Showtime is set to release an exposé that accuses eccentric anti-virus pioneer John McAfee of rape and murder, titled Gringo: The Dangerous Life of John McAfee.
John McAfee is a 71-year-old computer genius who pioneered the first anti-virus program at McAfee Associates, which was eventually bought by Intel and renamed. McAfee began his career as a programmer for NASA’s Institute for Space Studies in New York City in the late 1960s, and served as a software consultant for Computer Sciences Corporation and Booz Allen Hamilton. While consulting to Lockheed, he received a copy of the Brain computer virus, which motivated him to develop software to combat viruses.
McAfee’s net worth was over $100 million, including interests in smartphone apps, yoga, and all-natural antibiotics, but he suffered huge losses in the global crisis of 2007. After the financial crash, he went “off-the-grid” to live in Belize and Guatemala. He came back to the U.S. two years ago to run for the 2016 Libertarian Party nomination for President of the United States, which he lost to Gary Johnson.
The Showtime documentary, by filmmaker Nanette Burstein, alleges a litany of scandalous and criminal actions by McAfee during his years in Central America. Relying on interviews with McAfee’s former friends, employees and business colleagues, Burstein claims that the Silicon Valley tech wizard became mentally unhinged from reality and engaged in a torrent of illegal actions that included rape and murder.
Burstein says that she traveled to Belize last year expecting to do some kind of “character study” about the always colorful McAfee. But once she began communicating with residents, the breadth of the story expanded into something much more sinister:
“I knew some things (from prior news stories and profiles), but as I got more into it was all, quite frankly, very shocking to me,” Burstein told SiliconValley.com. She added, “We discovered all this surprising stuff that I had absolutely no idea about.”
Burstein spent three months in Belize talking to residents familiar with McAfee. She describes the portrait they provide as something out of Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness novel. McAfee recruited known felons to be his armed bodyguards, and then supposedly isolated himself on an island compound where he took impoverished teens to provide him sexual favors as his “girlfriends.”
Burstein rolls out a story in Gringo suggesting that McAfee:
- Allegedly paid a Belize hitman $5,000 to torture and kill Greg Faull, his American neighbor. Faull had several run-ins with McAfee over the eccentric McAfee allegedly letting his dogs roam the neighborhood and local beaches;
- Allegedly hired thugs to abduct David Middleton, whom he suspected of robbing his home. They allegedly repeatedly tasered and stabbed Middleton, who slipped into a coma and died; and
- Allegedly drugged and sexually assaulted biologist Allison Adonizio, while she was working for him on a pharmaceutical project; and
- Allegedly bribed local police by showering them with expensive firearms and other equipment.
With his wealth ad audacity, the film suggests that McAfee was allowed to run roughshod in an impoverished nation.
Adonizio claims, “There was so much crazy (crap) that I don’t know where to start.” She describes allegedly paranoid, psychotic, volatile and downright scary behavior. Another source in the movie refers to McAfee as just “bonkers.”
Burstein claims she learned so much in a short period of time because, “a lot of people there felt burned and screwed over by him.”
Burstein’s filming of Gringo includes ongoing email and text messages from McAfee since the filming began. McAfee initially turned down Burstein for an interview about his travails in Belize. But McAfee allegedly bombarded her with threatening and combative messages, such as describing Burstein as “Satan” and saying she “will be my last stand.”