Janice McAfee: ‘I came to Spain with John and I don’t want to leave without him’

The body of the antivirus creator has been lying in a morgue in Barcelona for over a year and a half, waiting for a judge to authorize a second autopsy

Janice McAfee during the interview in Málaga, Spain.
Janice McAfee during the interview in Málaga, Spain.García-santos

John McAfee, the famous creator of the antivirus software named after him, died inside a prison in Spain’s northeastern region of Catalonia on June 23, 2021 aged 75, after being informed that a Spanish court had approved his extradition to the United States where he was wanted for tax crimes. Forensic experts concluded that he committed suicide. Since then, his body has been kept at -18ºC at the Institute of Legal Medicine and Forensic Sciences of Catalonia, waiting for a judge to decide whether to accept new proceedings or definitively shelve the case. In a recent interview held in Costa del Sol, where she is staying with friends, his partner Janice McAfee, 40, said that too much time has elapsed: “It’s difficult to not feel that this is intentionally cruel and intentionally inhumane, because so much time has passed.”

Question. You have been in Spain for over a year and a half, waiting for the Barcelona court to authorize a second autopsy on your partner, John McAfee. How are you feeling?

Answer. I’m okay, considering. I’m tired. I‘m ready for this to be over and to have a response from the courts. There was an appeal filed with the Barcelona courts after they attempted to close down the investigation without releasing John’s autopsy report [the lawyer clarifies that they believe that autopsy was incomplete]. It’s well within my rights to know what exactly happened. That’s not to besmirch the Spanish courts or anyone here. It’s just that I would like to have the information for myself as opposed to having to just trust their word for it.

Q. Would you have ordered a second autopsy if you had known the process would take so long?

A. In hindsight, after knowing that it’s been so long, I might have made a different decision. But at the time I could just make the decision based on the information I had.

Q. You’ve said you don’t think he committed suicide.

A. No, I don’t know. That’s the thing, and that is why I want the autopsy report [a more exhaustive opinion], so there won’t be any speculation.

Q. The autopsy says he committed suicide.

A. I understand that. And that’s why I’m asking for the autopsy report, so that I can know that as well [for more forensic tests to be performed]. If I can get that information, then there would be no need for a second autopsy.

Janice McAfee in Málaga, Spain.
Janice McAfee in Málaga, Spain.Garcia-Santos (El Pais)

Q. Are you in a legal battle with John McAfee’s daughter after his death? Her lawyer claims you were divorced.

A. I am not in a legal battle with anyone. Our marital status in America has no bearings on our status here in Spain. As far as our relationship, we were still husband and wife. That’s what he considered me. I was his wife and he was my husband. And we still lived together as a couple.

Q. How did you end up in Spain, in a small town in Tarragona province?

A. It was completely up to John. I was just kind of following where he led. I do know he had friends here and they were assisting us with just day to day living and navigating our situation the best that they could.

Q. What was your relationship with a hotel that was converted into a crypto farm in Cambrils? Did you live there?

A. John’s friends were helping us with the expectation of privacy, and so I’d rather not speak about where we were staying. I have no knowledge about his relationship to the hotel or the crypto farm.

Q. When did you arrive?

A. In the late summer or early fall of 2019.

Q. Why are you still in Spain?

A. I came to Spain with John, and I don’t want to leave Spain without him. Although it’s been difficult staying here, being away from my loved ones, my support system, I just felt it necessary.

Q. McAfee was arrested in October 2020 at El Prat airport. Why did he take that plane to Turkey if he knew that the justice system was after him?

A. He was traveling to go visit friends. We had traveled before outside of Spain. There was no warrant for him, which is also something I don’t think many people knew. He was able to show his passport everywhere and he had never had a problem. He was never stopped. He was never taken into questioning or anything. And what he explained to me once I was able to speak to him after he was arrested, was that his passport was flagged as stolen, and that’s why they stopped him. And while he was being detained for that, that’s when the warrant came down for his arrest, for the US charges.

Q. That’s not the official explanation from the police, who say they had a warrant.

A. I understand that they are going to tell a different story... we left America in January of 2019. And during that entire time, we were traveling to different countries. We traveled to the Bahamas, we traveled to Cuba, the Dominican Republic, and then we traveled to the United Kingdom, Spain, Italy, Germany and many countries. And he never had a problem, not once. And he showed his passport in these places, and he never had an issue until this last time.

Q. Did McAfee die rich or broke?

A. That’s an interesting question... I honestly don’t know. I know we used cash to pay for the attorneys and everything. I helped with what little funds I had. I’m sure he had cryptocurrency. Where they are or how much he had, I don’t know. But his finances were just that, his finances.

Q. So who knows?

A. I don’t know. He didn’t have a will, so there’s no estate for anyone to claim.

Janice McAfee poses during the interview in Málaga.
Janice McAfee poses during the interview in Málaga.garcía-Santos

Q. Are you afraid that someone will think that your real intention is to make money?

A. I just want to know what happened to John. But I’m not looking for money. I’m here and spending my own money. Something else I would like to clear up, because I think this was widely misreported as well, is that he was found dead in his prison cell. He was not dead. He was alive. He was breathing and he had a pulse. And that’s in their police report. So my need or my wanting the autopsy report is because I would like to know what happened from the time that they found him alive with a heartbeat. Granted, it wasn’t strong, but he was still alive. And so I want to know what happened from the time he was found until the time that they pronounced him dead.

Q. Do you think the government has any responsibility for his death?

A. I don’t know. I don’t know how the prison system works here. I just know it’s been really difficult not getting the answers and it almost feels deliberate. The appeal was filed in February of last year. We were supposed to have an answer in October at the latest. And here we are, in January 2023, with no answer. It’s difficult to not feel that this is intentionally cruel and intentionally inhumane because so much time has passed. I’ve tried to be reasonable and be patient and think maybe Covid, you know, things are backed up... But this is an insane amount of time to have to wait to bury a loved one. And I just can’t understand why it would possibly take this long just to say yes or no. I would have thought it would have been a quick decision that could have been made, so that I could collect his remains and and lay him to rest as every human being deserves.

Q. Surrounded by weapons and private security, bunkered... Was McAfee living in a state of paranoia that could have affected him in prison?

A. Maybe he might have been a bit paranoid, but there were also people after him. So the paranoia was not without reason. And he definitely had people coming after him looking to do him harm, whether that was physically or whether they were trying to extort money from him, whether they were trying to blackmail him, whatever it may have been, that’s what he attracted because he was wealthy. People saw him as as an easy target. And it’s nothing out of the ordinary, it’s what most celebrities do.

Q. In prison, did he tell you if he detected something strange, someone unusual, something abnormal?

A. I would imagine he didn’t tell me everything that was happening because he probably didn’t want me to worry. I don’t know about any overly negative experiences that he had. He said mostly that the guards treated him nice. They were kind to him. The prisoners were kind to him. They kind of looked out for him. A lot of the prisoners and the guards alike were actually pretty surprised that he was in the prison just because of what his charges were and the fact of him being American and he being somewhat of a public figure. They called him Papa America.

Q. Would you say he was depressed?

A. I wouldn’t say depressed, I’d say he had good and bad days. We were able to speak every day, three times a day. The calls lasted only eight minutes each. Usually, I would read him the headlines, we would talk about the news, or he would give me a tweet that he wanted me to post on his behalf. He had more good days than bad.

Q. Do you think there is anything left of the legacy of John McAfee, the cybersecurity pioneer?

A. That legacy still stands strong because he was so brilliant in that field of cybersecurity. Obviously his later stage in life kind of began to overshadow it. People forget how brilliant he was and how much of a genius he was and how he was able to reinvent himself time and time again. History will be kind to him. He was a very polarizing figure, you either hated him or you loved him. If people are interested to know who John really was, I think there is a plethora of information out there about him, and not just the scandals [including the murder accusation involving a neighbor in Belize], although that’s just human nature. His legacy speaks for itself.

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