Jeffrey Epstein’s apparent suicide in a New York City jail cell has left federal investigators with more questions than answers about how the accused child sex trafficker managed to seemingly escape facing justice one final time.
The federal Bureau of Prisons has attempted to understand in recent days how Epstein managed to take his own life at the Metropolitan Correctional Centre, despite guards being assigned to check his cell every 30 minutes.
Officials are also working to learn why Epstein’s cellmate was moved out of their cell the day before the disgraced financier was found unresponsive on Saturday morning and later pronounced dead.
Attorney General William Barr has described “serious irregularities” at the prison where Epstein was held and reports have suggested the guards watching over him fell asleep for about three hours at the time of his death.
But the Justice Department has not released additional details about the missteps that led to his death before he was set to stand trial over new trafficking and conspiracy charges. The department’s Inspector General has launched an investigation into the death, along with the FBI.
The lack of details has led to an emergence of unfounded conspiracy theories alleging Epstein was killed by the “deep state,” or that the multi-millionaire fled to a secretive island and was replaced by a body-double.
Those claims were given a megaphone by the White House when Donald Trump retweeted posts on Twitter suggesting there was a link between Epstein’s death and Bill Clinton.
Still, investigators remained focused on discovering the most rudimentary facts surrounding his apparent suicide, CNN reported on Friday.
That includes a question of whether a prison staff member first found Epstein unresponsive while delivering breakfast to the prisoners, or if someone was already providing aid when he was discovered.
The Bureau also wants to know whether the guards documented their checks during the time of Epstein’s death, the outlet reported, and whether there is surveillance footage from inside the jail that matches those logs.
There are other confounding factors to Epstein’s death that may add fuel to the fire of conspiracy theories that has already been stoked by the president, including that his cellmate was moved out of their shared space a day before his death.
He had also reportedly been found unresponsive weeks earlier after an apparent suicide attempt and was placed on suicide watch.
The New York Medical Examiner's Office has not yet released its comprehensive autopsy results, and did not return requests for comment.
However, Epstein was no longer on suicide watch at the time of his death, according to officials. The Bureau reportedly believed he had faked the initial suicide attempt.
Members of Congress have requested details into the Justice Department’s handling of Epstein’s death and provided the department with a deadline of next week.