No matter what the circumstances, anything that stopped Jeffrey Epstein’s federal sex trafficking case from going to trial was bound to prompt speculation of foul play. But since his death at a Manhattan federal jail last weekend, every new reveal about the circumstances of his reported suicide is more suspicious than the one before: One need not be a tin-foil hat conspiracy theorist to have serious questions.
The mysterious financier had long enjoyed access and freedoms typically reserved for the top echelons of the powerful elite — although it was never clear exactly how Epstein fit into this rarefied world. How much money did he have, and more importantly, how did he earn it? He operated a hedge fund, but had only one known client. In financial circles, he was something of a ghost.
“It’s hard to make a billion dollars quietly,” one hedge fund manager told New York Magazine. The NYMag article floats a theory, supported by multiple sources in the financial world, that Epstein was running some type of blackmail ring.
In 2008, he pleaded guilty to soliciting a minor for prostitution — dodging serious jail time as well as prosecution for more serious charges. Epstein, 66, made no secret about his tastes for *much* younger women, even suggesting in an interview with a New York Times reporter that sex between adults and teenage girls should be decriminalized.
READ MORE: Jeffrey Epstein hanged himself from bunk bed in jail cell, source says
Epstein has been accused of sexual abuse, child rape, and enlisting teen girls and young women already in his dark web to recruit more girls. When he died, he was facing federal charges of sex trafficking of minors and conspiracy to engage in sex trafficking of minors.
It isn’t difficult to connect the hypothetical dots between Epstein’s obscured financial profile, his powerful friends — from Donald Trump to Bill Clinton to Prince Andrew; the sex trafficking investigation, and possible blackmail. What did Epstein have to offer the rich and powerful, and what secrets might he have been in a position to expose?
On July 23, Epstein was found injured in a cell after a possible suicide attempt. Only six days later, he was taken off suicide watch, reportedly at the behest of his own lawyers — a decision described as “shocking” by prison experts who spoke to the media.
After he was taken off suicide watch, Epstein was placed in a special housing unit, where protocol reportedly required that he have a cell mate and regular checks by correctional officers, every 30 minutes. But, as the New York Times reported, Epstein’s cell mate had recently been transferred, and had not been replaced at the time of his death, leaving Epstein alone in his cell. And while there are cameras in the MCC’s special housing unit, none of them were pointed into Epstein’s cell, meaning there is likely no visual documentation of what went on there in the early hours of Saturday morning, when Epstein is said to have hung himself from a bed sheet tied to a top bunk.
READ MORE: Jeffrey Epstein jail guards falsified logs, lied about checking on inmate in the hours before suspected suicide: Report
Further, the correctional officers assigned to monitor Epstein every 30 minutes reportedly failed to check on him for three hours preceding his death. According to the New York Times, the two guards had fallen asleep, and may have falsified logs, incorrectly claiming that they did check on him at the required intervals. Both of those guards have been placed on administrative leave, and the warden in charge of the unit has been transferred to another facility.
According to a New York Post report published Thursday, Epstein was optimistic about his chances of avoiding a long prison term in the sex trafficking case — reportedly believing that he might get another sweetheart plea deal — and was in “good spirits” during his final meeting with lawyers on Friday. The source who spoke to the New York Post did not say why Epstein was confident about a possible plea deal, or what he might have had to offer federal prosecutors.
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Perhaps the most explosive reveal about Epstein’s death came early Thursday morning, when the Washington Post reported that Epstein’s autopsy found that he had multiple fractures in his neck bones, a condition that experts said was more common in cases of homicidal strangling than suicide by hanging. As with much of the information published in recent days about Epstein’s death, the sources who provided the details about Epstein’s autopsy spoke on the condition of anonymity. The New York City chief medical examiner did not specifically address the fractures in a statement to the Washington Post.
“In all forensic investigations, all information must be synthesized to determine the cause and manner of death,” Dr. Barbara Sampson said. “Everything must be consistent; no single finding can be evaluated in a vacuum.”
According to the New York Post, a decision about Epstein’s cause of death was expected early this week, pending further information from law enforcement. But as of Friday morning, there were no reports that the medical examiner had come to a conclusion.
NBC News reports that an individual identified only as an “associate” of Epstein’s claimed his body this week. It is unclear if or when a funeral is planned.
Alan Dershowitz, Epstein’s former lawyer who has been named in a lawsuit filed by one of Epstein’s victims, who claimed she had sex with Dershowitz under pressure from Epstein a half-dozen times, indicated in an interview with Yahoo! that he believed Epstein took his own life.
As Vox notes, the accuser, Virginia Roberts Giuffre reportedly said in the lawsuit that Epstein forced her to have sex with some of his associates, and then asked her to provide him with incriminating information, possibly for purposes of blackmail.
“I’m not surprised that Epstein tried” to kill himself, Dershowitz told Yahoo!. “I am only surprised that he succeeded.”
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