you do: clear the airways.”
“If somebody has something tight around their neck, that’s the last thing you would do. The first thing would be to remove the obstruction, but you can see from the prison video that didn’t happen. I don’t know if it was negligence or stupidity; it just feels sinister. But now I’m speculating, and I don’t want to do that.”
Janice McAfee was frightened after John’s death
After her husband’s death, Janice was frightened for her safety. While John had told her that the authorities were only after him, not her, she was still worried that she would be a target for others.
“John always assured me that he wouldn’t tell me anything that would put me in danger; that was a comfort. He was public about the 31 terabytes of information that he apparently possessed, but he never shared that with me, and I have no idea where it is or whether it actually existed.”
“But I feel safe at the moment. I have nothing to hide, and I don’t even know how he really died, let alone what he possessed. If there was an independent autopsy, I can get some peace. There is an opportunity to do so, but it’s very expensive.”
I first met Janice and John at a blockchain conference in Malta in 2018. Like the crypto world at the time, it was chaos — but good chaos.
I interviewed him on stage, and it wasn’t my finest hour, or maybe it was. There was something about being near him that affected me and made me behave on stage in a more carefree manner. Maybe that’s what he could do, a Svengali of sorts.
John had been drinking whisky on the side of the stage but was sober and lucid. Janice was with him, protecting him from the thousands of people who wanted to speak to him.
She reminded me of Kim Kardashian when I interviewed her in Armenia — calm, collected and almost zen-like in her presence. I immediately liked Janice and trusted her.
Later after the on-stage interview had been completed, I was approached by a husband-and-wife camera team who was doing a documentary on crypto that was almost finished, but they would love a word with John. Could I help?
I wasn’t sure but texted Janice, and she said it was OK; John apparently liked me. I was invited to the penthouse suite and convinced the armed guard outside their room that I could vouch for the people with me. Again, not something I did every day.
John laughed when he saw me. “You again, for f–k’s sake!” But he was civil to the husband-and-wife team and invited me to join him on a private yacht in Valletta Harbour that evening.
What goes on on private yachts stays there, but we became friends there and then, mainly because I was the only one “not blowing smoke up my arse,” according to John. Further invitations would follow — notably to an island off North Carolina when he was still incognito and on the run.
We stayed in touch, and I conducted a couple of interviews with him during the pandemic when I was running a podcast. When I reached out to Janet on Twitter/X to see if she would be interested in doing her first interview, she said John considered me a friend and would be happy to do so.
Janice McAfee still wants to recover John McAfee’s body
So, that’s the backstory to this interview, but what is more important is the journey from this point on. Janice is determined to follow John’s wishes that, if died, he wanted his body to be cremated.
“His body is still in the morgue at the prison where he died. I don’t know why they decided to hold on to his body. They don’t need it. Two years ago, I had the money for an independent autopsy; a year ago, I had the money, but now I don’t.”
“I am surviving by taking little jobs here and there to feed myself; that’s not what’s important. What matters is what I can do for John. I’m not a victim — John was the victim — and I need that autopsy report, not to continue a fight against Spanish authorities, but to know what really happened to him.”
I put it to Janice that the perception was that John had run out of time and had come to the end of the road. An extradition order to the U.S. had been made hours before his death, and it was surely going to be hard for him in a U.S. prison.
American authorities do not like people who thumb their noses at them, and an example would have been made of him. In some ways, didn’t his apparent suicide make complete sense to a proud man?
“We never talked about that. Ever. While he did tell me he wanted to be cremated, that was because he knew there were people who wanted him killed, but that’s not the point.”
“I don’t want to be on one side or the other. Just tell me what the body says. I’m not trying to seek justice — there’s no such thing on this earth any more. I just want John’s wishes to be fulfilled.”
Janice is an American citizen, but she’s understandably in no rush to go back to the U.S. when she doesn’t know what her status is.
John McAfee Netflix documentary
A Netflix documentary called Running with the Devil: The Wild World of John McAfee was released last year and portrays her and John as fugitives, which is not something that Janice thinks represents the real story.
It was more of a tale about the journalists themselves who tried to sensationalize a public figure and weren’t quite up to it. They centered themselves when the focus should have been on the real story of why McAfee felt disposed to be a so-called fugitive… or why Janice was staying with him.
“People forget very quickly, and I understand why because the world moves very fast nowadays. I just want him to be remembered properly, and that’s the least he deserves.”
Janice wants closure. She wants to cremate her husband, remember him with love, and work out what to do next.
I hope she gets her wish. Everybody deserves a chance to move on, and Janice McAfee much more than many others.
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Monty Munford writes regularly for the BBC, The Economist and City AM and has been a tech columnist for Forbes and The Telegraph. He also runs a growth and visibility consultancy and has appeared at more than 200 events and conferences, interviewing figures such as Tim Draper, the late John McAfee, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, Steve Wozniak, Kim Kardashian, Guns N’ Roses and many others.