What happened to John McAfee? His death, prison time and net worth explained

A new Netflix documentary explores the colourful life of John McAfee

a medium shot of John McAfee posing next to a yacht
(Image credit: Getty)

Netflix is back with another gripping true crime documentary, and viewers are in for a a wild ride with Running with the Devil: The Wild World of John McAfee. But many will be asking, what happened to John McAfee?

First came The Most Hated Man on the Internet about revenge porn criminal Hunter Moore, closely followed by the bingeworthy I Just Killed My Dad documentary about Anthony Templet. Untold: The Girlfriend Who Didn't Exist similarly shocked Netflix viewers with the true story of catfish Ronaiah Tuiasosopo - but if you thought those were wild you've got another thing coming. Running with the Devil: The Wild World of John McAfee, tells the colourful story of John McAfee, the creator of one of the most successful pieces of computer software of all time, McAfee Anti-Virus. But while he was hugely successful, John also found himself in trouble with the law several times and eventually fled when police sought him for questioning about the murder of his neighbour – and he took a film crew with him.

Netflix says of the feature-length documentary: "With access to hundreds of hours of never-before-broadcast footage of McAfee as he’s pursued by the authorities, this is the definitive story of a larger-than-life character, a man who ran for President, escaped from prison multiple times, and claimed to have hacked the world." Many who have tuned in are keen for up-to-date details about  John McAfee and his wife Janice McAfee now - and we've shared exactly what happened to him.

What happened to John McAfee?

John McAfee was found dead at age 75 in a prison cell in the Brians 2 Penitentiary Centre near Barcelona, Spain on 23 June 2021. His death occurred shortly after the Spanish National Court authorised his extradition to the U.S.

Before his arrest, John McAfee had been on the run on and off for years. The Netflix documentary follows McAfee on the run and fleeing Belize police after being suspected of murdering of his neighbour. 

He was later arrested in Guatemala for illegally entering the country, and was eventually released and deported to the United States in 2012 after faking a heart attack.

While back in the States, John, who believed that taxes were "illegal," decided to try and run for president in 2016 and again in 2020.

Over the years, John's behaviour became increasingly erratic and paranoid and he often believed he was 'targeted' by police.

John McAfee: Cause of death

John McAfee's cause of death was officially ruled as suicide by hanging. He was allegedly found with a suicide note in his pocket. The Catalan Justice Department said 'everything indicates' he killed himself by hanging and this was later confirmed in an official autopsy.

However, John's wife Janice doesn't believe his death was suicide and has been campaigning to have an independent autopsy performed on John's body since July of 2021, to determine if the official cause of death can be challenged, or investigated privately.

John's body has been in the custody of the Spanish legal system since the date of his death, June 23, 2021, and Janice is petitioning to have his body released back to her.

Explaining how he didn't appear suicidal when they last spoke, Janice said: "His last words to me were 'I love you and I will call you in the evening.’ Those words are not words of somebody who is suicidal.

She also pointed out a tattoo that John got two years prior to his death and of which he tweeted: “I got a tattoo today just in case. If I suicide myself, I didn't. I was whackd. Check my right arm.”

Why was John McAfee in jail?

John was arrested on 5 October 2020 in Spain at the request of the U.S. Department of Justice for tax evasion. John had avoided paying taxes on his income from 2014 to 2018 despite earning millions, federal investigators said. The tax-related criminal charges carried a sentence of up to 30 years in prison.

In 2019, John told Fox News that he had paid no tax since 2010 and has made it clear he thinks taxes are 'illegal.'

The day after he was arrested, on 6 October, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filed a complaint alleging that John and his bodyguard promoted certain initial coin offerings in a fraudulent cryptocurrency pump and dump scheme.

On 5 March 2021, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York formally indicted him and an executive adviser on these charges. He was held in Spain following his arrest until his death in June 2021.

Why was John McAfee on the run?

John McAfee was on the run several times throughout his life. He first stint was in 2012, following the death of his neighbour, Gregory Faull, in Belize. 

A local resident explains in the documentary how John and Gregory had fallen out earlier in the year over John's four dogs, which were harassing his neighbour's parrot. 

John's dogs were poisoned and killed, and just a day later, Gregory was found dead with a single gunshot through his head.

Paranoid John believed authorities in Belize would kill him if he turned himself in for questioning, to which Belize’s then-Prime Minister Dean Barrow called John 'paranoid and bonkers.'

John was never charged in Gregory Faull’s murder. However, John went on the run again in 2019 - this time from US authorities over tax evasion charges. He lived on a boat until his arrest in Spain in October 2020.

John McAfee posing in a suit against a brick wall

(Image credit: Netflix)

Even before the murder of Gregory, John claimed to have been targeted by the police, especially when he was arrested for unlicensed drug manufacturing and possession of an unlicensed weapon in Belize. 

Other charges in the US against him started to build up too, including a civil lawsuit after two deaths related to his involvement in a aerotrekking accident, plus a DUI and possession of a firearm charge in Tennessee.

How did John McAfee get caught?

John got caught for the first time thanks to two VICE reporters, who had joined him on the run. They inadvertently revealed his hiding place by publishing a geo-tagged photo in an article titled “We’re with John McAfee right now, suckers!"

They travelled with him to Guatemala, where he was arrested for illegally entering the country. He was due to be deported back to Belize, but John faked a heart attack which led to him being hospitalised. He then flew back to America after being released.

John later explained that he faked the heart attacks to buy time for his attorney to file a series of appeals that ultimately prevented his deportation to Belize.

He was caught and subsequently arrested at Barcelona's El Prat airport in October 2020 while trying to travel to Instanbul, Turkey. A Spanish police source said: “He was travelling to Istanbul and when his documents were run through the database, it emerged that he was the subject of a US warrant on fraud charges."

John McAfee net worth

John McAfee's net worth at the time of his death was $4million. His net worth was as high as $100 million after he resigned as chief executive of McAfee in 1994 and sold his stock holdings in the business. 

However, he lost much of it thanks to bad investments, increasing legal troubles and the 2008 global recession. According to Celebrity Net Worth: “A series of bad investments, including a large bet on Lehman Brothers' bonds, cost McAfee millions and forced him to sell real estate and other assets for pennies on the dollar.

"McAfee sold a $25m Colorado estate for just $5.7m. He also sold a mansion in Hawaii, a ranch in New Mexico and a Cessna private jet."

The Lehman Brothers went bankrupt in the 2008 global financial crisis.

What happened to John McAfee?

(Image credit: Getty)

How much did McAfee sell McAfee for?

John sold his stake in McAfee in 1994 for a reported $100 million. In August 1993, McAfee stepped down as chief executive, but remained with the company as the chief technical officer. He was succeeded by Bill Larson.

After various mergers and ownership changes, Intel acquired McAfee in August 2010. In January 2014, Intel announced that McAfee-related products would be marketed as Intel Security. 

John expressed his joy at the name change, saying: "I am now everlastingly grateful to Intel for freeing me from this terrible association with the worst software on the planet."

 John continued to bad-mouth the company and the business was soon de-merged from Intel, once more under the McAfee name.

Who owns McAfee now?

In March 2022, McAfee went private via a buyout from an investor group led by Advent International Corporation, in a deal valued at more than $14 billion.

Back in October 2020, the company returned to the public stock market and was valued at about $8.6 billion based on the outstanding shares listed in its prospectus.

McAfee shares were traded on the NASDAQ stock exchange under ticker symbol MCFE, which marked its return to the public market after 9 years. However, less than two years later, the stock were delisted when the company was taken private.

The current CEO of McAfee is Greg Johnson.

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Robyn Morris
Entertainment writer - contributor

Robyn is a freelance celebrity journalist with ten years experience in the industry. While studying for a degree in Media and Cultural Studies at London College of Communication, she did internships at Now and Heat magazines. After graduating, she landed a job at Star magazine, where she worked her way up to features editor. She then worked at Future as Deputy Celebrity Content Director across Woman, Woman’s Own, Woman’s Weekly and Woman & Home magazines.