The widow of John McAfee, the British-American tycoon who died in a Spanish prison this week while awaiting extradition to the United States, on Friday demanded a "thorough investigation" of his death, saying her husband did not appear suicidal when they last spoke.
Authorities in Spain are conducting an autopsy on McAfee’s body but have said that everything at the scene in his cell indicated that the 75-year-old killed himself.
An official source familiar with the investigation told The Associated Press that a suicide note had been found in McAfee's pocket. The source, who was not authorized to speak about an ongoing judicial inquiry, refused to comment on the content of the note.
McAfee's Spanish lawyer, Javier Villalba, said that the family had not been informed by authorities about the note.
In her first public remarks since the software entrepreneur's death on Wednesday, McAfee's widow Janice McAfee said she wanted a "thorough investigation" to provide "answers about this was able to happen."
"His last words to me were ‘I love you and I will call you in the evening,’" the 38-year-old told reporters outside the Brians 2 penitentiary northwest of Barcelona where she recovered her late husband's belongings. She said they spoke earlier on the day he was found dead.
"Those words are not words of somebody who is suicidal," she added.
John McAfee was arrested at the Barcelona airport in October last year on a warrant issued by prosecutors in Tennessee who were seeking up to three decades of imprisonment for allegedly evading more than $4 million in taxes.
The day before he was found dead, Spain's National Court had announced that it was agreeing to his extradition to the U.S. but the decision was not final.
"We had a plan of action already in place to appeal that decision," Janice McAfee told reporters. "I blame the U.S. authorities for this tragedy: Because of these politically motivated charges against him my husband is now dead."
The National Court judge said John McAfee had provided no evidence to back his allegations that he was being politically persecuted. "On the contrary, according to his own testimony, he took part in primaries of a certain party to defend his convictions with a result little favorable to him," the judge wrote in the ruling seen by AP.
In an e-mailed statement, the U.S. State Department confirmed for the first time the tycoon’s death, offering the family condolences. It said: "We are closely monitoring local authorities’ investigation into the cause of death. We stand ready to provide all appropriate assistance to the family. Out of respect to the family during this difficult time, we have no further comment."
Results of McAfee's autopsy could take "days or weeks," authorities have said.
The entrepreneur had not been connected with the companies that took over the antivirus software he built after he sold his shares in the 1990s. That early success had made McAfee rich and followed him in his troubled biography.
In 2012, he was sought for questioning in connection with the murder of his neighbor in Belize, but was never charged with a crime. The controversy didn't stop him from making long-shot runs for the U.S. presidency starting in 2016.
But it was his more recent tax problems that kept him away from the U.S., the country where the British-born entrepreneur was raised and had built his early success.
The Tennessee prosecutors' indictments from 2020 showed that the tycoon allegedly failed to declare income made by promoting cryptocurrencies, attending speaking engagements and selling the rights for a documentary on his eventful life.
"Even though he was born in England, America was his home," Janice McAfee said. "He came there when he was a child. He had his first girlfriend there, his first case, you know, his first job. He made his first millions there and he wanted to be there. But, you know, politics just wouldn’t allow for that to happen."
John McAfee's social media postings indicated that he had chosen a northeastern Spanish coastal resort town as his base in Europe at least since late 2019.
"All John wanted to do was spend his remaining years fishing and drinking," his widow said on Friday. "He had hope that things would work out. We knew that there would be an uphill battle to continue to fight this situation. But he’s a fighter ... And anybody that knows John, that knows him even a little bit, knows that about him."
"He was just so loving. He had a big heart and he just loved people and he just wanted to have peace in his life," Janice McAfee added. "My prayers are that his soul has found the peace in death that he could not find in life."