Written by Ben Sixsmith
On the one hand, the death of Jeffrey Epstein was entirely predictable, and on the other, if a team of Hollywood screenwriters had attempted to script the event they could hardly have envisaged such drama and intrigue. On July 6th, Jeffrey Epstein had been arrested on sex trafficking charges and jailed in the Metropolitan Correctional Center in New York City. This facility has housed figures ranging from Ponzi scheme fraudster Bernie Madoff, Mexican druglord El Chapo, and Gambino crime family bosses like John Gotti.
The jail’s scandalous history only heightens the mystery surrounding Epstein’s death. Several prisoners told Gothamist that they had been physically assaulted by staff. One former correctional officer at the jail admitted to beating an inmate, leaving fractures in his eye socket and cheekbone. In 2016, another former officer raped an inmate in a corridor that had no video surveillance and, just a year ago, one officer was found to have been taking “bribes from a Federal Inmate in his custody in exchange for smuggling contraband into the jail”
During his time in this jail, El Chapo’s attorneys reported that the druglord was driven to “auditory hallucinations,” “paranoia,” and they began to notice his mental faculties decline: he began “repeating himself often and sometimes forgetting what” was being discussed.
The jail is also infamous for its unsanitary conditions with sewage spilling onto the floors and, according to inmates, enormousratscrawled on and bit inmates while they slept.One detainee in a Gothamist report says, “toilet waste and feces were all over the floors of all the cells, common area, and other departments on the floor” and inmates “were the ones who had to clean it all up without proper equipment.” This resulted in inmates getting feces all over “their hands, legs, faces.”
It was reported that Epstein had not been showering and this was likely because”the hot and cold water in the cell came out of different taps,” so inmates couldn’t shower without “ getting frozen or scorched.” To relieve himself from these hellish conditions, Epstein hired lawyers throughout the day to take advantage of the private meeting rooms. Sometimes for up to 12 hours in a day. People who saw the meetings tell the New York Times that Epstein sat in the rooms for so long “that he often appeared bored, sitting in silence with his lawyers.” During the meeting times, he would empty out the vending machines of all the snacks & drinks.
A few weeks into his imprisonment, Epstein was found unconscious in his cell with injuries around his neck. According to the New York Times, the prison was invegistating the “incident as a possible suicide attempt…[but they] had not ruled out the possibility that Epstein had been assaulted by other inmates or had staged the incident.” If he had been assaulted by other inmates, Epstein’s ploy to avoid attention and buy protection by paying off at least three inmates had failed.
In an interview with The Sun, Spencer Kuvin, the attorney who represented three Epstein accusers a decade ago, questions whether it was a suicide attempt. He asks, “ how do you choke yourself? It doesn’t make any sense.” He continues saying “ there may be some powerful people who just don’t want him to talk.”
Following this incident, Jeffrey Epstein was put on suicide watch, but then abruptly removed at the end of July. His last days, reports have claimed, were spent speaking to his lawyers and revising his will. A lawyer who spoke with Epstein after the incident claims that he ‘seemed excited about their working together on the case,’ saying “One thing I can say for sure is when I left him he was very, very upbeat.”
On August 10th, Epstein was found dead after allegedly hanging himself with a sheet. According to CBS News, shouting and shrieking was heard from his cell early in the morning.
The level of incompetence that would have had to have existed for Epstein to have committed suicide as we are told strains credulity. Why was America’s most famous criminal suspect removed from suicide watch a week after an alleged suicide attempt? Veterans of the Bureau of Prisons claim this was routine. However, a forensic psychiatrist who frequently evaluates inmates at this jail tells the New York Times that “any case where someone had a proven or suspected serious suicide attempt, that would be unusual to within two to three weeks take them off suicide watch. An official in the prison employee’s union goes further saying that the warden’s decision to take Epstein off suicide watch was “egregious.”
Thetwo guards who were meant to check on Epstein every thirty minutes fell asleep for around three hours and then proceeded to falsify records. The New York Times suggests that they were overworked because of staffing shortages. During the time of his alleged suicide, there were more than 30 staff vacancies. The two separate cameras within sight of Epstein’s cell apparently malfunctioned at the same time.
Reports that the autopsy had revealed a fractured hyoid bone in Epstein’s neck was claimed to be a proof of foul play, but medical experts claim that hyoid ruptures could occur in suicides. That Epstein had changed his will two days before his death seems suspicious, but it is also a common stage in a person’s preparations for their self-inflicted deaths.
But so bizarre are the circumstances surrounding Epstein’s death that even professional “skeptics” like Michael Shermer are questioning the claim that he committed suicide. Christopher Hitchens once called the term “conspiracy theory”, “this stolid, complacent return serve: so apparently grounded in reason and skepticism but so often naive and one-dimensional.” Rarely is this more the case than when a multi-millionaire sexual predator whose contact list reads like a Who’s Who for politics, media and the academia “commits suicide” as his guards sleep and two cameras malfunction.
This video can barely scratch the surface of the mysteries surrounding Epstein’s life and death. Where, for example, has Ghislaine Maxwell gone? The daughter of the publishing tycoon and large-scale fraudster Robert Maxwell — who had links to the KGB, MI6 and Mossad, and who himself died in mysterious circumstances when he drowned while travelling on his yacht Lady Ghislaine, named after his daughter. Maxwell is alleged to have been a “fixer” for Epstein, procuring girls for sex and engaging in the acts. She denies this, of course, but while she used to be photographed in public at events like Chelsea Clinton’s wedding, she has since disappeared. One photograph emerged of Maxwell at, of all places, a burger bar, but discrepancies have suggested that the photograph was staged. Where is she? No one knows. Or, at least, no one will say.
The New York City Chief Medical Examiner maintains that the mysterious billionaire committed suicide. Epstein’s lawyers suspect their client was murdered, as does pathologist Dr. Baden who was hired by his brother. Dr. Baden, who’s estimated to have conducted over 20,000 autopsies, claims, “there were findings that are unusual for suicide by hanging and more consistent with ligature homicidal strangulation.” In reaction to the type of neck fractures found in Epstein, he says he’s not “seen in 50 years where that occurred in a suicidal hanging case.”
Only a third of Americans think that Epstein comitted suicide. Though for most of the media, it seems, Epstein was not interesting enough. Project Veritas published a clip which reveal ABC reporter Amy Robach claiming that her network decided not to show an interview she had conducted with one of Epstein’s accusers in 2015. “Who’s Jeffrey Epstein,” she claims that she was told, “No one knows who that is. This is a stupid story.” Of course, lots of people knew who Epstein was. Lots of very rich, very powerful people.
It is important not to lose sight of the context of Epstein’s death. Alive or dead, murdered or a suicide, his case is full of unanswered questioned as our previous episodes have explored. History must be pre-empted by demanding exploration of his life and death, from his early days as an obscure financial consultant to this summer’s mysterious events. The story of Jeffrey Epstein has yet to be completed.