Accused sex child trafficker Jeffrey Epstein was discovered Saturday inside his New York City prison cell with a bedsheet wrapped around his neck that was tied to his bunk bed.
“The convicted pedophile, who was 6 feet tall, apparently killed himself by kneeling toward the floor and strangling himself with the makeshift noose, a law enforcement source said Monday,” according to the New York Post.
Law enforcement received a call at 6:39 a.m. local time that Epstein was in cardiac arrest and was later pronounced dead at NewYork-Presbyterian Lower Manhattan Hospital.
Epstein was facing charges of sex trafficking that stemmed from activities over a period of three years in the early 2000s. He served a 13-month prison sentence in Florida in 2008 after he was charged with similar offenses, and was forced to register as a sex offender. His attorneys unsuccessfully lobbied for bail and house arrest on the new charges, but a federal New York judge declared him a flight risk and a danger to the community.
New York City’s chief medical examiner Dr. Barbara Sampson said the autopsy on Epstein was performed on Sunday and stated she would release the determination upon “further information.”
Federal authorities, including Attorney General William Barr, have expressed dismay at Epstein’s death in federal custody and pledged to investigate.
“I was appalled and indeed the whole department was, and frankly angry, to learn of the Metropolitan Correctional Center’s failure to adequately secure this prison,” Barr said in New Orleans Monday.
“We are now learning of serious irregularities at this facility that are deeply concerning and demand a thorough investigation. The FBI and office of the inspector general are doing just that. We will get to the bottom of what happened and there will be accountability,” he added.
The nation’s chief legal officer also issued a warning to those who may have conspired with Epstein, stating that they “should not rest easy.”
“Let me assure you this case will continue on against anyone who was complicit with Epstein. Any co-conspirators should not rest easy. The victims deserve justice and they will get it,” he said.
The Associated Press reported Sunday that the Metropolitan Correctional Center’s Special Housing Unit was experiencing staff shortages the time of Epstein’s death with only one guard working a fifth-straight day of overtime and another guard working mandatory overtime. Epstein was put on the prison’s suicide watch after he was discovered on July 23rd with neck bruises, according to several reports. He was said to be taken off the watch list days later.
Cameron Lindsay, a former warden who worked at three federal prisons, said he is stunned by Epstein’s removal from the list. “For them to pull him off suicide watch is shocking. For someone this high-profile, with these allegations and this many victims, who has had a suicide attempt in the last few weeks, you can take absolutely no chances. You leave him on suicide watch until he’s out of there,” Lindsay told NBC. “It’s too early to say what I think should happen, but if this did occur as we believe that it did, some staff are going to have some hard questions to answer.”
Geoffrey Berman, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, has pledged to continue the case against Epstein despite his death.
“To those brave young women who have already come forward and to the many others who have yet to do so, let me reiterate that we remain committed to standing for you, and our investigation of the conduct charged in the Indictment — which included a conspiracy count — remains ongoing,” Berman said.
The UPI contributed to this report.