Coroner rules Jeffrey Epstein's death a suicide
A view of the Metropolitan Correctional Center in New York, where financier and accused sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein was found dead on Aug. 10. EFE/EPA/JUSTIN LANE
New York, Aug 16 (efe-epa).- The death of financier and accused sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein inside a US federal detention facility here was a suicide, New York City's chief medical examiner said Friday.
"After careful review of all investigative information, including complete autopsy findings, the determination on the death of Jeffrey Epstein" is that he take his own life by hanging, Dr. Barbara Sampson said.
Early last Saturday, Epstein, 66, was found hanged inside his cell at the Metropolitan Correctional Center (MCC) in Manhattan, where the multi-millionaire hedge fund manager had been held since his July 6 arrest.
Though physicians performed an autopsy the following day, Sampson said her office needed more data before reaching a definite conclusion of the cause and manner of Epstein's death.
When information emerged during the course of the week that Epstein had a broken hyoid bone, an injury more commonly associated with manual strangulation than with hanging, Sampson cautioned against leaping to conclusions.
"In all forensic investigations, all information must be synthesized to determine the cause and manner of death. Everything must be consistent; no single finding can be evaluated in a vacuum," she said in a statement.
Epstein, who was known for friendships with high-profile figures such as US Presidents Donald Trump and Bill Clinton, Britain's Prince Andrew and Israeli former Prime Minister Ehud Barak, faced up to 45 years if convicted.
The nature of the charges against Epstein and his connections to prominent people have given rise to suspicions about the circumstances of his death and both the Department of Justice and Congress have announced investigations.
Epstein, who pleaded not guilty last month to one count each of sex trafficking and conspiracy to commit sex trafficking, was found unconscious in his cell in Manhattan on July 23 with marks on his neck.
MCC administrators put the prisoner on suicide watch following that incident, but US media outlets reported Monday that the watch was discontinued at the request of Epstein's lawyers.
Authorities disclosed this week that the two guards who were supposed to check on Epstein periodically during the night of Aug. 9-10 fell asleep and then falsified reports to conceal their negligence.
The defendant's death came a day after a New York federal appeals court judge ordered the unsealing of hundreds of pages of court documents containing new details of the sexual abuse allegations.
Those documents were from a 2015 defamation suit that one of Epstein's accusers, Virginia Roberts Giuffre, brought against Ghislaine Maxwell, a longtime female friend of the financier.
Giuffre and others say that Maxwell, the daughter of disgraced British media magnate and politician Robert Maxwell (1923-1991), procured underage girls to be sexually exploited by Epstein and his associates.
The documents unsealed last Friday include accusations that Epstein instructed the then-underage Giuffre to have sex with Prince Andrew, with former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson and with George Mitchell, who led the Democrats in the US Senate from 1989-1995.
All three men denied the allegations.
Epstein first faced charges of sexually exploiting minors more than a decade ago, but that prosecution ended in 2008 with an agreement that saw him serve a 13-month sentence in a jail in Palm Beach County, Florida, after pleading guilty to state charges.
The deal was approved by the-then US attorney in Miami, Alexander Acosta.
Epstein's accusers, who were kept in the dark about the agreement, reacted angrily when they learned the details of the arrangement, thanks mainly to investigative reporting by The Miami Herald.
The decision by the US attorney in New York to revive the case and order the July 6 arrest of Epstein brought renewed attention to the 2008 deal, and the resulting public outrage forced Acosta to resign last month as labor secretary in the Trump administration.
Trump spoke warmly about Epstein in a 2002 New York Magazine profile of the financier.
Subsequently, however, the real estate magnate disclosed a falling out with Epstein and said he had banned him from the Trump-owned Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach.
Bill Clinton has sought to distance himself from Epstein, saying in a statement last month that he had traveled on the financier's private Boeing 727 a total of four times, though information gleaned from the aircraft flight-logs appears to indicate otherwise. EFE