New York City’s chief coroner is confident that billionaire and convicted paedophile Jeffrey Epstein hanged himself, The New York Times reports. Chief medical examiner Dr Barbara Sampson has publicly stated that an autopsy was performed on Sunday with a private pathologist observing on behalf of the financier’s representatives, which is said to be “routine practice”.
According to her, determining the cause of death “is pending further information at this time”.
The New York Times cites a source saying that Epstein was found hanging by his neck in the cell. The insider points out that the financier, awaiting trial on underage sex trafficking charges, was not on suicide watch in the Special Housing Unit of the Metropolitan Correctional Centre (MCC), where he was confined.
The well-connected businessman was reportedly placed on suicide watch in July after he was found with bruising on his neck in his cell. However, according to media reports, he was taken off additional monitoring on 29 July after he was deemed to be "no longer at imminent risk for suicide". At the same time, the Daily Mail cited a source, claiming that Epstein told guards and fellow inmates that he believed someone had tried to kill him.
Violation of Jail Protocol Reported
As an official with knowledge of the investigation said to AP, the Justice Department was told the disgraced financier would be monitored by a guard every half-hour and would be housed with a cellmate. However, as officials told The New York Times, the cellmate had recently been transferred, allowing Epstein to be housed alone, a violation of jail protocol.
The outlet also says that checks were not performed every 30 minutes or the night before Epstein’s death. A source familiar with the matter told AP that the Metropolitan Correctional Centre’s Special Housing Unit was staffed by a single guard working a fifth straight day of overtime and another who was working mandatory overtime.
Jeffrey Epstein’s Death
Jeffrey Epstein was found unresponsive in his jail cell on Friday night and was transported to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead. The Bureau of Prisons called his death an “apparent suicide”, although an investigation has yet to determine this conclusively. US Attorney General William Barr has ordered both the FBI and the Inspector General to open a probe into the circumstances of his death.
Epstein's death comes a week after he was denied bail on federal sex trafficking charges and three weeks after he was found unconscious on the floor of his prison cell with marks on his neck.
The 66-year-old, who was arrested on 6 July, was pending trial next year over multiple allegations of sexually abusing and trafficking underage girls in the early 2000s in his New York mansion and Florida estate. He pleaded not guilty. Epstein, who served 13 months in jail on prostitution-related charges involving underage girls in 2008, faced up to 45 years in prison if convicted.