Death of Jeffrey Epstein
On August 10, 2019, American financier and convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein was found dead as a result of hanging in the Metropolitan Correctional Center, where he was awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges. He was pronounced dead shortly after being taken to hospital.
Due to Epstein's removal from a suicide watch, violations of standard prison procedures, and Epstein's knowledge of compromising information about famous people, his death spawned conspiracy theories.
Arrest and imprisonment
Jeffrey Epstein was arrested in New York on July 6, 2019 on multiple charges including sex trafficking; he pleaded not guilty. He had earlier faced similar charges in Florida in 2008, but escaped federal charges in a plea deal. Under the plea deal he pleaded guilty to two state felony charges, paid restitution to three dozen victims identified by the FBI, and registered as a sex offender in both the state of Florida and the state of New York. On July 18, 2019 Epstein was denied bail after offering US$600,000 to be able to wear an ankle tracker at his New York City townhouse. He was viewed as a potential flight risk due to his 20 international flights in the prior 18 months.
Epstein was found semiconscious in his cell with injuries to his neck on July 23. His cellmate, multiple murder and drug conspiracy suspect Nicholas Tartaglione, was questioned but denied harming Epstein. An internal prison investigation reportedly cleared Tartaglione in connection with the event. As a result of the incident, Epstein was placed on suicide watch. He was placed in an observation cell, surrounded by windows, where lights were left on and any devices that could be used by the prisoner to take his own life were not permitted to be retained. Epstein was removed from suicide watch after six days following a psychiatric examination. Epstein was then moved to a special housing unit, where he was supposed to have a cellmate and be checked up on every 30 minutes.
On August 8, Jeffrey Epstein signed his last will and testament. The signing of the will was witnessed by two attorneys that knew him. The will named two longtime employees as executors, and immediately gifted all of his assets, and any assets remaining in his estate, to a trust.
Epstein was found unresponsive in cardiac arrest in his cell around 6:30 AM on August 10, 2019, in what was initially reported as an apparent suicide. He was rushed to the hospital where he was pronounced dead. The news of the death was posted on 4chan about 38 minutes before ABC News broke the news. If it was posted by a first responder, as it seems to have been, it would likely be a violation of privacy law, but the poster is so far unidentified, and the "review" is ongoing.
An autopsy on Epstein's body was conducted on August 11 by New York City's Chief Medical Examiner Barbara Sampson. Epstein's lawyers sent pathologist Michael Baden to personally observe the city's autopsy. Following the autopsy, the medical examiner's office reported that Epstein had hanged himself with a sheet from his bed. On August 14, unofficial sources reported that broken bones were found in Epstein's neck; this can occur in the suicide of the elderly. They are said to be "more common in victims of homicide by strangulation", though multiple studies have found different percentages for both manners of death. Epstein's lawyers released a joint statement following the report of the medical examiner, expressing that they are not satisfied and challenging the conclusions and that a more complete response was forthcoming. They also indicated that the defense team fully intends to continue its own independent and complete investigation into the circumstances and cause of their client's death.
U.S. President Donald Trump responded to Epstein's death by retweeting a conspiracy theory linking his death to Bill and Hillary Clinton. Angel Ureña, a spokesperson for the Clintons tweeted: "Ridiculous, and of course not true—and Donald Trump knows it. Has he triggered the 25th Amendment yet?" White House counselor Kellyanne Conway defended Trump's retweet, saying on "Fox News Sunday" that he "wants everything to be investigated". CNN host Jake Tapper later criticized Trump for the retweet, saying "The state of our union is appalled" that Trump had used his "massive Twitter platform to spread a deranged conspiracy theory."
Attorney General William Barr said he was "appalled" by Epstein's death while in federal custody and that it "raises serious questions that must be answered." He ordered an investigation by the Justice Department's Inspector General in addition to the FBI investigation.. Senator Ben Sasse, chairman of the United States Senate Judiciary oversight subcommittee, later wrote a letter to Barr saying "The Department of Justice failed." He added "Given Epstein's previous attempted suicide, he should have been locked in a padded room under unbroken, 24/7, constant surveillance. Obviously, heads must roll."
Rep. Matt Gaetz, who sits on the United States House Judiciary Committee, called on chairman Rep. Jerry Nadler to prioritize investigating the circumstances around Epstein's death over other probes being carried out by the committee. Rep. Lois Frankel called for a congressional investigation into the 2008 plea deal for Epstein. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand called for a "full investigation" into Epstein's death, saying on CBS News' "Face the Nation, "These survivors deserved justice, they deserved a day in court, they deserved to speak out against this perpetrator, and it is a shame. I do think there needs to be a full investigation about why he was taken off the suicide watch list; I think it's a strange decision, given that he attempted suicide once already." Florida Senator Rick Scott said Epstein's death had robbed his victims of an "opportunity for justice. The Federal Bureau of Prisons must provide answers on what systemic failures of the MCC Manhattan or criminal acts allowed this coward to deny justice to his victims." Attorney Lisa Bloom wrote: "On behalf of the victims I represent, we would have preferred he lived to face justice. Our civil cases can still proceed against his estate. Victims deserve to be made whole for the lifelong damage he caused. We're just getting started."
"For them to pull him off suicide watch is shocking," Cameron Lindsay, a former warden with experience working at three federal facilities, told NBC News. "For someone this high-profile, with these allegations and this many victims, who has had a suicide attempt in the last few weeks, you can take absolutely no chances. You leave him on suicide watch until he's out of there." Federal prosecutors in the case called Epstein's death "disturbing" and emphasized that they would continue to seek justice for his accusers even after the financier's death. Geoffrey Berman, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, said in a statement, "To those brave young women who have already come forward and to the many others who have yet to do so, let me reiterate that we remain committed to standing for you, and our investigation of the conduct charged in the indictment – which included a conspiracy count – remains ongoing."
On August 12, 2019, the leaders of the House Judiciary Committee, Chairman Jerry Nadler and ranking member Doug Collins, sent 23 questions to the Federal Bureau of Prisons about Epstein's death. "The apparent suicide of this high-profile and—if allegations are proven to be accurate—particularly reprehensible individual while in the federal government's custody demonstrates severe miscarriages of or deficiencies in inmate protocol and has allowed the deceased to ultimately evade facing justice," they wrote. "Any victims of Mr. Epstein's actions will forever be denied proper recourse and the scintilla of recompense our justice system can provide in the face of such alleged atrocities; the competency and rigor of our criminal justice system has been marred by this apparent oversight."
On August 16, 2019, Barbara Sampson, the New York City Medical Examiner, announced that Epstein's death had been ruled a suicide by hanging. Conflicting reports stated that the injuries Epstein sustained were as consistent, if not more, with strangulation or homicide as with suicide. However, Sampson's report found that there was no foul play in Epstein's death. Three of Epstein's lawyers expressed their dissatisfaction with Sampson's conclusion of suicide, having hired renowned forensic pathologist Dr. Michael Baden to observe the autopsy, and reported that they would be initiating their own investigation and will be providing a more detailed statement in the coming time. Baden observed Sampson's autopsy when it was conducted; upon being contacted for comment indicated that he unable to comment due to gag orders filed by not only Sampson's office but Epstein's estate, as well.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation subsequently launched an investigation of the circumstances surrounding Epstein's death, with Attorney General Barr saying that Justice Department officials will thoroughly investigate "serious irregularities" at the Metropolitan Correctional Center (MCC) where Epstein was found dead from suicide. Barr also warned that any of Epstein's alleged co-conspirators "should not rest easy," noting that federal prosecutors will continue to aggressively pursue the case to ensure anyone who worked alongside Epstein will be held accountable. "We are now learning of serious irregularities at this facility that are deeply concerning and demand a thorough investigation," Barr said during remarks at a law enforcement conference in New Orleans. "The FBI and the Office of Inspector General are doing just that." Barr said he was "appalled" and "angry" by the developments; he insisted that the Justice Department would "get to the bottom" of what happened and promised accountability. "Let me assure you this case will continue on against anyone who was complicit with Epstein," Barr said. "Any co-conspirators should not rest easy. The victims deserve justice and they will get it." On August 12, 2019, federal agents searched Epstein's home on his private island, Little Saint James.
On August 14, Manhattan federal court judge Richard Berman, who was overseeing Epstein's criminal case, wrote to the Metropolitan Correctional Centre warden Lamine N'Diaye inquiring as to whether an investigation into the millionaire's apparent suicide would include a probe into his prior (July 23) injuries. Judge Berman wrote that to his knowledge it has never been definitely explained what they concluded about the incident.
Two French Cabinet officials Marlène Schiappa and Adrien Taquet subsequently called for an investigation into the "many unanswered questions" about Epstein's ties to France, calling for the French government to launch its own probe. "The US investigation has highlighted links with France," Schiappa and Taquet said in the statement, according to ABC. "It thus seems to us fundamental for the victims that an investigation be opened in France so that all is brought to light." "The elements received at the Paris prosecutor's office are being analyzed and cross-referenced," a spokesperson for the office told ABC News. "The first audits are currently underway to determine whether an investigation should be opened in France."
On August 13, 2019, the New York City Fire Department said it reviewed a 4chan post purporting to be from a first responder detailing Epstein's death more than 30 minutes before it was made public, BuzzFeed News reported. "The FDNY reviewed the alleged information and determined it did not come from the Department," FDNY spokesman Frank Dwyer told The Hill on Tuesday. Dwyer emphasized that "at no time was there an investigation" into the information and called BuzzFeed's initial story "inaccurate." BuzzFeed subsequently issued a correction noting that the department conducted a "review" instead of a more formal "investigation" into the information.
That same day, Attorney General Barr ordered the Bureau of Prisons to temporarily reassign the warden of the Metropolitan Correctional Center, Shirley Skipper-Scott, to the bureau's Northeast Regional Office while the FBI and Justice Department inspector general investigate the circumstances surrounding Epstein's death. Two staff members assigned to Epstein's unit have also been placed on administrative leave, Justice Department spokeswoman Kerri Kupec said. James Petrucci has been named acting warden of the MCC, the Justice Department added. "The Bureau of Prisons also placed on administrative leave two MCC staff assigned to Mr. Epstein's unit pending the outcome of the investigations. Additional actions may be taken as the circumstances warrant," Kupec said.
Later that same day, Nebraska senator Ben Sasse urged Attorney General Barr to "rip up" a 2008 nonprosecution deal for Epstein, arguing that the Justice Department must bring his co-conspirators to justice in the wake of his death. "The victims of Epstein's international sex trafficking ring deserve justice," Sasse, who is the chairman of the Senate Judiciary oversight subcommittee, wrote in a letter to Barr. "In order to bring Epstein's co-conspirators to justice, the Department of Justice should rip up the non-prosecution, non-investigation agreement entered into by Epstein and the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Florida in 2008," he continued. "This agreement should shock the conscience of anyone familiar with its details," Sasse said in the letter. "This crooked deal cannot stand." Steve Gomez, a former FBI special agent, said the Justice Department must publicly air the findings of the investigation. "The optics of what happened with Epstein will need to be addressed," Gomez said. "Those conspiracy theories are going to have to be addressed, and so, because of that, I believe the public will get some information on what happened as opposed to a low-profile person who is in jail and committed suicide." "Barr is so high up the food chain that it's very unrealistic to expect him to be down in the weeds of procedures that just should be standard with regards to a suspect like this who is in custody," he said.
Before Epstein's death, several people publicly predicted that he would die while being held in prison. In a July 27, 2019 "Ask Me Anything" interview on Reddit's Chapo Trap House subreddit, progressive political activist and author Bob Fitrakis—a longtime investigator into Epstein and his ties to businessman Les Wexner—stated that he thought it was "likely" that Epstein would be "killed in prison".
Spencer Kuvin, a lawyer who represented three alleged victims of Epstein, stated in a July 2019 interview with the British tabloid newspaper The Sun following Epstein's first apparent suicide attempt, that he believed it was an attack on his life, and stated there was a high probability that he would be murdered in prison. Kuvin suggested that powerful people wanted Epstein killed.
On the day of Epstein's death, Jimmy Dore, while hosting an episode of The Jimmy Dore Show, suggested that Epstein's death was "totally foreseeable and preventable", noting that he was previously quoted as saying: "And Hilary Clinton ... tweeted out that she feels really bad about Jeffrey Epstein committing suicide next Tuesday."
Due to Epstein's removal from an earlier suicide watch, violations of standard prison procedures, and Epstein's knowledge of compromising information about famous people, his death spawned multiple conspiracy theories. A Rasmussen poll conducted in August 2019 found that only 29% of American adults believe Epstein actually committed suicide, while 42% think he was murdered to prevent him from testifying against powerful people with whom he associated, and 29% of people were undecided.
Because of his connections to many wealthy and powerful people, there was speculation that some co-conspirator or participant in his sex crimes might have arranged for him to be silenced. In the hours after the death, the hashtags #ClintonBodyCount and #TrumpBodyCount were trending on Twitter as users accused Bill and Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump of being involved in Epstein's death. Several hours after Epstein was found dead, Trump retweeted a conspiracy theory suggesting that there was a connection between the Clintons and Epstein's death—furthering a perennial conspiracy theory dating to the early 1990s that the Clintons have had numerous people killed to silence them. The retweet was immediately showcased worldwide.
Cable news host Joe Scarborough implied that Russians killed Epstein to protect Trump. He commented, "A guy who had information that would have destroyed rich and powerful men's lives ends up dead in his jail cell. How predictably... Russian." Scarborough later said his comment was "glib".
Director of admissions at Jackson Institute for Global Affairs and CNN commentator Asha Rangappa suggested, inferring from the publicly available evidence, that Epstein might have been able to bribe guards to "look the other way", thus allowing him to commit suicide.
Mark Foster of the rock band Foster The People theorized that Epstein is still alive, and that the government (particularly Barr) was behind false death reports and photographs of a different corpse. He guessed Epstein was headed to the Middle East for plastic surgery and used the hashtag #EpsteinBodyDouble.
Florida Senator Marco Rubio alleged that Russian bots were spreading Epstein conspiracy theories to create their own narrative and divide Americans. A spokesperson for Virginia Senator Mark Warner claimed that spreading conspiracy theories was "doing Russia's dirty work for them."
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Bob Fitrakis, a Columbus-based investigative journalist who has written extensively on Wexner and his finances. 'Epstein cleaned everything up, as well as serving Wexner in other capacities—such as facilitating visits to Wexner's home of the crew from Cats and organizing a Tony Randall song-and-dance show put on in Columbus.' Wexner declines to talk about his relationship with Epstein, but it is clearly one that continues to this day. Not that it helped Epstein in any way to land Clinton. Wexner is a staunch Republican donor, and Epstein, aside from a small contribution to the president's legal-defense fund, has given more to the likes of former senator Al D'Amato.
- Fitrakis, Bob (July 27, 2019). "This is Bob Fitrakis, here to answer your questions about the Epstein-Wexner connection to the intelligence community and organized crime!". Reddit. Retrieved August 11, 2019.
It's likely he'll be killed in prison and I think they'll limit the things he's able to say at trial, just like Manuel Noriega.
- Fitrakis, Bob (July 27, 2019). "AMA | This is Bob Fitrakis, here to answer your questions about the Epstein-Wexner connection to the intelligence community and organized crime!". Reddit. Retrieved August 11, 2019.
I think he's more likely to be killed so then he can't talk. He's in the same position as the D.C. madam.
- Ramadan, Lulu (August 10, 2019). "Jeffrey Epstein: 'He could buy anything, including his own death'". The Palm Beach Post. Retrieved August 11, 2019.
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- Agour, Ahmed. "Americans on Left and Right Do Not Accept Epstein's "Suicide"". 7DNews. Retrieved 22 August 2019.
- Jimmy Dore's Joke Predicted Jeffery Epstein's Suicide, The Jimmy Dore Show, August 10, 2019 (published on YouTube)
Same video clip replayed here:
Dumbest Jeffery Epstein Coverage On Corporate News, The Jimmy Dore Show (posted to YouTube on Aug 17, 2019)
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