Jeffrey Epstein, the financier and convicted pedophile who mixed with the rich and famous of the world, died overnight in an apparent suicide, law enforcement sources told the New York Post Saturday.
Epstein hanged himself and his body was found at roughly 7:30 a.m. Saturday at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan. A call for a reported cardiac arrest came in at 6:38 a.m., New York Fire Department sources said. The Department of Justice said Epstein was pronounced dead at the hospital. The FBI is investigating his death.
Two weeks ago, Epstein, 66, was placed on suicide watch after he was found nearly unconscious in his cell with injuries to his neck. Epstein, 66, was in his federal jail cell in downtown Manhattan but was not on suicide watch at the time of his death.
Department of Justice spokesman Lee Plourde told the New York Post that Epstein, 66, was not “currently” on watch in his cell at the Manhattan Correctional Facility while he awaited trial on child sex-trafficking charges.
Plourde refused to say whether that meant Epstein had been taken off additional monitoring or whether he had never been getting special attention to make sure he did not kill himself. “I’m not going to discuss his previous medical status,” he said.
Epstein had reportedly been placed on suicide watch after he was found nearly unconscious in his cell on July 23. There was some question about whether the incident was a suicide attempt or an assault, and investigators noted that the marks on his neck were “more consistent with being choked than hanging yourself,” one source told the Post.
The multimillionaire financier was being held without bail pending trial on child sex-trafficking charges.
On July 6 New York federal prosecutors charged Epstein, 66, with sex trafficking of girls as young as 14 in his Upper East Side, Manhattan town house and his waterfront mansion in Palm, Beach, Florida, between 2002 and 2005. He pleaded not guilty and faced up to 45 years in prison.
The indictment renewed questions about how Epstein had escaped a stiffer sentence in an earlier investigation into his abuse of girls more than a decade ago in Florida.
He had avoided federal criminal charges in 2008 after prosecutors brokered a widely criticized deal that allowed him to plea to state charges of solicitation of prostitution from a minor and serve 13 months in jail. Even while in custody, Epstein was allowed to leave the jail for 12 hours a day, six days a week, to work at his office in Florida.
Thousands of documents unsealed by a court on Friday in connection with a defamation case against Epstein’s alleged recruiter of the girls revealed dozens of high-profile names that a self-identified victim, Virginia Giuffre, said she was forced to perform sex acts with, from former Maine Sen. George Mitchell and ex-New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, money manager Glenn Dubin and MIT professor Marvin Minksy.
The new federal indictment also focused scrutiny on Epstein’s friends and contacts in government, politics, business, academia, science and fashion with whom Epstein had associated over the years, including President Trump, former president Bill Clinton, Prince Andrew of Britain and the retail billionaire Leslie Wexner who owns the Victoria’s Secret lingerie store chain.
Epstein’s defense lawyers Reid Weingarten, Marty Weinberg and Michael Miller said in a statement that they could not confirm his cause of death and hoped it would be investigated by the U.S. Attorney’s office and the United States Marshals Service.
Attorney General Bill Barr said Saturday that he is “appalled” by Jeffrey Epstein’s death, and has consulted with the Inspector General about an investigation after Epstein hanged himself and was found in his jail cell early on Saturday.
“Mr. Epstein’s death raises serious questions that must be answered. In addition to the FBI’s investigation, I have consulted with the Inspector General who is opening an investigation into the circumstances of Mr. Epstein’s death,” Barr said.
The U.S. Bureau of Prisons confirmed in a statement Saturday that the FBI would investigate the suicide of the financier. There is nothing at this point to suggest foul play, a senior law enforcement official said.
The FBI normally does not investigate suicides at federal prison facility, but officials said that given the nature of Epstein’s case, an “abundance of caution” would be taken.
Political leaders are demanding a full accounting of how disgraced financier and accused pedophile Jeffrey Epstein died by apparent suicide in a Manhattan jail early Saturday.
“The death of Jeffrey Epstein does not end the need for justice for his victims or the right of the public to know why a prolific child molester got a slap on the wrist instead of a long prison sentence,” said Democratic Rep. Lois Frankel, whose Florida district is home to the oceanfront Palm Beach mansion where Epstein is said to have sexually abused dozens of underage girls.
Frankel encouraged the House Oversight Committee to “begin its investigation immediately” into a 2008 plea agreement that allowed Epstein to avoid federal sex trafficking charges. The deal was overseen by then-U.S. Attorney Alex Acosta, who served as Labor secretary for the Trump administration until his resignation last month.