Jeffrey Epstein is dead, but the investigation lives on

Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Geoffrey Berman speaks during a news conference about the arrest of Jeffrey Epstein in New York.
Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Geoffrey Berman speaks during a news conference about the arrest of Jeffrey Epstein in New York.
JASON SZENES/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock
Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Geoffrey Berman speaks during a news conference about the arrest of Jeffrey Epstein in New York.

Jeffrey Epstein is dead, but the investigation lives on

Officials warn co-conspirators: This won’t make things any easier for you.
August 12, 2019

Saturday morning, prison guards found disgraced billionaire financier Jeffrey Epstein dead by an apparent suicide. The shocking death of the man who used his wealth to abuse young girls didn’t prompt an outpouring of grief – but it did unleash a torrent of conspiracy theories about all the powerful people who might have wanted him out of the way.

Wild internet accusations aside, here’s what we know. Epstein was being kept in New York City’s Metropolitan Correctional Center, awaiting trial on sex-trafficking charges. His suicide came as a surprise for several reasons, one being that the high-security correctional facility he was being kept in – considered stricter than Guantánamo Bay –  is known for holding high-profile inmates, like Bernie Madoff, John Gotti and, most recently, “El Chapo” himself, Joaquín Guzmán Loera, while they awaited their trials and sentencing. 

The city’s chief medical examiner, Barbara Sampson, announced on Sunday night that an autopsy has been conducted, but that “further information” is needed to determine the cause of death, despite a New York coroner ruling the death a suicide. A full determination of the medical examiner’s investigation is expected early next week, according to the New York Post.

Since Epstein’s death, the federal Bureau of Prisons has faced serious criticism for not keeping the billionaire under closer watch, considering he had already tried to commit suicide on July 23, just 20 days before his death. 

According to The New York Times, Epstein was only kept on suicide watch for six days before being taken off and put in a protective housing unit with another cellmate, where guards were supposed to check on the inmates every 30 minutes. However, Epstein’s cellmate had been inexplicably removed from their shared cell, leaving Epstein completely alone. It was also reported that the two guards responsible for checking in on Epstein during his time of his death had been severely overworked, one guard having been on his fifth consecutive day of overtime.

On Sunday, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio called for a full federal investigation into Epstein’s death. "I'm not a conspiracy theorist, but something's way too convenient here, and we need to get down to the bottom of what happened," de Blasio told reporters while at the Iowa State Fair.

 

U.S. Attorney General William Barr announced that the FBI will be investigating the death in a statement released Sunday.

"I was appalled to learn that Jeffrey Epstein was found dead early this morning from an apparent suicide while in federal custody," Barr said. "Mr. Epstein's death raises serious questions that must be answered. In addition to the FBI's investigation, I have consulted with the Inspector General who is opening an investigation."

And during a press conference on Monday, Barr said that he learned of “serious irregularities” at the facility Epstein was held at, warning that the death won’t be making things any easier for Epstein’s enablers. 

“Let me assure you this case will continue on against anyone who was complicit with Epstein,” Barr added. “Any co-conspirators should not rest easy. The victims deserve justice and they will get it.”

With Epstein out of the picture, federal prosecutors and the FBI will now be turning their attention to people who may have assisted the billionaire with his sex-trafficking ring throughout the years – though co-conspirators have yet to be named or charged. 

And despite his death, Epstein’s accusers will still be able to file civil claims against his estate, which is said to be worth over $500 million, according to the Times. “The victims are entitled for compensation for the anguish he put them through over so many years,” Lisa Bloom, an attorney working on behalf of two of Epstein’s accusers, told the Times.

Amanda Luz Henning Santiago
Amanda Luz Henning Santiago
is City & State's web reporter and social media editor.
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