With Netflix’s ‘Running with the Devil: The Wild World of John McAfee’ unraveling the downfall of the notorious tech pioneer, we get an intricate glimpse into his real personality, sans any filters. It thus features everything from his complex web of lies to his manipulation techniques and from his personal issues to his substance use, all the while keeping a focus on his years on the lam. But for now, if you wish to learn more about his father in particular — especially the details of his background, their turbulent connection, as well as his untimely demise — we’ve got you covered.
Who Was John McAfee’s Dad?
John McAfee was born to British mother Joan E. Williams and American father Don H. McAfee on a US Army base in Gloucestershire, England, a mere 16 days after World War II came to an end. The latter was actually a 596th Ordnance Ammunition Company soldier stationed there, meaning he most probably actively served in the war before welcoming his son on September 18, 1945. However, since Don was first and foremost a native of Virginia, that’s where the family soon relocated to raise John as well — yet the young McAfee always felt as much British as American.
Don reportedly took up a job as a road surveyor following the return to his home state, but by all accounts, John’s life growing up was not stable, comfortable, or happy in any way, shape, and form. That’s because his father was not only an alcoholic but also abusive towards both him as well as his mother, reportedly resulting in constant fights and beatings within the walls of their home. John hence spent a majority of his early years in fear, struggling to understand why they were subjected to such violent hounding, only for it to cease with Don’s passing when he was 15.
Did John McAfee Kill His Dad?
According to official records, Don Harold McAfee died by suicide around 1960 upon taking a gun to his head and pulling the trigger, which ostensibly further affected John on a deeper level. He once asserted he “was sorrowful over the death of a father who had never shown me a single kindness,” eventually leading him to start drinking heavily and taking hard drugs as well. Nevertheless, while no report contends Don’s suicide and even John’s past interviews imply the same, it’s imperative to note this Netflix original documentary suggests he could’ve slain his father.
As per Alex Cody Foster, a ghostwriter who’d once been hired by the infamous computer programmer/entrepreneur, “[Don] used to beat the sh*t out of his mom, and John was there; he had to watch and he had to listen. All the time as a child growing up, he had to watch his mom get the sh*t kicked out of her.” Furthermore, in a recorded tape, apparently, John himself said, “I do want to change the world. I want my children and grandchildren and your children to have a better world than we had.”
John continued, “[A world] where we do have some love. And there is some humanity that the world that I lived in [lacked] — growing up with a father who broke my arms and abused me to the point it was intolerable. Abused my mother until the point that I did something about it.” As if this is not enough, Alex then claimed John had even confessed to killing Don to his executive advisor Jimmy, explicitly stating he’d “made it look like a suicide.” The writer said, “[John’s] a dangerous man, he’s hurt a lot of people.”
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