John McAfee, founder of the eponymous antivirus company, is being sought by police in Belize for questioning about the murder of American expatriate Gregory Faull. (First reported by Gizmodo yesterday.)
In September of this year, McAfee published a diary in three parts of his recent "adventures" in Belize on a private message board, where he described how his life had been transformed—and according to McAfee, threatened—over the last two years by corruption in government both local and national, as well as his taking on of a personal harem of local women. One woman, "Amber Smith," according to McAfee, was an assassin. He called the story "Darkness Falls."
Here is McAfee's story, in his own words. Names of non-public figures have been changed, and identifying details redacted.
Author's note: This is a tale in three parts, since the telling of it cannot be done in a single sitting. Part One, which you have before you, sets the scene for the story.
The telling of this story in its visual form would not have been possible without the presence of [The Cartoonist] preceding and during the story's climax. He had his camera constantly with him and his photographs chronicled the events and captured the essence of the story's players. [The Cartoonist] has balls of steel, by the way.
This is a tale of intrigue and deception, involving great risks and dangers. Or, perhaps, it is a tale of paranoia in which innocuous events are misinterpreted by an unstable mind.
Someone close to me asked me whether paranoia might have played a part in creating many of the events in this tale. The question sank deep. The events were certainly out of the ordinary, and the apparent motives behind them verged on the unbelievable — indeed, a prime indicator of paranoia. Yet, similar events with similar motives happened to me less than two years ago and involved the same Amber who recently introduced herself to [redacted]. The girl was real, the gun was real and I am still mostly deaf in my left ear as residual indicator that the events actually occurred.
Maybe the paranoia dilemma is caused a cultural disconnect. Many events that are common in Belize are unheard of in America. Widespread, unreported violent crime is one example. Few people want the added involvement of a police force that is largely corrupt and universally brutal in an already brutal and unstable situation. As another example, husbands who have multiple simultaneous families are the norm in Belize, rather than the exception. This gives rise to exemplary methods of prevarication and mendacity. Community lying is certainly one of the oddest examples of cultural differences. For example, no matter how much animosity and hatred exists between the various members of a village community, they will, as one voice, disparage the outsider and they will, without exception, all adhere to whatever deception the consensus deems necessary to keep the outside out of their business. It's a startling and powerful defense mechanism. So secrecy and deceit compose the air that everyone breathes down here. Or maybe this is simply paranoia justifying itself.
But enough of introspection. Let's get on with the story.
Where to begin? We could start with my calling the Prime Minister a liar in the national press a couple of months back. It angered him, certainly, and probably exacerbated my situation, and certainly accelerated his plan to force me out of the country, or failing that, eradicate me. But it seems too late in the play for a beginning. Or we might start with my refusal to assist the Prime Minister's son, Shyne, gain an early release from an American prison in 2009, or my refusal to donate to the P.M.'s political party last year. But the events seem too crude and mundane to be used as an opening for a play that, in spite of the hugely magnified actions, hinged on the subtlest forces.
Or, we could start with my arrival five years ago in Belize that began the slow unwinding of the already fragile veneer of gentility with which I clothed myself.
But this seems too remote and, in the dark recesses of my mind, simply a random event in the cause and effect chain that has no beginning. The story's beginning has to be more recent. I believe it starts about the time that I began living with five and a half women. The lifestyle change was motivated by a need to save time. Running around visiting my various paramours consumed enormous resources and my daily travel time exceeded the average commute from Newark to Manhattan and back.
The five and a half is really seven. But two of the women have committed relationships with men who also live with me. The two women are both my ex-lovers and one of the two still sleeps with me so I count her as a half. The men are both musicians, by pure accident, not by design. The other five women share my bed on a regular basis.
My dearest Amber, who introduced herself to [redacted] a while back, has found a nice Gringo musician named Brandon and has fallen in love. They both prefer to live with me, for obvious practical reasons, and Amber and I are still close.
And Susan, who has been my lover off and on for eleven years, now has Stephen as a live in partner. Stephen is [redacted], and is one of the best musicians I have had the pleasure to know.
The other five women are all Belizean. The first one you have met before. I did a story about Tiffany two and a half years ago which many of you seemed to enjoy. Not long after the story Tiffany and I became lovers and about a year ago she moved in with me. She no longer works at the bar. She is [age redacted] now.
The next is Marly. Marly is Amber's cousin and we have been lovers for a year and a half. She is [age redacted]. Marly lived in the village of [redacted] for most of her life and was raised in abject poverty. She speaks very little English and has the equivalent of a third grade education. She is gentle and charming.
Then There is Jane. Jane hooked up, at the age of 15, with a gentleman named A.P. Leonard, the only other white resident of Orange Walk. A.P. owns a 20 acre Mission Center named La Estima, whose goal is "helping those in need". [Presumably, McAfee is referring to this mission. –Ed.] It is located right across the river from me. His only active program is helping young women in need by sending other young women into the back alleys of Orange Walk to convince wayward girls to come to the center for a tour. A.P. selects those whose need appears the greatest and gives them jobs within the walls. The pay is $25 dollars week and the young women are given a room, of which there are fifty or more, and not allowed to leave the rooms except to work. A.P. visits the young women to offer spiritual guidance late in the evenings. At last report there were about 20 young women in the program. The entire property is encircled by a 14-foot stone wall topped by broken glass. Jane escaped the compound some four months ago with the help of a compromised security guard and found her way to me. Her sister Amanda is still at the compound and has become a willing consort to A.P. Jane is Tiffany's cousin. She is [age redacted].
And there is Betsy. Betsy hunted me down two years ago to complain that one of my dogs had eaten one of her chickens. She weighed 85 pounds and had the attitude and temper of a wolverine. She said: "Just because you're the fucking White Man doesn't mean I have to kiss your fucking ass! I'm not your fucking bitch!" I liked her immediately. Betsy moved in 10 months ago, stayed two months and left, and then moved back in 5 months ago. Things seem more stable between us now.
And then there is Anna, and the beginning of the Story:
Which cannot be told without introducing her co-conspiritor:
Whom everyone called "Amber Two".
Anna showed up about 4 months ago. The notorious Nick, about whom I did a story for [redacted] a couple of years back, introduced her to me. Nick introduced her as his cousin and brought her with him to the Island for a weekend visit. The first night she was here she crept into Jane's room, with whom I was sleeping at the time, and crawled into bed with us. Within a few minutes she simply told Jane to leave, which Jane did. I frequently muse about how the story would have been dramatically different had I been sleeping with Amber One that night. We would all have unpleasant memories of assorted body parts to deal with.
It was Amber One who first raised the alarm about Anna. "There's something not right about her," she kept saying. I passed it off as simple jealousy. I should have listened. Amber One has a long history of successful deception and has a highly refined antenna tuned in to her own people. Her final warning to me was on the morning of that fateful day, which we will get to shortly, where on the way to the critical meeting, she pulls me aside and said: "You're going to get us all killed. Anna is responsible for all of this. I know it for a fact. Do something now before it's too late."
It was, unfortunately, too late.
Tiffany was next. She remarked early on: "I spend more time with her than anyone and I'm telling you – she's up to no good". Tiffany befriended Anna early on. It's a competitive technique she uses to more easily assess her opponent's strengths and weaknesses.
"She's going to cause you serious trouble. I'm just telling you. You need to get rid of her" became Tiffany's mantra. Again, I chalked it up to jealousy. Tiffany keeps track of how many hours a week I spend with everyone and confronts me frequently about my shortchanging herself. She also "noticed" that I sleep closer to Anna than I do to her when we three sleep together:
So jealousy seemed the obvious source of Tiffany's judgments about Anna.
Betsy merely said: "I don't like her". Marly said "She smiles too much".
My misjudgments were monumental. I should have been on point the moment Amber Two arrived. She was the girlfriend of Arthur Young, the notorious Belize City gangster who was shot by the GSU on April 23rd while trying to wrestle a gun away from 6 burly GSU officers while his hands were handcuffed behind his back. [Link from original text.]
Amber Two was on the run when she arrived. She had ratted on Arthur for $100,000 in cash – paid by the GSU. - so the Taylor Street Gang that Arthur ran had placed a $50,000 price on her head. In addition, the rival George Street Gang, run by Pinky Tillett, had put a hit on her because, a week before Arthur's death, Arthur allegedly killed Pinky. [Link from original text.]
Rival gangs here frequently target gang leaders' girlfriends.
In any case, she was in fear of her life, and running to the "White Man" seemed the safest bet. I had had my own run-ins with the GSU and was, so far, the only person in two years to walk away unscathed. I had plenty of guards and plenty of guns and I was rumored to be friendly to the locals. She showed up and asked for sanctuary. When I discovered she was one of the best cooks in Belize I took her in. [The Cartoonist] will, I feel certain, validate my assessment of her cooking. He did, I believe, fall in love just a little bit with Amber Two.
The arrival of Amber Two might have been counted as an extra woman, but, being still of sound mind, I decided that sleeping with Arthur Young's girlfriend, given the fact that she had just recently been released from prison for stabbing a rival girlfriend of Arthur's seven times in the face with hair scissors, might destabilize a complex set of relationships that already included at least one psychopath. Discord is high. Amber One has more than once pulled a knife on Betsy and alternates between love and hate for Tiffany. Betsy has threatened to slash my throat many times and has gotten into knock-down, hair-pulling fights with Jane on two occasions. Tiffany keeps track of everything and uses subtle passive aggressive button pushing to keep us all miserable. Marly has burst into my room with a gun while I was sleeping with Anna and has slapped Jane's face more times than I can count. And Anna, well, she tried very hard to kill all of us. But I'll get to that. Generally discord is quieted by a group trip to the hair salon:
But neither the hair salon, nor it's more powerful ally, the Spa Weekend, could have any affect on the hidden events unfolding just beneath the surface of this happy family.
Nick knew the events because he helped set the trap. He had become my confidant and advisor on cultural matters in this country and I had grown to like him, if not trust him. As the premier flesh peddler in Belize he has a finely tuned eye for the tastes of those around him and it would be natural for him to choose the poison.
And Anna knew because she was tutored and groomed for many weeks before she was introduced to me. She is a sister to the three toughest gangsters in Orange Walk (unknown to me at the time) and has from birth watched untold horrors perpetrated on rival gang members, money launderers and other unfortunates who ran afoul of her brothers. After the plot was uncovered, she told me calmy [sic] about watching her brothers cut off the fingers of a money launderer and how it excited her. She also told me they were planning on using the same technique on me to get me to reveal where my money was hidden.
Amber Two was groomed to meet me as well. As Arthur Young's girlfriend we don't even need to guess at what she had witnessed.
And Eric Swan knew because he had the guns and the "soldiers" that would be used to nab me. [Link from original text.]
And Eric's cousin James knew. But not for long. James was killed two weeks after our meeting which is told about in Part Two.
Simple robbery and murder were the motives of this plot, but in the minds of the perpetrators the gains were expected to be in the millions of dollars - thus the elaborate preparation and the large number of players. But behind these simple motives lay darker secrets, and it is in this realm that questions of paranoia arise.
Why was I singled out? That is the question that most often arises. I believe it is because I am the only full-time Gringo resident of Orange walk and it is believed by the locals that I am be notoriously wealthy. My neighbor, A.P. Leonard, is fond of pointing out that he has lived here for a dozen or more years and has had no problems. In truth, A.P. spends a total about three month per year in Belize – coming for a week each month – and for the duration of his visits he stays locked behind a fourteen-foot stone wall. I lived in Orange Walk for two years before I knew anyone was even home at his compound. I, on the other hand, am here full time and I let it all hang out.
But Part Two will address these issues in detail. It will introduce a local hit-man named Mac-10 – a one time foe and now friend and a critical player in the scene. For the two other members of [redacted] who know him, He was attacked two days ago in Dangriga by a man with a sledgehammer and left for dead. He is in critical condition.
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Tuesday, September 11, 2012 at 5:36:49pm x28
• John McAfee Wanted for Murder
• Secrets, Schemes, and Lots of Guns: Inside John McAfee's Heart of Darkness
Joel Johnson is a science and technology writer living in Brooklyn. He writes regularly on his site, Mote and Beam.