Autopsy says Jeffrey Epstein hanging was a suicide. Will that stop conspiracy theories?

Daniel Chang

The New York City medical examiner’s office has ruled that Jeffrey Epstein’s death was a suicide by hanging.

The official statement Friday wasted few words, and it was far from clear that it would calm the storm of conspiracy theories swirling around the multimillionaire’s death.

In a statement attributed to Chief Medical Examiner Barbara Sampson, the office stated: “After careful review of all investigative information, including complete autopsy findings, the determination on the death of Jeffrey Epstein is below—”

That was followed by:

Cause: Hanging

Manner: Suicide

The statement was conveyed by Aja Worthy-Davis, a spokeswoman for the medical examiner’s office.

Previous published reports, based on leaks, had indicated that various bones in Epstein’s neck were broken, including one near the Adam’s apple called the hyoid bone.

Though damage to that particular bone is more common in cases of strangulation, medical experts said the bone is more easily damaged in older people such as Epstein, who was 66.

Epstein was found dead in his cell at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan on Aug. 10, one day after a federal court unsealed nearly 2,000 pages of Epstein-related documents that offered sordid details of the alleged trafficking of girls by the financier and his ex-girlfriend and purported madam, British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell.

The documents alleged a pyramid-like scheme that ran over a number of years in the early- to mid-2000s, with girls as young as 14 being lured to his various estates by recruiters who scouted malls and parties. Although the girls were told they would give a man a massage in exchange for $200 or $300, the massages often turned into sexual assaults, the girls said.

Some girls were paid to recruit other girls. Police in Palm Beach, where he owned a palatial home, built a case against Epstein more than 10 years ago only to have the U.S. attorney for Southern Florida, Alexander Acosta, agree to shelve a 53-page federal indictment. Epstein pleaded to minor charges in state court and served a short stint in jail. After the Miami Herald published a series in November, Perversion of Justice, calling attention to the leniency and secrecy behind the deal, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York took a fresh look at the case, resulting in Epstein’s arrest last month. He was awaiting trial in New York, where he maintained another huge home, when he died.

In the wake of the suicide finding, social media remained abuzz with speculation that foul play was involved, in part because of Epstein’s many friendships with important social, business and political figures and what, if anything, he might divulge.

The Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan is where Jeffrey Epstein was found dead on Aug. 10.

Earlier in the week, President Donald Trump seemingly fueled that speculation when he retweeted suggestions that the Clintons might have had a hand in the death.

Epstein, who also had homes in Paris and New Mexico and a hideaway on his private island in the Virgin Islands, was friends with both Bill Clinton and Donald Trump over a period of years, although both said they had not associated with him recently.


Epstein was alone in his cell when he was found last Saturday morning. He appeared to have hanged himself by tying a bed sheet to a top bunk bed and falling forward with enough force to break several bones in his neck, The New York Times reported.

In response to Epstein’s death, the Justice Department suspended two jail guards and transferred the warden.

Attorney General William Barr pledged an aggressive investigation into the federally operated jail where Epstein had been held and where he had reportedly tried to take his life weeks earlier.

“We are now learning of serious irregularities at this facility that are deeply concerning and that demand a thorough investigation,” Barr said on Monday in New Orleans while addressing the national conference of the Fraternal Order of Police.