New York, NY – The Office of the New York City Chief Medical Examiner announced Friday afternoon that billionaire Jeffrey Epstein’s death in custody on Aug. 10 had been officially ruled a suicide.
The statement confirmed the preliminary findings released earlier in the week in an autopsy report that left the cause of Epstein’s death pending, NPR reported.
Epstein was found on his knees, hanging from the bedpost of his bed by a sheet at the Metropolitan Correctional Center (MCC) where he was being held while facing charges for sexually abusing and trafficking children, The Washington Post reported.
Correctional officers found the 66-year-old Tier 3 sex offender hanging in his cell at around 6:30 a.m. on Aug. 10, according to ABC News.
Epstein was transported to New York Downtown Hospital in cardiac arrest before he was declared dead.
The billionaire had been placed on a suicide watch after authorities believed he tried to kill himself on July 23, shortly after he was denied bail, The New York Times reported.
He was taken off suicide watch just six days later and returned to the cell he shared with another prisoner in 9 South, a special housing unit (SHU) inside the MCC.
But his roommate was removed from his cell a short time later.
Despite the fact that it is protocol to put a prisoner who has just been taken off suicide watch in a cell with another prisoner, Epstein didn’t get a new roommate before he allegedly killed himself, The New York Times reported.
Two prison officials have said that the staff members on duty the night Epstein tried to kill himself were supposed to be checking on him every 30 minutes, but had not looked in on him for three hours before he was found hanging.
Officials said that the employees had falsely recorded checks every 30 minutes in the logbook.
Three different officials told The New York Times that both employees had been asleep some, or all, of the three-hour period that preceded them finding Epstein hanging from his upper bunk by a bedsheet.
U.S. Attorney General William Barr said he was “appalled” at the serious “irregularities” in the detention center’s protocol, The Washington Post reported.
On Monday, Barr ordered the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the U.S. Department of Justice’s Inspector General to conduct investigations into Epstein’s death in custody, The New York Times reported.
MCC Warden Lamine N’Diaye was transferred to a Bureau of Prisons office in Philadelphia while the alleged suicide and the circumstances surrounding it are investigated by federal authorities.
New York City Chief Medical Examiner Barbara Sampson completed Epstein’s autopsy on Sunday, The Washington Post reported.
Sources familiar with the findings of the autopsy said the medical examiner found multiple breaks in Epstein’s neck bones.
One of the broken bones was the hyoid, which is more common in victims of homicide by strangulation than in suicide, The Washington Post reported.
Sampson said that no single factor in the autopsy could conclusively prove what happened to the dead billionaire.
“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,” the medical examiner said.
Although Friday’s announcement by Sampson might end the investigation for her office, there is rampant speculation about what happened with numerous pathology experts weighing in on whether the suicide was actually a homicide.
Dr. Cyril Wecht, a respected forensic pathologist, told FOX News that he didn’t think the medical examiner’s determination was correct.
Wecht said that if Epstein was found kneeling, as has been reported, it would have been impossible for him to break both his hyoid bone and also break cervical vertebrae, as is indicated in the autopsy report.
The doctor said that would have been possible to break both if Epstein had hung himself by jumping from the upper bunk, but with kneeling and “leaning into,” he said he doesn’t “buy that” explanation and has never seen it in his career.