Epstein’s Manhattan townhouse has reportedly become something of a tourist attraction in the wake of the sex offender’s death. (Mary Altaffer/AP/Shutterstock)
More details regarding Jeffrey Epstein’s autopsy have been leaked to the Washington Post, and if true, the new information either reinforces the assessment that the disgraced financier died from suicide, or fuels the conspiracy theories bubbling around his death.
The Washington Post reports that NYC Medical Examiner Barbara Sampson completed the autopsy on Sunday, indicating she believed the cause of death to have been suicide (Epstein reportedly hanged himself with a bedsheet inside his cell at Manhattan’s Metropolitan Correctional Center on Saturday morning) but listing it as pending nonetheless. Now, anonymous sources with knowledge of the findings tell the Washington Post the convicted sex offender had bones broken in his neck—specifically, the hyoid bone near his Adam’s apple.
That may track with the prevailing theory about Epstein’s death, because according to the Post, the hyoid bone does sometimes break when people hang themselves. That’s reportedly more apt to happen in older adults, and Epstein was 66 when he died. But typically, the Post points out, broken hyoids most often occur in cases of “homicide by strangulation.”
Asked to confirm the Post’s report, and what that might say about the most likely cause of death, a spokesperson for the Medical Examiner told Gothamist: “The ME’s determination is pending for more information at this time and we have no further comments.”
A series of procedural lapses and oversights appear to have contributed to Epstein’s death. The two MCC guards (one of whom seems not to have had experience actually guarding detainees, and both of whom have since been placed on leave) who should have been watching him reportedly slept through a portion of their shift, leaving him alone and unsupervised for three hours rather than 30 minutes. At the end of July, the accused sex trafficker had been removed from suicide watch, apparently at his lawyers’ request, shortly after staff found him injured in his cell. According to the NY Post, Epstein subsequently claimed that his then-cellmate, ex-cop Nicholas Tartaglione, “roughed him up” and that’s how he got the injuries. Tartaglione’s attorney denied that, but granted Epstein “must have said something to get off suicide watch.”
In any case, staff supposedly transferred Epstein’s cellmate just over a week later, rather than holding him together with another prisoner, as would have been customary for an inmate suspected of having tried to kill himself. Left to his own devices as of Friday night, Epstein appears to have rigged a noose from his bedclothes and fastened it to a post on his bunk bed.
Still, a lot had to go wrong in order to give Epstein that window of opportunity, and some have speculated that the official story (while still developing) sounds a little too convenient to be true. In the immediate aftermath of Epstein’s death, conspiracy theories circulated: Some, like Epstein’s former bodyguard-slash-trainer-slash-driver, believe the moneyman had outside help. Others have suggested that the death wasn’t the result of a suicide but of a murder; a strategic hit commissioned by one of Epstein’s powerful friends looking to silence the money manager before his sex trafficking trial aired damning dirty laundry.
One of the names floated by that raft of conspiracy theorists was Bill Clinton, our 42nd president and a former associate of Epstein’s. Amid allegations that Clinton visited Epstein’s “pedophile island,” and rode on his private plane (the “Lolita Express”), Clinton’s camp has vehemently denied that the politician entertained anything like a friendship with Epstein, insisting that their relationship never breached the bounds of regular business. Still, and not necessarily relatedly, sources familiar with Epstein’s Manhattan townhouse—and all the nightmare decor concealed therein—say he’d hung an odd portrait of Clinton on his walls, one in which the former president wears a blue dress and red heels. Framed prints currently start at $120, do with that what you will.
Setting aside the hazy circumstances surrounding Epstein’s death, there’s also the mystery of a certain socialite’s whereabouts to ponder. The search for Ghislaine Maxwell, Epstein’s alleged madam and right-hand woman, continues to intensify. On Wednesday, a woman who says she was 15 when Epstein raped her filed a civil suit naming Maxwell as one of the defendants, arguing that the missing Brit “participated with and assisted Epstein in maintaining and protecting Defendant Epstein’s sex trafficking ring,” thereby facilitating the abuse of countless underage girls.
One tabloid report placed Maxwell at millionaire maritime enthusiast Scott Borgerson’s mansion in Manchester-by-the-Sea, Massachusetts. Borgerson denied that Maxwell was hiding out at his home, and also that the pair were dating (as said tabloid alleged), but there are a number of other places she could be: A number of Maxwell’s friends told the Daily Beast that she’d holed up in Epstein’s Paris home. She did not appear to be lying low at her townhouse in London, nor at any of her relatives’ homes in France.
One place she almost certainly isn’t hiding is on Epstein’s Caribbean Island: Little St. James, a.k.a. “pedophile island,” which the feds raided earlier this week. We still don’t know what evidence investigators may have uncovered at this particular estate, one rumored to have served as a hub for Epstein’s reported child sex trafficking operation. According to photos published by the Associated Press, though, flags on the island appear to be flying at half staff in the wake of the financier’s death. It’s unclear who made that gesture, but as one local boat captain noted to NBC, it seems a strange tribute: “They’re doing this as a remembrance, but the irony is he’ll only be remembered for the deviance .”