John McAfee's Ominous Suicide Tweets Stir Epstein-Style Conspiracies After Death in Jail

Computer entrepreneur John McAfee's death in a Spanish jail, reported by local media to be a suicide, drove American conspiracy theorists into a frenzy as they seized on 9-month-old tweets saying he feared for his life.

McAfee, a British American wanted on tax evasion charges in the United States has long been a controversial figure: credited with creating the multi-billion dollar antivirus software industry, accused of manipulating cryptocurrency markets and sought by police investigating a murder in Belize.

In Spain, the Catalan Justice Department said prison medics failed to resuscitate McAfee and that everything pointed to suicide, the BBC reported, echoing an earlier report by the Spanish newspaper El Pais. Earlier in the day a Spanish judge had approved a U.S. extradition request so he could tried for tax evasion.

The Catalan statement did nothing to quell speculation on the American internet, given McAfee's tweets saying he feared he would meet the same fate as Jeffrey Epstein, the convicted pedophile who died by suicide in a New York jail in 2019.

McAfee's tweet, on Oct. 15, 2020, while he was in a Barcelona jail, read, "I am content in here. I have friends. The food is good. All is well. Know that if I hang myself, a la Epstein, it will be no fault of mine."

I am content in here. I have friends.

The food is good. All is well.

Know that if I hang myself, a la Epstein, it will be no fault of mine.

— John McAfee (@officialmcafee) October 15, 2020

Epstein's death has been the focus of wild speculation by QAnon conspiracists who claim he was murdered to protect his powerful friends and allies. QAnon followers believe America is run by an elite group of Satan-worshipping pedophiles.

Another McAfee tweet on Nov. 30, 2019 read, "Getting subtle messages from U.S. officials saying, in effect: 'We're coming for you McAfee! We're going to kill yourself'. I got a tattoo today just in case. If I suicide myself, I didn't. I was whackd. Check my right arm."

Getting subtle messages from U.S. officials saying, in effect: "We're coming for you McAfee! We're going to kill yourself". I got a tattoo today just in case. If I suicide myself, I didn't. I was whackd. Check my right arm.$WHACKD available only on https://t.co/HdSEYi9krq:) pic.twitter.com/rJ0Vi2Hpjj

— John McAfee (@officialmcafee) November 30, 2019

Approximately an hour after his death was announced, McAfee's official Instagram posted an image of a bold letter "Q."

Twitter user @_legrek shared a collage of McAfee's social media posts, and in a second tweet, shared the hashtag "#johnmcafeedidntkillhimself."

McAfee was arrested in Spain on Oct. 6, 2020, over tax evasion charges. He was found dead shortly after a Spanish High Court authorized his extradition to the United States. He could've appealed the extradition decision. The final decision would've required approval by the Spanish Cabinet.

Prosecutors said that from 2014 to 2018 McAfee had evaded taxes on unreported income. The income allegedly came from speaking engagements, promoting cryptocurrencies while consulting and selling the rights to his life story. An indictment alleged he had concealed land property, vehicles, a yacht and other assets by registering them under other people's names. If convicted, he faced up to 30 years in prison.

John McAfee suicide Spanish jail Epstein tweet
In an October 2020 tweet, anti-virus software creator John McAfee wrote, "Know that if I hang myself, a la Epstein, it will be no fault of mine." In this photo, McAfee, speaks to journalists at the China Internet Security Conference in Beijing on August 16, 2016. Fred Dufour / AFP/Getty

In a June virtual court hearing, McAfee said the charges against him were politically motivated. He believed he would spend the rest of his life in prison if Spanish authorities extradited him to the United States.

In January 2019, McAfee posted a video claiming he was evading U.S. legal authorities by living on a boat in international waters.

"I have not paid taxes for eight years. I have not filed returns. Every year I tell the IRS 'I am not filing a return, I have no intention of doing so, come and find me,'" he said in a Twitter video.

In a Jan. 3, 2019 tweet, he wrote, "I have not filed a tax return for 8 years. Why? 1: taxation is illegal. 2: I paid tens of millions already and received Jack S*** in services. 3. I'm done making money. I live off of cash from McAfee Inc. My net income is negative. But i am a prime target for the IRS. Here I am."

In March, the U.S. Attorney's Office in the Southern District of New York charged McAfee with conspiracy to commit fraud and money laundering.

The charges alleged that McAfee and his bodyguard, Jimmy Gale Watson Jr., bought cryptocurrency assets before promoting them to McAfee's million-plus Twitter followers. The pair allegedly sold the assets after McAfee's tweets caused their value to rise.

john mcafee conspiracy theory death suicide
John McAfee, shown here speaking to reporters in 2012 after being deported to the U.S. from Guatemala, died of a likely suicide on Wednesday. His death has been the subject of conspiracy theories echoing those that swirled around Jeffrey Epstein after the report of his death. PAULA BUSTAMANTE/AFP/Getty

The charges further alleged that cryptocurrency startups had paid the duo over $11 million to promote their assets on Twitter. These payments were never disclosed to McAfee's Twitter followers or the cryptocurrency purchasers, the U.S. Department of Justice said.

In November 2012, McAfee went into hiding after police in the Central American country of Belize sought him as a "person of interest" in the shooting murder of American Gregory Faull. Faull and McAfee both lived on the coastal island of Ambergris Caye when Faull was found dead in a pool of his own blood.

McAfee denied killing Faull. Belize's Prime Minister Dean Barrow called McAfee "paranoid" and publicly asked him to cooperate with the police.

"I don't want to be unkind, but he seems to be extremely paranoid, I would go as far as to say bonkers," Barrow said.

Belizean police had detained McAfee earlier in 2012 for allegedly possessing guns and drugs. Police later released him without pressing charges.

Newsweek contacted the Department of Justice for comment.

Update (6/23/2021, 8:50 p.m.): This article has been updated to include additional information about McAfee's past with cryptocurrency and the incident in Belize.