Jeffrey Epstein’s prison death has been confirmed a suicide by hanging, the medical examiner’s office said Friday.
Epstein, 66, was found dead in his cell at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in New York City on Aug. 10, touching off outrage and disbelief over how such a high-profile prisoner, known for socializing with powerful people including presidents Donald Trump and Bill Clinton, could have gone unwatched.
The Bureau of Prisons said Epstein had apparently killed himself, but that didn’t squelch conspiracy theories about his death.
Messages seeking comment were left for Epstein’s lawyers. An office telephone number for Dr. Michael Baden, the pathologist hired by Epstein’s representatives to observe the autopsy, rang unanswered.
Epstein, who was charged with sexually abusing numerous underage girls over several years, had been placed on suicide watch last month after he was found on his cell floor on July 23 with bruising on his neck.
But multiple people familiar with operations at the jail say he was taken off the watch after about a week and put back in a high-security housing unit where he was less closely monitored, but still supposed to be checked on every 30 minutes.
Attorney General William Barr says officials have uncovered “serious irregularities” at the jail. The FBI and the Justice Department’s inspector general are both investigating Epstein’s death.
Meanwhile, Epstein’s former cellmate was cleared of wrongdoing in an incident that left the disgraced financier semicoscious in his cell before his death and prompted him to be placed on suicide watch.
A lawyer told NBC News on Friday that Nicholas Tartaglione, a former upstate New York officer accused of killing four people, was cleared.
On July 23, three weeks before Epstein was found dead on Aug. 10, the 66-year-old apparently attempted to kill himself in his cell at the Manhattan’s Metropolitan Correctional Center.
According to the NBC report, the July incident was being investigated as an assault, suicide attempt, or an attempt at a ruse.
Jail officials told Tartaglione’s attorney, Bruce Barket, that he was cleared one day before Epstein died.
“We’ve always maintained Nick did nothing wrong and that’s clearly been borne out here by the jail itself,” Barket said.
Later, Epstein was mysteriously taken off suicide watch.
The FBI and the Justice Department’s Office of Inspector General are now investigating the matter.
The Post reported that he had a broken hyoid bone near his Adam’s apple.
Jonathan L. Arden, president of the National Association of Medical Examiners, told the newspaper that the hyoid bone can be broken in a number of ways. However, he said that it is more associated with homicidal strangulation than suicidal hanging.
A broken hyoid, he added, requires pathologists to carry out a more thorough investigation.
“If, hypothetically, the hyoid bone is broken, that would generally raise questions about strangulation, but it is not definitive and does not exclude suicidal hanging,” Arden said.
The hedge fund manager was jailed since July and was waiting trial on federal sex trafficking charges. Epstein had pleaded not guilty to the charges but was denied bail.
Attorney General William Barr has said the criminal investigation into any possible co-conspirators would continue.
Barr, whose agency oversees the Bureau of Prisons, has also demanded an investigation into Epstein’s death and ordered the removal of the prison’s warden.
Multiple news reports have said guards did not follow procedures to check on Epstein frequently and that he was left alone in his cell for as long as three hours.
Separately, a team at the jail on Wednesday began an “after-action” review, which is normally triggered by significant events such as a prominent inmate’s death, a person familiar with the matter said. That review is being headed by a prison bureau director from another region.
Epoch Times reporter Jack Phillips, The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.