Jeffrey Epstein Died of Suicide by Hanging, Medical Examiner Says

Chris Dolmetsch

(Bloomberg) -- Jeffrey Epstein killed himself, New York City’s chief medical examiner has concluded, rebutting a slew of conspiracy theories that he was murdered.

Epstein’s body was found Saturday in his cell in a federal prison in Manhattan. The medical examiner, Barbara Sampson, conducted an autopsy on Sunday but had held off on issuing a report pending additional information.

Epstein, a fund manager worth hundreds of millions of dollars, was arrested in July, charged with sex trafficking in minors and denied bail as a flight risk and a threat to the community. That the risk he posed to himself appears to have been mismanaged after an earlier apparent suicide attempt is now the subject of intense controversy and multiple investigations.

On July 23, Epstein was found unconscious in his cell, the Metropolitan Correctional Center, with injuries to his neck, and been placed on suicide watch, but then removed from regular observation. At the time of his death, he was alone in his cell. His death came the day after more than 2,000 pages of filings were unsealed, revealing allegations that a host of prominent people were involved in his acts, fueling the conspiracy theories.

Guards on their morning rounds found him about 6:30 a.m. on Saturday, the jail’s warden said. According to the New York Times, which reported the release of the medical examiner’s report earlier Friday, he secured a bedsheet to the top of a set of bunk beds and then dropped toward the floor with enough force to break a number of bones in his neck.

The Justice Department declined to comment on the medical examiner’s report.

“No one should die in jail,” Epstein’s lawyers said in an emailed statement. “The defense team fully intends to conduct its own independent and complete investigation into the circumstances and cause of Mr. Epstein’s death including if necessary legal action to view the pivotal videos -- if they exist as they should.”

The lawyers said they’re not satisfied with the conclusions of the medical examiner and will issue a more complete response later.

The FBI and the Bureau of Prisons are investigating Epstein’s death. The jail’s warden has been transferred, and two of the guards were suspended.

Epstein was accused of molesting teenage girls from 2002 to 2005. In July he pleaded not guilty to charges of sex trafficking in minors and conspiracy and said he had fully complied with the law for more than 14 years. He had pleaded guilty in 2008 to Florida state charges of soliciting prostitution from a minor, in a controversial non-prosecution agreement with the U.S.

Conspiracy theories about possible efforts to silence Epstein erupted on social media, with topics such as #TrumpBodyCount and #ClintonBodyCount trending on Twitter. President Donald Trump himself joined in, retweeting an unsubstantiated claim suggesting that former president Bill Clinton was somehow responsible for Epstein’s death.

Trump, who spent last weekend at his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, also retweeted a post that referred to a claim by Epstein accuser Virginia Giuffre that Clinton visited the private island owned by his one-time donor. A spokesman for Clinton has previously denied the former president ever visited Epstein’s island.

Authorities are reviewing apparent irregularities related to Epstein’s death, including whether the two guards responsible for him slept through checks that they were supposed to conduct every 30 minutes and then falsified records to cover up the lapse, according to a person familiar with the probe.

Investigators are also examining the staffing conditions at the facility. The Bureau of Prisons had been hobbled by a hiring freeze under Trump’s administration, although Attorney General William Barr lifted the freeze in April.

(Updates with comment from Epstein’s lawyers.)

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