Suicide (non-)watch: What we know about Jeffrey Epstein’s death...and what we don’t
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.Also on rt.com Jeffrey Epstein takes his own life in his prison cell
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/GRnz3ob94fpic.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/FDocDgKcXQpic.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 be kept under “direct, continuous observation,” in a room that allows “unobstructed vision of the inmate at all times.”
I was arrested when I was 18 for skateboardingThey took my shoelaces and belt even though it was a slap on the wrist and I went home within a couple of hours and that was the end of itHow did Epstein manage to hang himself while on suicide watch and being so high profile?— Tim Pool (@Timcast) August 10, 2019
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.
Follow-up on that:Various reports state that Epstein had been removed from suicide watch.If so, BOP guidelines require written justification for such a decision. https://t.co/6u5Lz4e3k9pic.twitter.com/SAO3UKzoGZ— Adam Klasfeld (@KlasfeldReports) August 10, 2019
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.
Photos show Jeffrey Epstein as he's wheeled into Downtown Hospital https://t.co/SICqKfCUNSpic.twitter.com/iPJB6xnPtR— 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
According to a report by a former Al Qaeda prisoner, however, MCC staff monitor high-security cells with two video cameras, one above the shower and another above the toilet or bed. Epstein had been kept in this same extra-security area of the prison, a New York Times source said.
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.
I HAVE A CAMERA IN MY APARTMENT TO WATCH MY DOG SO HE DOESN’T EAT MY SHOESYOU’RE TELLING ME THEY COULDN’T PUT A CAMERA IN JEFFREY EPSTEIN’S CELL SO HE DOESN’T KILL HIMSELF?I CAN’T.— Jules Suzdaltsev (@jules_su) August 10, 2019
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 commenter Michael Coudrey, which was picked up and spread by a suspicious public.
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 had procured young girls for some of the world’s most powerful and wealthiest men, including British prince Andrew, billionaire investor Glenn Dubin, former governor of New Mexico Bill Richardson, and a number of other unnamed foreign political and business figures.Also on rt.com Unsealed court docs detail Clinton, Trump ties to Epstein & his interest in ‘erotic servitude’
As Epstein was the only defendant in the case against him, the trail now goes cold.
However, in a court filing last month, the government said it was pursuing an "ongoing investigation of uncharged individuals" connected to Epstein, and US Attorney Geoffrey Berman confirmed on Saturday that the investigation will continue despite Epstein’s death.
STATEMENT OF MANHATTAN U.S. ATTORNEY ON THE DEATH OF DEFENDANT JEFFREY EPSTEINhttps://t.co/uCLv8aAPaZpic.twitter.com/aQnRn3kjEH— US Attorney SDNY (@SDNYnews) August 10, 2019
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