Two days ago I wrote a post questioning the veracity of a blog purported to be written by antivirus pioneer John McAfee, who's been on the run from Belizean authorities looking to question him about the murder of his neighbor. The blog's apparent administrator -- artist Chad Essley, who says he is writing a graphic novel about McAfee's experiences in Belize -- left a comment on that post inviting me to contact him to learn "the true story."
What follows is an edited version of our email conversation, starting with what Essley says he does and does not know regarding McAfee's whereabouts. Make of it what you will, keeping in mind the seriousness of McAfee's situation and his penchant for toying with the overly credulous:
Is McAfee still in Belize? And, if so, what would you say to those who find it difficult to believe that he hasn't left the country, given the level of fear for his safety that he describes?
I am in Portland, Oregon, and do not know his location in Belize. He contacts me daily. I have no reason to think he could have left the country. It would be difficult, as he is very distinct looking and they are on the lookout for him.
Other than his word, do you have any way of knowing that he did not commit the murder?
I do not have any way of knowing, but nor does anyone else. Having met him, and looked into his eyes ... shared coffee with him, I do not believe he would ever be capable of something like that. I think it's more than likely that he is being set up, and I believe his fears of persecution by the prime minister and the (Gang Suppression Unit in Belize) may be well founded.
Are you and McAfee business partners or co-authors of the book project?
A business plan or partnership hasn't been decided yet. But it is probably likely. ... I am open to sharing revenue with John on my graphic novel, since it involves him directly. Everyone else writing about him has taken his stories and ran straight to the bank with them. I will not do so. ...
I happened to fall into this whirlwind quite by accident. I met Mr. McAfee on a private message board, which could be described as a Facebook before Facebook was invented. ...
John McAfee happened to be one of the users posting to the discussion forum about his new anti-bacterial quorum sensing topical solution he was creating in Belize. I hadn't realized it was indeed him. I saw a person posting pictures of their yacht, boating around Belize with his various businesses, and sent a quick note asking him if he needed a short animated film for one of his businesses.
He replied yes, and wired all of the money up front from his personal McAfee trust. I then googled / realized who I was dealing with. (He went by the a nickname on the message board.)
He later canceled the project, not being able to view video in Belize on his slow Internet connection, and said the money was now a gift. A year later, the initial raid on this compound on the mainland happened, and I wrote to him with my concern that he was doing OK, and telling him I was sorry they had shot his poor dogs.
I received a reply, "Time to come to Belize. This is my friend Moneypenny (cc'd). Moneypenny will arrange everything." I then received a round trip ticket to Belize via email.
He told me before I went that he wanted me to draw comics about the absurdity of his persecution in Belize, and when I arrived, things weren't very funny. They were dangerous, and I left ten days early from my 30 day stay. So the graphic novel started as a way to just document some of the injustices he was already facing down there, and to document parts of his life that were too absurd for merely words to describe.
Now what I could have never imagined, is that the police would want him in questioning of the murder of another American, and the events that followed. John asked me to do a literal one click install of a blog software for him, and to give him the password to start posting to it. He's always been kind to me, and for some reason wanted to promote my drawings that he's enjoyed from the message boards, and things I've done for the last 20 years in animation and so forth.
I can only say that getting caught up in this has been very shocking and life-changing, and I hope that my story resonates. My story has really been a sidebar to all of this, but I've been drawn in closer as time goes on.
Explain the "pre-written" part that McAfee referred to in his "If I am captured" post.
I'm a little unclear on the pre-written aspect of "If I am captured." I believe he has some statements prepared in case he is captured that he will have me push the 'post 'button on.
Whether McAfee is in Belize, innocent or guilty, he doesn't seem like he needs any help pushing buttons.
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