Wealthy financier Jeffrey Epstein’s death by apparent suicide has sparked outrage after new details have emerged suggesting overworked prison guards failed to follow prison procedures, no video was captured of Epstein’s final movements and the money manager’s cellmate was inexplicably moved just before his death.
“Mr. Epstein’s death raises serious questions that must be answered,” U.S. Attorney General William Barr said in a statement, according to The New York Post. “In addition to the FBI’s investigation, I have consulted with the inspector general, who is opening an investigation into the circumstances of Mr. Epstein’s death.”
Barr added that he was “appalled” to learn of the 66-year-old’s death; in a lengthy letter sent to Barr, Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska said that “heads would roll” for what he believed was a lapse in supervision.
"The Department of Justice failed, and today Jeffrey Epstein's co-conspirators think they might have just gotten one last sweetheart deal. Every single person in the Justice Department — from your Main Justice headquarters staff all the way to the night-shift jailer — knew that this man was a suicide risk, and that his dark secrets couldn't be allowed to die with him," he wrote, according to CBS News.
Epstein, who was facing federal charges for the sex trafficking of teen girls, was found unresponsive in his cell early Saturday—just weeks after another similar incident on July 23 when the wealth fund manager was found sprawled on the floor of his cell with visible injuries to his neck. Authorities are still investigating whether that incident was a suicide attempt or assault by another inmate.
"Given Epstein's previous attempted suicide, he should have been locked in a padded room under unbroken, 24/7, constant surveillance,” Sasse said.
After Epstein had been discovered on his jail cell floor July 23, prison officials had placed him on suicide watch. However, just six days later, they determined he was no longer a threat to himself and placed him in a cell with another inmate.
That inmate was inexplicably removed from Epstein’s cell, leaving the multi-millionaire alone in his cell, just before his death, one jail official told The New York Times.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said questions remain about how Epstein, who had a “huge amount of information, potentially, about some of the richest and most powerful people in the country,” had ended up dead.
“And then, you know, suddenly they’re not putting him on suicide watch? I’m not a conspiracy theorist, but I don’t understand how those facts fit together,” he told The New York Post.
On the night before Epstein was discovered dead, new details suggest that prison guards may not have been making the regularly scheduled checks.
One source told The Associated Press the guards on Epstein’s unit had been working extreme overtime shifts to make up for staffing shortages. One of the guards had been working a fifth straight day of overtime, while another was working a mandatory overtime shift.
Under the policies at Metropolitan Correctional Center, Epstein was to be checked in his cell in the protective housing unit every 30 minutes; however, Friday night that procedure was not followed, one official later told The New York Times.
At 6:30 a.m. Saturday, prison guards found Epstein hanging from his cell.
Dr. Barbara Sampson, the city’s chief medical examiner, announced Sunday that an autopsy had been completed, but declined to release the official cause of death citing her desire to collect more information from law enforcement.
One city official told The Times the medical examiner was confident the cause of death was suicide by hanging.
Epstein’s death came just a day after a Manhattan federal judge unsealed approximately 2,000 pages in documents detailing the shocking and explosive claims made by former employees, friends and alleged victims of Epstein during civil court depositions. The documents paint the portrait of an insatiable man who sexually abused dozens of minors, some as young as 14 years old.
According to the documents, Epstein demanded at least three orgasms a day. The allegations also extend to other powerful politicians including former Sen. George Mitchell of Maine, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson and Britain’s Prince Andrew. One woman, Virginia Giuffre, claimed that Epstein forced her to have sex with all three men, the Post reports.
Mitchell denied the allegation, saying in statement that "I have never met, spoken with or had any contact with Ms. Giuffre."
Richardson likewise called Giuffre's claim "categorically false" and said he'd never met her.
On behalf of Prince Andrew, a Buckingham Palace spokesperson said "any suggestion of impropriety with underage minors is categorically untrue."
Although cameras were located in hallways and common areas throughout the unit, no camera was in the cell where Epstein was being held according to Eric Young, president of the national council of union locals that represents the guards at the jail.
Young said there should be video surveillance, however, that will detail when officials checked on Epstein before he was discovered dead.
As the investigation continues, Epstein’s attorneys released a joint statement saying they were saddened by the news of his death.
“We are enormously sorry to learn of today’s news,” they said. “No one should die in jail.”
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