FBI agents descended upon Jeffrey Epstein’s private, Caribbean estate, dubbed locally “pedophile Island,” just two days after the accused child sex trafficker appears to have hanged himself in a Manhattan jail cell.
Anonymous sources confirmed to both outlets that federal agents were searching Epstein’s home in the U.S. Virgin Islands, although it’s unclear what evidence they might have obtained in the course of their search.
Epstein, who allegedly sexually abused dozens of teen girls between his Manhattan and Palm Beach estates from 2002 to 2005, appears to have hanged himself with a bed sheet at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan over the weekend.
He was discovered in his cell Saturday morning, where he was held without bond after he was arrested on charges of conspiracy and human trafficking in July.
The 66-year-old faced up to 45 years in prison, and had pleaded not guilty.
Despite his death, though, the investigation into Epstein’s alleged child sex trafficking network will continue. Investigators plan to widen their probe to those who helped facilitate Epstein’s alleged trafficking, which could mean scrutinizing some of his many island guests.
For example, sworn testimony unsealed Friday revealed allegations that Epstein once held a private dinner for former President Bill Clinton on the Little St. James. (Clinton has denied the visit, according to the Miami Herald, and the court documents didn’t contain any accusations that Clinton engaged in abuse.)
While the bulk of the accusations against Epstein center around his mainland mansions, which he reached by a private jet nicknamed the “Lolita Express,” his palatial island has long been a source of inquiry and curiosity.
Law enforcement actually wanted to search the island years ago, according to NBC News. It’s unclear whether that search ever happened. Police only raided his Manhattan townhouse — where he allegedly kept nude photos of underage girls, and abused teens under the guise of paying them for “massages” — after his arrest in early July on allegations from the early aughts.
Yet, anonymous sources told Vanity Fair that Epstein continued to bring young girls to his private island as recently as this year. A New York Times reporter who interviewed Epstein in Manhattan last year said a young woman answered the door of his luxe townhouse.
Epstein was allowed to plea to state prostitution charges in 2008 rather than the much more severe child sex trafficking allegations that had been lodged against him, allowing him to evade strict federal penalties. While that deal was being negotiated with federal prosecutors, Epstein looked to triple the size of his island residence, according to NBC News.
As a condition of the plea deal, Epstein had to register himself as a sex offender. But sources told Vanity Fair that Epstein made little effort to conceal his island escapades with girls who appeared to be teens.
“On multiple occasions I saw Epstein exit his helicopter, stand on the tarmac in full view of my tower, and board his private jet with children — female children,” a former air traffic controller at the nearby St. Thomas airstrip told the magazine. “One incident in particular really stands out in my mind, because the girls were just so young. They couldn’t have been over 16.”
Cover: This Tuesday, July 9, 2019 photo shows a view of Little St. James Island, in the U. S. Virgin Islands, a property owned by Jeffrey Epstein. The 66-year-old billionaire bought the property about a decade ago and began to transform it, clearing the native vegetation, ringing the property with towering palm trees and planting two massive U.S. flags on either end. (AP Photo/Gianfranco Gaglione)