A new documentary sets its sights on the controversial computer antivirus pioneer John McAfee, who made headlines four years ago while
on the run
from authorities in Belize after they sought to question him in the execution-style murder of his neighbor.
Gringo: The Dangerous Life of John McAfee
, which premiered on Sept. 24, Oscar-nominated filmmaker Nanette Burstein travels to the impoverished South American nation where the multi-millionaire software developer moved in 2009 and digs into his alleged involvement in two homicides and the alleged rape of his business partner.
Not surprisingly, McAfee, whose popular antivirus software was acquired by Intel in 2010 for $ 7.68 billion, doesn’t plan on watching the documentary.
“Let me make this perfectly clear,” he tells PEOPLE. “I had absolutely
nothing to do
with the murder of [his neighbor] Gregory Faull or anyone else. And I have certainly never raped anyone.”
Burstein, however, insists that what she uncovered during her three months in Belize raises plenty of questions about the eccentric tech guru, who was never charged or prosecuted for the murder of his neighbor.
“He’s incredibly smart and charismatic, but at the same time he obviously likes to bend the rules and often talks about how he pushes the limits,” Burstein tells PEOPLE. “When he went to Belize I think he thought he could bend the rules quite a bit.”
McAfee’s time in Belize reads like a modern day twist on Joseph Conrad’s seminal novel
Heart of Darkness
. During his three years in Belize, a country with one of the highest murder rates in the world, his life appears to have slowly spun out of control.
“He was often surrounded by up to 20 bodyguards, many of whom had been incarcerated, and were armed with double-barreled shotguns,” Burstein says.
Over the course of her film, she chronicles the accounts of many of McAfee’s friends, bodyguards, business associates and young girlfriends as they describe his increasingly paranoid, violent behavior. One portion of the film details how he allegedly had several thugs hired to torture a local man – believed to have broken into his house – who later died from the beating he allegedly received.
Want to keep up with the latest crime coverage? Click here to get breaking crime news, ongoing trial coverage and details of intriguing unsolved cases in the True Crime Newsletter.
The film also explores the allegations of the Harvard-educated microbiologist Allison Adonizio, who alleges she was drugged and raped after informing McAfee that she wanted out of their business venture. “She fled the country immediately afterwards and reported what happened to the FBI,” says Burstein. “But unfortunately the FBI doesn’t have jurisdiction in Belize.”
Burstein also pieces together the story behind the unsolved November 2012 killing of Greg Faull, McAfee’s expat neighbor who he allegedly suspected had poisoned his dogs. Days after the death of McAfee’s pets, Faull was found dead from a gunshot to the back of his head.
“He’s a dangerous man,” says Burstein. “He was named a person of interest in the murder, but he went on the run immediately afterwards.”
As the release date for Gringo approached, McAfee went on the defensive, insisting that Burstein’s film “is all nonsense,” adding that the people she interviewed were paid to make sensational claims about him.
“That’s absurd,” counters Burstein. “I don’t pay people for interviews.”
On Sept. 23, one day before the documentary aired, McAfee published a
to the film to the website Medium, complete with videos of Burstein’s interview subjects who appear to be backtracking on their claims against McAfee.
In his rebuttal, McAfee also includes the copy of a Western Union money order for $ 1,500 that he claims was paid to Edward McKoy, one of his former employees, who appears throughout the documentary making allegations of McAfee’s misdeeds.
When asked about the transaction, a publicist for the film maintained that the money in question was used to purchase pictures, not to buy his testimony. “Nanette did use some of the photos provided by Eddie in the film for which she paid a nominal fee, which is common practice for documentary films,” the publicist tells PEOPLE.
McAfee goes on to insist that Adonizio’s claims against him were in retaliation for him firing her because she was “more interested in partying than in doing actual work.”
Ultimately, McAfee claims that the documentary is part of a conspiracy against him, allegedly hatched by the government of Belize for his alleged refusal to pay off officials during his time there.
“The whole thing is a setup,” he tells PEOPLE, insisting that he “donated probably $ 15 million” to the country, but didn’t do it through the “proper” channels.
“Don’t ever go to a corrupt country and think you can change things. . . The people love me there. It’s the government that hates me.”
Burstein isn’t surprised by McAfee’s denials, but what she finds truly shocking is his ability to “reinvent” himself since returning to the US in December 2012 after his much-publicized flight from Belize.
“It’s pretty astonishing,” she says. “In the four years since his return he has run for president of United States [he placed second in the Libertarian Party’s presidential primary to Gary Johnson] and become the CEO of a cyber security company.”