The apparent suicide of convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein immediately spawned allegations of prison negligence and even murder – and no wonder, given the confusing, scarce data available. Here’s what we know.
It’s been confirmed that Epstein was found dead in his cell in the special housing unit of New York’s Metropolitan Correctional Center on Saturday morning at around 6:30am EST.
Lifesaving measures were “initiated immediately by responding staff,” and Epstein was transported to hospital, where he was pronounced dead, the Bureau of Prisons said on Saturday. The Bureau called his death an “apparent suicide,”althought an investigation has yet to determine this conclusively.
A number of officials told media outlets that Epstein had hanged himself in his cell, but no one, at the time of writing, has confirmed this publicly.
If Epstein’s death is still under investigation, and no one can explain yet how he killed himself, why is mainstream media reporting it definitively as a suicide? Even the FBI is calling it an “apparent suicide.” https://t.co/GRnz3ob94f pic.twitter.com/BHDF3tAShs
— Max Blumenthal (@MaxBlumenthal) August 10, 2019
An FBI investigation has also been opened, and Attorney General William Barr later announced a Justice Department probe into Epstein’s death, which he also called an “apparent suicide.”
JUST IN: Attorney General Bill Barr on Jeffrey Epstein: “I was appalled to learn that Jeffrey Epstein was found dead early this morning from an apparent suicide while in federal custody. Mr. Epstein’s death raises serious questions that must be answered.” https://t.co/FDocDgKcXQ pic.twitter.com/j4uisPpCgJ
— ABC News (@ABC) August 10, 2019
The 66-year-old, a convicted pedophile, had been held at the New York prison since his arrest last month on child sex trafficking and conspiracy charges. He pled not guilty to the charges, which carried a penalty of up to 45 years in prison.
Was he on suicide watch?
At the time of his death, Epstein was rumored to have been on suicide watch. According to Bureau of Prisons policy, inmates on suicide watch are to kept under “direct, continuous observation,” in a room that allows “unobstructed vision of the inmate at all times.”
Epstein was supposedly kept under this supervision after he was found semi-conscious on the floor of his cell two weeks ago, with marks on his neck. Speculation in the media immediately turned to how a man on suicide watch could have possibly killed himself. According to BOP policy, in addition to the constant monitoring, a suicidal inmate’s cell “may not have fixtures or architectural features” that would enable self-harm, such as hooks or bunks that could be used to tie a rope around.
However, one source told Reuters that Epstein had been taken off suicide watch some time since his first apparent attempt on his own life. Photos published by the New York Post lend some credence to this report, as they show Epstein’s body being wheeled into hospital on a gurney, clad in the standard-issue prison jumpsuit, instead of the paper dress or ‘suicide smock’ usually given to these inmates.
— New York Post (@nypost) August 10, 2019
Regardless, inmates at MCC are said to be checked in on every 30 minutes throughout the night. When guards are away on their patrols, video surveillance usually picks up the slack. However, BOP policy does not mandate video surveillance of either suicide watch or regular cells.
There should be footage of Epstein killing himself, right?
— Cassandra Fairbanks (@CassandraRules) August 10, 2019
Additionally, a BOP audit last year found that cameras are “placed strategically throughout the institution,” and are “sufficient” to ensure the safety of inmates and staff.
Rumors circulated on Saturday that the cameras supposedly monitoring Epstein had mysteriously “malfunctioned” at the time of his death, adding fuel to the theories of foul play already circulating. However, these rumors can be traced back to an unsubstantiated tweet by right wing commentator Michael Coudrey, which was picked up and spread by a suspicious public.
BREAKING: Alleged “camera malfunction” last night at MCC where Jeffrey Epstein was locked up.#EpsteinFiles
— Michael Coudrey (@MichaelCoudrey) August 10, 2019
Though it may still emerge that there was a “camera malfunction” overnight, that claim has not yet been verified.
What happens next?
Pending further investigation, rumors will likely continue to circulate. Epstein’s death came at a suspicious time, occurring just one day after court documents were unsealed alleging that Epstein procured young girls for some of the world’s most powerful and wealthiest men, including British Prince Andrew, billionaire investor Glenn Dubin, former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, and a number of other unnamed foreign political and business figures.
This story was first published in RT