Jeffrey Epstein reportedly died by suicide in a Manhattan jail on Saturday morning, a day after a federal appeals court released a cache of documents that shed additional light on the financier’s decades of sex crimes. ABC News reports that the 66-year-old Epstein hanged himself in his cell and “was transported in cardiac arrest” to a nearby hospital at 6:39 a.m.
The Washington Post’s story says that the “Bureau of Prisons called the death an ‘apparent suicide,’ though one official cautioned that the investigation was in its early stages and no final determination had been made.” One of the reporters on that story, Carol Leonnig, tweeted, “People close to Epstein fear he was murdered…as Epstein told authorities someone tried to kill him in a previous incident weeks earlier. He was described as being in good spirits in recent days…”
CNN reported less than three weeks ago that Epstein had reportedly been placed on suicide watch after he was found unresponsive in his cell with marks on his neck. According to NBC News, though, Epstein was in his cell but not on suicide watch at the time of his death. That earlier CNN report indicated that jail officials weren’t sure if the wounds Epstein suffered were self-inflicted. Epstein had claimed that he’d been injured after getting “beaten up and called a child predator.”
Epstein was being held in jail after federal prosecutors charged him last month with sex trafficking and sex trafficking conspiracy. He stood accused of bringing minor girls, some as young as 14 years old, to his homes on the Upper East Side and in Palm Beach, Florida, to engage in sex acts between 2002 and 2005. Epstein, who faced up to 45 years in prison, pleaded not guilty to those charges. His lawyers asked that he be allowed to remain confined at home. A judge refused that request.
Epstein had been charged with similar crimes in Florida in 2007 but served just 13 months after signing a nonprosecution agreement. Details of that deal, which was brokered by Alexander Acosta in his capacity as a U.S. attorney in Miami, resurfaced last year due to reporting by the Miami Herald. As a consequence of renewed scrutiny into his conduct, Acosta resigned his position as President Donald Trump’s secretary of labor.
The criminal proceedings against Epstein will end with his death. On Saturday, Democratic Rep. Lois Frankel tweeted that Epstein’s suicide “does not end the need for justice for his victims or the right of the public to know why a prolific child molester got a slap on the wrist instead of a long prison sentence.” Frankel then called for the House Committee on Oversight and Reform to begin an investigation. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a member of that committee, tweeted, “We need answers. Lots of them.”
The new documents released on Friday, which included depositions and flight logs, were part of a defamation suit brought by one of Epstein’s accusers, Virginia Giuffre, against Epstein’s associate Ghislaine Maxwell. (That case settled in 2017.) Those unsealed records, according to the Herald, “offer brutal details about Epstein’s trafficking of teenage girls in Palm Beach, New York and overseas—as well as Maxwell’s obsessive and often abusive quest to provide him with new girls over a span of years in the early to mid 2000s.” They also include accusations by Giuffre that Maxwell ordered her to have sex with, among other rich and powerful men, former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, former Sen. George Mitchell, and Britain’s Prince Andrew. All three of those men have denied those accusations, and none have been charged with a crime.
In its piece on Epstein’s death, the Wall Street Journal writes that he “built a fortune of more than a half-billion dollars through close relationships with a small number of rich and powerful people, such as retail magnate Leslie Wexner, Johnson & Johnson heiress Elizabeth Johnson and hedge-fund billionaire Glenn Dubin.” Earlier this week, Wexner accused Epstein of “misappropriate[ing] vast sums of money” from him and his family.
This is a breaking news story. This post may be updated with more information.